‘It’s gorgeous’: Controversial class photo retaken to include child in wheelchair

Hilary Hagerman
Shine On

Earlier this week, an insensitive class photo from a B.C. public school made headlines.

In the photo, seven-year-old Miles Ambridge, who uses a wheelchair, was visibly segregated from his Grade 2 classmates.

The photo made waves after Miles’s parents, Anne Belanger and Don Ambridge, lashed out at Herbert Spencer Elementary as well as Lifetouch, the photo company who took the class picture.

It’s been a tough week for Miles’s parents, who said that seeing the photo “broke [their] heart.”

Also see: Second grader in wheelchair set apart from classmates in school photo

But on Monday, the family finally had something to smile about when they saw the retaken class photo, in which Miles sits front and centre.

“It’s gorgeous,” his mom tells The Province. “It’s a really nice shot.”

In the new, improved photo, Miles is seen sitting in the front row, in between his caregiver and another student.  He’s flashing a million-dollar smile  and fits right in with his classmates.

In fact, he fits in so well, that his mom hardly recognized him at first glance.

““You can’t pick him out this time,” she tells The Province. “For him, to fit in, this is what it should be.”

Also see: Canadian dad receives 'best Father's Day' gift ever

According to The Province, some critics say that Miles, who has spinal muscular atrophy, appearing in the photo out of his wheelchair sends the wrong message. But his dad, who came up with the idea, doesn’t agree. He says that Miles isn't limited to his wheelchair -- and he often spends time at home on the couch or his bed.

“All you’ve got to do is look at the kid sitting on the bench with a grin on his face and that’s why we do it,” said Ambridge. “He’s a happy little guy.”

Mile was never shown the original photo, but his parents have kept a copy in case he ever wants to see it.

But on Tuesday night, Belanger showed her son the new class photo.

His response? “Oh, mommy, that’s so nice!”

We think so, too.