A disabled 24-year-old man from Surrey, British Columbia, was kicked off a bus Oct. 18 because there was allegedly no room for him.
The victim, Paul Scholefield, has cerebral palsy, reports the Canadian website Global News.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, cerebral palsy “refers to a group of neurological disorders that appear in infancy or early childhood and permanently affect body movement, muscle coordination, and balance. CP affects the part of the brain that controls muscle movements. The majority of children with cerebral palsy are born with it, although it may not be detected until months or years later.”
Scholefield’s family and caregivers are outraged with TransLink, the public transportation system that serves as Metro Vancouver’s regional transportation authority. “We are responsible for regional transit, cycling and commuting options as well as Intelligent Transportation System programs,” notes the official website.
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The incident happened after Scholefield had just finished playing floor hockey at the nearby recreation center. “I’ve always played goalie so, when I have to, I have to take my goalie bag on the bus,” he explained.
He was riding the bus when he was informed that there was a problem with his bag. “The driver had told me that the bag was too big and if a stroller came on then I’d have to get off,” Scholefield said. This despite the fact that he was sitting in the section on the bus designated for disabled passengers like himself.
Sure enough, a passenger with a stroller entered the bus a few stops later, and the driver informed Scholefield that he would have to get off the bus. “He turned around and said that I needed to get off and I had asked him if I could move toward the back more and he said no,” Scholefield recalled. “I was just in tears when I got off the bus.”
Although he is capable of taking the bus on his own, the disruption of his routine made the situation very challenging and disorienting. Fortunately, he was able to call his life skills worker, Walt Giesbrecht, for help. “Paul had every right to be on that bus, in that area of the bus which is for people with handicaps,” Giesbrecht said.
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TransLink has launched an investigation into the incident. “We think that we’ve identified the operator,” TransLink spokesperson Jennifer Moreland said. “We are really hoping to sit down with Mr. Scholefield and his family to confirm a few details so that we can then go and speak to the operator.”
However, Scholefield remains concerned that this could happen to him again. “Incidents like this shouldn’t happen to people with disabilities,” he said, “especially when the only way they get around is by bus and SkyTrain.”
Sources: Global News, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, TransLink / Photo credit: geralt/Pixabay