A Christchurch father and his disabled son have been left angry and disheartened after a member of the public penned a nasty note and placed it on their car window on Sunday.
Paul Francis had planned a fun day out at the Rangiora swimming pool for his children, including 9-year-old son Jack who has cerebral palsy, a muscular physical disability.
But when a woman saw Jack and his family run off to the pool after parking in a disabled car park, she decided to take matters into her own hands by leaving a "shaming" note on the car.
Paul told the Herald the whole experience was disheartening.
"We showed up around 9.30am and I went to help Jack out the car. I put the disability parking sticker on display and he ran off to the pool.
"As I was walking in following Jack with my two other children I looked over my shoulder and saw a woman hovering by the car. She looked a bit agitated but I didn't play any attention to it.
"I thought in the back of my mind she may have been upset by the fact I parked where I did with my children."
As Francis and Jack were in the swimming pool the agitated woman placed the note on the car window leaving Jack with a nasty surprise when he returned.
The note accused Paul of taking advantage of the mobility card.
"You may have a mobility card but today's use of it is not genuine. Shame on you," the note read.
Nearly one-and-a-half hours later, Jack returned to the car to go home. But before Paul went to take off, Jack noticed the letter on the car.
Paul and Jack sat together to read the note - leaving the father of three horrified and Jack's confidence dented.
"Even though I have a permit to park there and I have every right to park there as a caregiver of Jack, I was blown away by it," Paul said.
"He said 'she's just an idiot, Dad. Because she doesn't know.' But I said 'No, people assume and don't know about your disability'.
"Then he just went quiet and you could see him reflecting on people's actions and behaviour and it brings his own disability back to the front of his mind after we just had fun in the pool. And that's when the disappointment comes in. In one respect what the woman did was brave, but it's cowardly in another sense.
"Jack struggles with his motor skills on his right-hand side and we've had various different treatments for mobility.
"For the untrained eye, they wouldn't see anything wrong with him until they go to shake his hand and realise he has no strength in his arm."
This prompted the father to take to social media to call out the woman to come forward so he could educate her about different disabilities.
"Due to the nature of my son's disability he gets very tired after physical activity...like swimming... so this is why I parked where I did," he wrote on social media.
"To the woman who left this ...shame on you for a cowardly attack that my son found on the windscreen. All you did was make him sad and sap his confidence on an already demanding condition..... and all because you assumed you thought you were doing the right thing. All you have done is make a** of yourself in the eyes of a nine-year-old boy who is disgusted you have belittled all the doctors appointments and surgery he has had.
"Here is a list of mistakes you made in trying to challenge my family's right to own a disability badge:
1. You assumed the driver was not disabled
2. You assumed because there was no wheelchair this gave you the right to challenge.
3. Not all disability is obvious to the narrow-minded eye.
4. Maybe you assumed I'd parked in this bay because I had three kids and missed the young mum's bay.. perhaps I think not though."
Paul has since asked the woman to make herself known in the hope that education will stop discrimination against disabled people.
"There are so many people with different conditions that aren't apparent to everyone but they need those disability permits.
"I don't want to run the woman down, I just want her to understand that disabilities come in all shapes and sizes."
The father-of-three says the Rangiora swimming pool has been a fantastic help to Jack, supporting him in his ongoing physio and reached out to offer their support following the incident.
"The management team accepts our Cerebral Palsy Society vouchers that we get given and they go out of their way to tailor Jack's swimming lessons to his needs."