Childrearing

Family of Boy With Skin Condition Shamed at Local Water Park

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Imagine being at a water park. You’re with your family, splashing about, swimming, maybe floating along a lazy river. It’s a nice time, but then suddenly, someone comes over to tell you they are concerned about your child (who has a non-contagious skin condition) being in the water with other people. But not only do they ask about it, they actually force your whole family out of the water. In front of everyone. It sounds terrible, right? It’s what just happened to one family in California who were shamed at their local water park. And you can bet that the matriarch of the family is now speaking up and speaking out.

It all started when Sharon Catalano and her family took a trip to Gilroy Gardens. Catalano has been going to the park for years now with her family, so much so that one of the life guards knows her family. But on June 4th, as Catalano’s son was wading in shallow water, a park employee came up to her husband and asked that the family exit the pool to come and speak with an EMT.

“There we were. Middle of a packed pool area. So.many.people,” Catalano recalls on a now viral Facebook post on her Masto Wyatt Warriors page.

“The employee told us how there had been several complaints and concerns about Wyatt. I listened. I felt so sad.”

Catalano’s son, Wyatt, happens to have an incredibly rare and non-contagious skin condition called diffuse cutaneous mastocytosis. Wyatt was born with the condition, which happens to show up in the way of blisters and thickened skin on different parts of the body. Those who are unaware of the condition might confuse it for some else, like measles, fifth disease, or eczema. Some of these diseases are contagious, others are not, but it’s understandable that a parent might be a bit paranoid about sharing the water if they believe someone has a potentially contagious illness.

Catalano wondered who had felt the need to go speak to the park’s employees, and also wondered why they hadn’t come up to her family to ask themselves. She also didn’t understand why the park employees weren’t more discreet, to save them from feeling shame as they were made to leave the water.

“Shame on you Gilroy Gardens for treating my son in this way,” Catalano said in her post, which you can see in its entirety below:

“What killed me was when this employee told me that one of the lifeguards recognized my son and was certain there was nothing to worry about. That stunk. Even though this information was shared, you still had EMTs respond? Not right,” she wrote.

Catalano is still upset with Gilroy Gardens, and rightfully so. It sounds like she would have been totally receptive to any parent who came by to inquire about her son, and even to the park’s employees had they just simply asked first. She hopes that at the very least more people will learn about mastocytosis after the incident and through her post.

“Gilroy Gardens is supposed to be about community, so here’s an idea for you Gilroy Gardens. Share what happened today at your Water Oasis. Train up those who you employ to recognize differences among people and better ways to handle situations where there might be fear, based on someone’s differences and appearance.”

Hear, hear.

(Image: Facebook / Masto Wyatt Warriors)

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