Thursday, August 23, 2012
Nickelodeon Universe Responds
Today I received a phone call from Mr. Eric Engstrom, director of Mall of America attractions. He was responding to the online complaint form I filled out regarding our experience at the mall on Monday. I must say, I was pleased to get a phone call from him. I mean, you fill out and online form and hit "submit" and trust that someone is going to actually read it! And is Jimmy the the tech support guy reading it or someone who can actually DO something? Mr. Engstrom gets bonus points for reading my blog post to find out the whole story. ;-)
Mr. Engstrom was not at all happy to hear about this situation and how it transpired. He reacted personally to the discrimination that occurred. Why? Because Mr. Engstrom has Cerebral Palsy (CP). He has spent his entire life dealing with similar situations and he wasn't happy to hear it happened on his watch.
We discussed all the details of the incident. He acknowledged the inappropriateness of the discussion that took place about Angela with her standing right there, along with the reaction of staff to my request for Angela to ride independently. Mr. Engstrom never made excuses for their behavior. He never made excuses to cover their butts until he had an opportunity to speak with the staff who were involved so he could backpedal later like some other department heads might do. No, he never did any of that. I so appreciate him for the way he discussed this with me.
Mr. Engstrom asked me what I would like to see happen, including how they could make it up to Angela and the boys. I told him I didn't want anything, other than to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else.
I have Mr. Engstrom's word there is change coming to the Mall of America! We discussed several options for training staff in the area of disability awareness. After all, they have countless people with a wide variety of disabilities coming through the mall on a daily basis. The staff needs to know how to react appropriately. Training policies at the mall will be re-written.
While I did not want any type of compensation, Mr. Engstrom has given us four Nickelodeon Universe wristbands that will not expire.
Thanks to my readers for your support as I navigated dealing with this incident. I know many of you are raising kids who are differently abled. Please, if something happens to you, don't be afraid to speak up. Don't think of it as "making waves". Instead realize bringing an issue to light can create change so those coming behind you don't have to experiences it themselves.