An Australian primary school has infuriated parents and disability advocates by asking students to come to school dressed as a disabled person as part of a fundraiser.
In a newsletter sent home to parents on Wednesday, Ramco Primary School in South Australia advised it would hold a "disability day" and fundraiser on Friday, May 29, with prizes for the "best students dressed as a person with a disability."
The aim of the dress-up is to raise money for a clinic in Bangladesh that repairs cleft lips and palates in children, The Advertiser reports.
Its newsletter stated: "There will be prizes for the best students dressed as a person with a disability. Get your thinking hats on and see what disability you can represent!"
The well-meaning idea has missed the mark, with one disbelieving parent saying she had spoken to other parents who were also bemused by the concept, wondering how they were meant to dress their child.
Principal Barrey Niven said the idea had been to raise student awareness of what it is like to cope daily with a disability but the idea had not been conveyed well in the newsletter.
The intention of the fundraiser, devised by the school's Student Representative Council, had been for students to come in with a bandaged arm or leg, he explained. He said a new letter would be sent to parents explaining the idea more clearly.
Paralympic gold medallist Matt Cowdrey said while he was sure the school's intentions were good, he didn't "think this is the best way to raise attention."
"People with disabilities want to be treated and should be treated no different to anybody else in the community," he said.
Disability advocate David Holst said the dress-up day was in poor taste and there were better ways to create awareness.
"You can understand it's with good intent, but it is trivializing some serious issues and is the worst in poor judgement and poor taste," he said.