Utah family argues discrimination at local waterpark


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SALT LAKE CITY — Members of a Utah family say Splash Summit Waterpark discriminated against their daughter, who is diabetic and suffers from celiac disease.

The Cox family says their 15-year-old daughter, Kolbie, needs a small cooler of food and medication to manage her Type 1 diabetes, which they say has never been a problem until this last week when park management told them the cooler broke its policy.

Kevin Cox said that before he had a child with diabetes, he had no idea how tough it can be to manage. Now, years later, the family knows how to make life, travel and fun a success.

"We're used to kind of needing exceptions everywhere we go. We've traveled a ton with my wife, she's celiac, my daughter's diabetic and celiac, and like Lagoon, Disneyland, all these places, there's never been a problem," he said.

But that changed last week when Janae Cox dropped off her daughter at Splash Summit in Provo.

"This time around security wouldn't let us through," Janae Cox said. She was convinced it was a misunderstanding. It wasn't.

"The management team came out and they let me know that their policy was in line with the (Americans with Disabilities Act) and that she was allowed a small Ziploc sandwich bag of food into the park," Janae Cox said.

When Janae Cox got home, she called the local ADA office, which said that the bag policy isn't an ADA standard, but the laws aren't clear-cut.

Splash Summit released a statement to KSL-TV that says, in part, it wants all of its guests to feel safe and heard, while still standing by the bag policy and that it is "ADA compliant and follow(s) industry standards similar to Six Flags and other similar-sized organizations."

The park also says it "allow(s) unlimited exit and re-entry to the water park throughout the day for access to food stored outside of the park."

Janae and Kevin Cox with their 15-year-old daughter Kolbie are shown in Salt Lake City on Monday. The Cox family says Splash Summit Waterpark discriminated against Kolbie, who is diabetic and suffers from celiac disease.
Janae and Kevin Cox with their 15-year-old daughter Kolbie are shown in Salt Lake City on Monday. The Cox family says Splash Summit Waterpark discriminated against Kolbie, who is diabetic and suffers from celiac disease. (Photo: Winston Armani, KSL-TV)

The Cox family said this whole thing could be easily resolved.

"What's shocking about all of this is this can be so easily fixed," Kevin Cox said. "A call, an apology, and then changing the policy to making it more inclusive."

The park said it doesn't allow coolers into the park. Janae Cox said she saw coolers that day when she picked up her daughter. KSL-TV saw at least one cooler in the park on Monday.

The full statement released to KSL-TV from Splash Summit Waterpark can be read below.

"Splash Summit Waterpark has always been a facility that cares for, employs, and accommodates those with disabilities. We have always allowed medical devices into the park and have never denied someone that right. We are ADA-compliant and follow industry standards similar to Six Flags and other similar-sized organizations.

Splash Summit makes reasonable modifications to our standard practices for those with special dietary requirements that are protected under the ADA.

These modifications include:

  • Allowing food into the water park equal to what would fit into one (1) 7x8 inch sandwich-sized bag. One small cooler may be brought into the park to carry these items.
  • Unlimited exit and re-entry to the water park throughout the day for access to food stored outside of the park.
  • A designated, shaded picnic area that allows guests to enjoy outside food while still maintaining proximity to the water park.

Following nationwide industry standards, outside food or drink is not allowed in the park.

Compliance with these standards has vastly improved cleanliness of the park, safety of our guests, and decreased maintenance problems with our equipment and pools.

We want all guests to feel safe and heard. We've clarified our policy which can be found online at splashsummit.com."

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Debbie Worthen

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