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Another child in wheelchair turned away from museum

ACWORTH, Ga -- An Acworth woman said her son was also turned away from a museum in Savannah because he was in a wheelchair. Marsha Prater said she became upset when she heard the museum's curator explain why a North Carolina girl in a wheelchair was turned away this past weekend. "It kind of struck a chord with us because the same thing happened to us a little over a year ago," she said.

Prater, he son Alec and her boyfriend went to Savannah last March for spring break. Alec is in a wheelchair because he has muscular dystrophy. Alec wanted to visit the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum. "Being a museum and him being in a wheelchair we felt like that was one of the things he could be able to do and enjoy," Prater said.

Prater said even though there were four handicapped parking spaces in front of the museum there was only a staircase leading to the entrance. She said she walked up the stairs to speak to an employee. "He said that the museum was not set up wheelchair accessible," she said. "The guy apologized but we didn't feel it was a heart-felt apology."

Her frustration from a year ago re-surfaced Tuesday night when Prater saw on 11 Alive News that another wheelchair bound child was turned away from the same museum this past weekend. "I shook my head and I was with my boyfriend and said no, this happened to us," she said.

Lexie Haas, 11, who requires a specialized wheelchair, was told by an employee the wheelchair wasn't allowed into the museum. A museum curator apologized to the Haas family and explained it was a one-time mistake. "Unfortunately one of our interpreters or tour guide misunderstood our policy," said curator Wendy Melton.

That's what infuriated Marsha Prater even more. "I couldn't believe that this has happened a year later to another family and it can't be just because one person working there doesn't know the regulations or what to do with somebody who's in a wheelchair," she said.

Prater said she understands it is hard for historic sites to accommodate people in wheelchairs, but the Americans With Disabilities Act was passed 23 years ago. She feels her son should have been able to enjoy the museum like everyone else.

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