New Brunswick

Mother shocked when Boys and Girls Club rejects autistic son for summer camp

A nine-year-old Fredericton boy with autism has been denied a spot in a Boys and Girls Club summer camp, even if accompanied by someone to watch him at all times, his mother says.

Although he'd have someone constantly watching over him, Loman Savoie is barred from day camp

Beth Hartnett is looking for another summer camp or daycare for her son, Loman, after the Boys and Girls Club of Fredericton refused to let him join its day program. (Beth Hartnett)
A nine-year-old Fredericton boy with autism has been denied a spot in a Boys and Girls Club summer camp, even if accompanied by someone to watch him at all times, his mother says.

Beth Hartnett said the organization led her to believe the special needs of her son, Loman Savoie, would not keep him out of the day camp, so she was surprised by the rejection.

"I was really blown away," Hartnett said. "I was really upset. I had no indication that we would be turned away."

Hartnett, who had already secured funding for one-on-care for Loman while at camp, said she wants the club to change its policies.

CBC News has called the Boys and Girls Club of Fredericton but has not received a response.

Loman is non-verbal and needs someone with him at all times. He has also wandered off in the past, said Hartnett, but a one-on-one worker would be able to stop that. 

As a parent, it's a big blow.- Beth Hartnett
Harnett said she told the Fredericton club that Loman had special needs, and she was still encouraged to apply.

The club's position changed after she sent the application form.

"They said because he needs one-on-one care constantly, the worker wouldn't be able to take breaks," Hartnett said.

"They also have policies where [workers] can't be in the bathroom at the same time as the children, and he does need a little bit of toileting help, and he does need help with changing for the pool."

Hartnett said she would like the club to change its policies so that children like Loman, who require assistance in certain situations, aren't excluded. 

"For all the kids out there who are going to need help in the change room for physical disabilities, cognitive, whatever, they're automatically eliminated."

Hartnett is looking for another summer camp or daycare that Loman can attend this summer.

"As a parent, it's a big blow," she said. "You already know your kid is kind of not going to be accepted in a lot of ways, and for a kids camp — how could you fail at going to camp as a special needs kid?" 

"You're just going to be there, enjoying the water and sun and your peers as much as you can and in whatever capacity you can."

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