Parents of child with cerebral palsy told it's 'against policy' to allow son in IKEA play area

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DRAPER — A shopping trip to worldwide furniture giant IKEA ended in tears for the Harper family from Herriman.

"They're obviously making us feel unwelcome there, so I don't want to go where I'm not welcome," Jeff Harper said.

Harper, his wife, Crystal, and two children, Noah, 10 and Ava, 8, went to the IKEA Sunday.

"It wasn't busy so that's why I thought, I'll take the kids in there," Crystal Harper said.

When attempting to sign Noah and Ava in to the Smaland play area, Crystal Harper said the employees informed her they "couldn't allow Noah inside."

"(The employee) said, 'Well, she'll pass (pointing to Ava), but I don't know if he will (pointing to Noah),'" Crystal Harper said.

Noah, born prematurely, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He uses a wheelchair and a reverse walker to help him get around.

"He is not a medically fragile child, he can just transfer out (of his wheelchair) and crawl around," Crystal Harper said.

After consulting with a manager the IKEA employee informed Crystal Harper her child would not be allowed in.

"(The employee) said they cannot provide one-on-one care," Crystal Harper said. She explained to the employee that Noah did not need one-on-one care just help out of his wheelchair.

"They were not budging," Crystal Harper said.

Noah's parents said they offered to take him out of his wheelchair themselves but were told it's against the IKEA policy to allow parents in to the play area.

KSL recived this statement from IKEA:

"IKEA wants to make shopping fun and safe for the many people; and this includes the children's play areas in each of our stores. Providing a safe and secure environment is of upmost importance so that all individuals and families can thoroughly enjoy the IKEA shopping experience. "As all IKEA co-workers are carefully screened, it's our policy that only authorized IKEA co-workers are allowed in the Smland/playroom. This policy protects the well-being and safety of all children in Smaland. "However, there are situations in which a parent is granted access to retrieve their child. "As for Smaland requirements, IKEA has chosen to use toilet training and height as a criterion for admission in an effort to ensure safety and security.* "*Note children with disabilities are exempt from the toilet training requirement and may enter with a diaper or pull-up." —Mona Liss, IKEA Corporate Public Relations Manager

"We couldn't go back to help him out and they wouldn't help him out, so it just felt like discrimination right away like they just didn't want him there," Crystal Harper said.

They say after a dead-end discussion with the store manager they left in tears, and say they won't be back.

"All he needed was some simple help out of his wheelchair," Crystal Harper said. Nicole Vowell, reporter/anchor for KSL-TV; Twitter: @NicoleVowellKSL; email:

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