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Boy With Cerebral Palsy Denied Entry to IKEA Play Area

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Update Jan. 13, 2016: The Mighty received the following statement from IKEA.

“Children are the most important people in the world, and diversity is a natural and important part of IKEA. Because of this belief, we are glad to offer our customers’ children a safe and fun place to play while they are in our stores. We regret that IKEA did not welcome these children and their families, and we are sincerely sorry. The safety of all children is our priority and we strive to make our policies inclusive. We will reach out to the community to help us re-examine our policies to ensure our Smaland play area is a welcoming and safe place for all children.”

A family left an IKEA feeling excluded and discriminated against.

When attempting to sign her children, Noah, 10, and Ava, 8, into the play area at an IKEA in Draper, Utah, Crystal Harper was told Noah, who has cerebral palsy, couldn’t be allowed inside, KSL News reported.

Harper says her son is not medically fragile; he uses a wheelchair and a walker but can easily crawl. Still, the management would not allow him to be dropped off, even after Noah’s parents offered to take him out of his wheelchair themselves.

The IKEA employees told Harper that Noah couldn’t come in because they cannot provide one-on-one care, and his parents wouldn’t be allowed in to help him out of his chair because the store’s policy does not allow parents in the play area.

“We couldn’t go back to help him out, and they wouldn’t help him out, so it just felt like discrimination right away, like they just didn’t want him there,” Crystal Harper told KSL. “All he needed was some simple help out of his wheelchair.”

IKEA told KSL its policy says only employees are allowed in the play area. The family says they left in tears and won’t be going back.

“This form of discrimination is rooted in improper or incomplete training at IKEA and elsewhere, in addition to a general lack of awareness and acceptance that children of special needs must be treated and accepted as any other child deserves to be,” Ken Stern, the founder of, told The Mighty. “We can no longer remain deaf to the idea that every child deserves to be treated the same, in spite of their physical or cognitive differences. With continued public debate and persistence, we must overcome these discriminatory practices.”

Originally published: January 7, 2016
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