Ripley releases statement on teen reportedly turned away from gy - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Ripley releases statement on teen reportedly turned away from gym

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(WMC-TV) - The Ripley city attorney, Steve Crain, wrote an email to the mother of a child with down syndrome who was denied membership to a city fitness center. According to Sherrie Cates, the Lauderdale County Family Fitness Center said they are not trained or equipped to handle people with down syndrome. Crain said this entire situation is a misunderstanding:

Ms. Cates: Thank you for your email to Ms. Elder. Per City policy she forwarded your note to City Hall which was forwarded to me.

As you stated in your email I have promised to do everything that can be done to give your family, including your daughter Mollie, adequate accommodations in order that she can use (and benefit) from the Ripley Fitness Center's facilities. I promised you this on the first day we met, April 9th, as well as when I met with you and your husband, Kevin, on April 10th. I stand by that promise.

However, as I recall on both occasions you informed me that you were satisfied with my proposal to have some option(s) available by no later than Wednesday April 17th. It is also my recollection that you accepted my apology for any misunderstandings or misstatements by or on behalf of the City. Regardless, at our last meeting on April 10th it was agreed by all of us that Mollie had not been added to the application for your family membership and therefore the City did not have Mollie's required Waiver and Health History forms that everyone is required to sign prior to membership (nor notice of her or your intent for her to join). In your initial application, you had filled out applications for you, your husband and your oldest daughter....but not for Mollie.

There is a reason for the Health History form. It is to give the Fitness Center an opportunity to determine if a physician's form on limitations is needed for the protection of the applicant as well as the other members. The Health History form also serves to alert the Fitness Center if we need to make accommodations for the applicant. (In fact, as you have stated the Fitness Center's Brochure states that the City does not discriminate.....But, it also says "All forms [must] be completed & signed by members" and "Any member considered high risk by facility manager must have a physician release".)

Back to our promise to make accommodations for Mollie, we all agreed on April 10th that you would provide the City with a physician's statement as well as one by you, the parents, so that we can include that in our discussions regarding the accommodations for your daughter. As soon as we have these we will meet to attempt to resolve any and all of you and your family's concerns.

However, I must say that while I apologized on both of our meetings for any grief you felt; I only mentioned that the City was desirous of working out an accommodation for Mollie based upon her current medical condition (as we have done for dozens of others)otherwise it would be discrimination. If you understood me differently I am sorry but the City is, in my opinion, doing everything we can do to be fair to you, your family and all other members of the Fitness Center and our community, in general.

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