YMCA:  Stop discriminating against children with autism and other disabilities
  • Petitioned Niel Nicoll

This petition was delivered to:

President and Chief Executive Officer, YMCA of the USA
Niel Nicoll
President and Chief Executive Officer, YMCA of the USA
Neil Nicoll
Afterschool Director
Holly Redeker
CEO Georgia Mountains YMCA
Rich Gallagher

YMCA: Stop discriminating against children with autism and other disabilities

    1. Sarah David
    2. Petition by

      Sarah David

      Gainesville, GA

My oldest child, Logan, has autism.  He and my daughter had been attending the after school child care program at their school, which is run by the Georgia Mountains YMCA.

Before the YMCA accepted my son into the child care program I told both the program director and on site staff about his condition and they were understanding.

I discussed with the YMCA staff as well as my child's special education teacher that he exhibits elopement behaviors, a common symptom of autism. This simply means he will try to leave an enclosed space.

The YMCA staff member assured me they would not allow my child to leave and that they would provide an additional staff member for supervision on the days my son was scheduled to attend. To my knowledge additional supervision was never provided.

On Wednesday, October 24th the staff at the YMCA called a meeting with me. I was first asked to pay extra to keep my son in the program, then was told that he was no longer allowed in the program.

The reason I was given for the decision was that he was a flight risk due to his autism. Once outside the meeting room and in front of additional staff and YMCA patrons, staff members denied having kicked my son out.

I was scheduled to work that afternoon and had only two hours to find an alternative child care provider. I have yet to find a suitable permanent child care solution. I have yet to receive a refund or a written explanation from the YMCA.

I feel that if the YMCA is going to provide a public service at an elementary school every child who attends this school should have access to this service.

Please sign my petition and join me in telling the Georgia Mountains YMCA and the YMCA of the USA that discrimination against children with autism and other disabilities is unacceptable. I am asking them to provide all children with disabilities reasonable accommodations and an equal opportunity to participate.

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 6,000 signatures
    2. Turned away from meeting with local YMCA

      Sarah David
      Petition Organizer

      The Georgia Mountains YMCA contacted me on Sunday, November 4 to schedule a meeting with me for Wednesday, November 7. When I showed up with a parent advocate, they refused to meet with us.

    3. Reached 250 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Lisa Kisaloff AUSTRALIA
      • 9 months ago

      This is very typical behavior displayed by various organisations and unacceptable! It has been my experience to be promised discrimination would definitely not occur and it simply DOES!

    • Pearl Reed CHICO, CA
      • 9 months ago

      because God gave us the children to LOVE not to discriminate against they ech have a special talant that God has given them the biggest is LOVE of others

    • Shawn Avery KESWICK, CANADA
      • 9 months ago

      no one should feel discriminated

    • JoAnne Klein BAKERSFIELD, CA
      • 10 months ago

      I believe it is absolutely reprehensible to not provide proper facilities for parents to care for children with disabilities OF ANY KIND. To refuse such care is quite cruel. Not only to the parents, but also to the affected children. In a sense, such "closed" facilities, or where it's claimed there isn't anyone trained to handle the child contribute to the difficulties of raising a child, as well as insulating other "well" children from understanding and learning tolerance of those who are "different".

    • Kim Nelson BEAUFORT, SC
      • 10 months ago

      After advocating for my daughter with autism who was regularly by staff members' sons at a local YMCA, my memberships got cancelled and was told not to enter in its premise.


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