A Montreal-area mom is going viral with an emotional plea for people to accept children with disabilities.
It comes from an experience she had over the weekend with her own baby daughter.
“My daughter is normal, she’s just special,” Vanessa Pelletier says in a video posted to her Facebook page on Monday. The Terrebonne mother can be seen clutching her baby, her eyes welling with tears.
The video already has over 700,000 views.
“I faced a situation this weekend, and I want to share it so this no longer happens,” she tells the camera.
She explains that her daughter Floralie is missing part of her arm and hand. Pelletier recounts how at a store, a little girl pointed the disability out to her mother.
“She said ‘Ew, mom! Look! She’s missing an arm!’ and the mother didn’t say anything, she just said ‘shh! shh!’ That’s not the right attitude to have,” Pelletier said.
Pelletier says she wishes the other mother would have reacted differently.
“It’s up to you as a parent to approach me, say ‘look how she’s beautiful, she’s different, and it’s normal,” she said.
It’s a predicament Louis Bourassa of The War Amps is all too familiar with.
“This video touched me right at the bottom of my heart,” said Bourassa, the Quebec Director of The War Amps Child Amputee Program. “You realize still today there’s a lot of work to do.”
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Bourassa lost his leg in a lawnmower accident at the age of four.
“When I started to receive negative comments from the public around me, that’s when I realized I was different. It’s through the eyes of the other ones that I realized I was a disabled person,” he told Global News.
Bourassa agrees parents need to talk to their kids, and thinks that young and old people should just ask questions.
“If you want to know what’s happening to my leg, just ask me. You’re going to receive an answer. At the same time, I’m going to promote that it’s not because I have one leg that I’m different,” Bourassa said.
Natalie Cinman, a public speaker who is three feet tall and uses a wheelchair, says she also gets looks and comments all the time and hopes the mother talked to her child after.
“Most likely, she was embarrassed and wanted to remove the child from that moment,” Cinman told Global News.
To her, the media is key.
“If a child sees one of their characters in their cartoons or TV shows that might be missing an arm or be in a wheelchair or be a different race, then they’ll think it’s part of normal society,” she explained.
Though it was a painful moment for Pelletier, Cinman thinks the way the video brought the conversation to the forefront will be a vital help.