Lynn Harrison wanted to help six-year-old daughter Tammy feel more included, lifting her out of her wheelchair buggy and carrying her.
Having done the same thing at last year’s event, she didn’t think it would be a problem, but staff at Jeavons Wood Primary School in Cambourne, Cambridgeshire, told her it was a problem as there were ‘child protection issues’.
Speaking to Cambridgeshire Live, Harrison said: “When I got to the school they said to me I can’t help Tammy.
“They told me I couldn’t help her because of insurance and child protection, so obviously I wondered and asked how she was going to take part.
“Last year she was able to come out of the buggy and walk with me carrying her.
“When she does that she feels like she’s joining in and she enjoys it more. It also gives her more exercise which is really good for her.”
Lynn and Tammy Harrison. Credit: BPM
Harrison was instead told Tammy’s one-to-one teaching assistant would have to push her in the buggy for the race if she wanted to take part.
She added: “I went and sat with the parents and even they thought it was disgusting [behaviour].
“I said, ‘No, I will take her out and help her do it. She is my daughter and she needs my help.’
“All the other children were taking part and she wasn’t. They said no due to child protection.”
Harrison now believes she has been the victim of <span class=”NormalTextRun SCXW75046860 BCX0″ “>discrimination, adding: “I was asked to leave school premises by a member of staff.
“She kept asking but I said, ‘No, I’m not leaving. I’m staying here and helping my daughter.'”
Harrison even claims the school had recently called her in when they were short staffed, and didn’t have enough trained workers to help Tammy go to the toilet.
“I don’t understand,” she said.
“When it suits them [the school] I can go in and help them lift her to use the toilet, but when it suits Tammy I can’t do it.
“I think it’s absolutely disgusting from the school. If I wasn’t there, she would have had to stay in her buggy and imagine how she felt, sat in her buggy thinking, ‘Look at all my peers and I am left here sat in my wheelchair.’
“Her one-to-one even gave her the option and she said, ‘I want mummy to help me do it.’ But the school never gave her that option.”
Lynn and Tammy at sports day. Credit: BPM
Harrison said Tammy – who has cerebral palsy – was ‘beaming’ when she crossed the finishing line, which made it all worthwhile.
“The school had no choice, I was helping her, and when she came over the finish line everyone was screaming and cheering,” she said.
“The smile on her face when she crossed the finish line was just amazing.”
The devoted mother continued: “If it meant she [Tammy] could join in, I would do whatever it takes. It can be back breaking sometimes, picking her up out of the buggy, but if it means it puts a smile on her face then it’s worth it.
“I totally understand that the one to ones aren’t allowed to lift her in the way I can.
“I totally understand because of everyone’s safety, but because I’m her mum I lift her day in, day out and I’m used to it – so why not let me this time?”
Tammy’s condition means she has had to deal with permanent movement disorders, including poor coordination, stiff muscles, weak muscles and tremors.
She is also unable to carry out tasks that many of her peers can do, but her mum thinks the hardest thing is knowing Tammy is mentally capable and understands what’s happening around her.
Harrison said: “I strive for her to accomplish what she wants to.
“Luckily mentally she understands everything, so she knows what’s going on around her, which in a way makes it worse because she does understand when someone’s telling her no, she can’t do it, because of her ability.
“It’s just so unfair. It should be more of a ‘come on, let’s find a way’ attitude. Yes, it may not be exactly the same as the others but still, let’s find a way.
“Where is their drive to help Tammy? They are only abiding when it suits them.
“Other parents agreed with me and were saying go ahead and help her, saying, ‘Let’s make it a day for her.’ Not one parent had an obligation against it.”
Tammy Harrison. Credit: BPM
The school has since stressed it values the welfare of all its 420 pupils.
Cambridgeshire Live reported the headteacher of Jeavons Wood Primary School, Sue Wright, issued a statement regarding the incident, also requesting that the story should not be published.
She said: “If a parent is upset by a decision taken by the school then we have procedures in place to address those concerns.
“We always try and solve any issues informally but there is a clear complaints procedure to follow if they are not resolved.
“No parent has contacted the school informally or formally to make a complaint about sports day.”
She also said the school cares very much about Tammy’s welfare, and that they did not intend to embarrass her.