Community rallies for disabled boy Charlie Gordon-Stables

A hurtful remark by one parent to another sparked a mass play date in Auckland on Saturday in support of six-year-old disabled boy Charlie Gordon-Stables.

The youngster with cerebral palsy found himself the unwitting guest-of-honour at the Takapuna event, attended by strangers touched by his mum's recent brush with discrimination.

Tumbling through those early years should be child's play. But Charlie has endured a lifetime of sideways glances, and now an unfortunate verbal attack.

Visiting a beachside playground recently with his mum, Charlie had a seizure and two other mothers wanted him gone.

"One mum said I should reconsider coming to the park because Charlie was frightening their children," says mother Kirstin McKendry.

But on Saturday dozens angry at reading about her ordeal on Facebook came out in support, for what they're calling "Charlie's play date".

"I was appalled that people should see Charlie as someone that should be shut away or shied away from. That's just wrong," says Bart Couprie.

And Charlie, what does he reckon?

"Charlie's a little bit sleepy this morning, but the important thing is any time he does want to come here and his mum wants to come out, now she knows she is always welcome," says organiser Sarah Thorne.

Ms McKendry is heartened by Saturday's gesture, but will still be wary while out and about.

"People come up to you and pull their children away and look disgusted at you for some reason," she says.

It's a reality check for Kiwis in a week that Australia's Pauline Hansen said autistic children shouldn't be in mainstream classrooms.

"New Zealanders are better than that and we know we are, and we need to show that with events like this," Ms Thorne says.

Just the sound of kids playing gives Charlie a lift, Saturday may just be one of his biggest highs yet.


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