Averie Mitchell is an extraordinary 8-year-old girl. She rock climbs, plays football, fishes, rides four-wheelers, and attends circus camp. She’s also on a competitive gymnastics team, where she excels at cartwheels on the balance beam. What makes her talents even more amazing for a young girl is that Averie has had a prosthetic leg for most of her life. She was born with a condition called pseudarthrosis of the tibia, and her right leg was amputated when she was two years old. And yet, she does everything a kid with two legs does, and then some!
Although Averie and her parents, Kim and John, are confident in her abilities to experience the world like any other 8-year-old, they recently ran into a situation that floored them. Averie and her family went to Frontier City’s Wild West Water Works in Oklahoma. She rode many different rides, and then climbed up the steps of a water slide to head down her first water ride of the day, according to ABC News. However, just as Averie was about to head down the slide, an attendant stepped in front of her and told her she couldn’t go down.
“These kids, and vets, and anybody with a prosthetic leg can do anything a person with two good legs can do,” Kim said.
So Averie and her mom walked all the way back down to converse with the lead attendant on duty, where they were again told that Averie wasn’t allowed to go down the slide. Her prosthetic leg could scratch the slide, and that could apparently lead to risks for other guests.
“My first response was anger and I was very upset, but Averie thought she had done something wrong,” Kim said. “She was crying, so I knew at that point that I needed to keep my calm, take care of her, then get the situation figured out.”
This rule was not on any of the signs at the park, and it wasn’t posted online, either. Yet when they were escorted to the front of the park by security so that they could speak with a manager, they were told it was policy.
The park gave the Mitchells a full refund on all three tickets. They have already updated their policies online, and will have physical signs up at the park soon. Guests with prosthetics can now ride under the following conditions: “1. The rider must be able to safely enter and exit the slides without assistance. 2. The rider must be able to assume the prescribed riding position. 3. Prosthetic devices must not have any exposed metal in order to be permitted on the slides.”
While Kim doesn’t believe that Averie’s prosthetic would have scratched the slide in the first place, she is pleased that no person will be required to remove their prosthetic before riding in the future. “We were still upset at the fact of how it was handled, but we decided that the awareness needed to be out there,” she told ABC.