A climbing instructor at Funtopia in Surrey has been fired after she was filmed failing to come to the aid of a crying four-year-old girl – because she was too busy on her cellphone.
The instructor’s actions – or rather, inaction – were caught on camera on Wednesday by the young climber’s mom, Happy Lani, who later posted the video on Facebook.
Happy told Vancity Buzz she began filming because the lesson did not get off to a good start.
“When class started, the instructor didn’t acknowledge my daughter,” she said. “So I asked my four-year-old to start running laps to warm up. I even ran laps with her.”
Happy says that instead of taking over the lesson, the instructor simply sat down on the floor next to the soft mats and pulled out her phone.
“So my daughter finishes running and now we are waiting for the instructor to say something, which she doesn’t,” said Happy.
“So I instruct my daughter now to do stretches. Which I am now doing with her… The instructor is still on the floor next to the mats on her phone.”
Happy says this was her daughter’s fourth lesson with the same instructor, and that instructor had been on her phone a little in previous lessons, although “nothing severe.”
But this time was different.
“At this point I just now sit on a bench to see what’s going to happen next,” she said. “The instructor then gets up and puts gear on my child.”
“I watched as she tells my daughter to do the wall, which she has done before. But instead of watching her, she pulls out her phone again!”
‘I was trying hard not to cry.’
Ignored by the instructor, Happy’s four-year-old daughter got stuck on the wall, understandably panicked and began crying for help.
But, as the 50-second video shows, the instructor ignored her cries and continued to play with her cellphone instead.
This EFFIN teacher!!!!!!!! My daughter is crying up there and she is ON HER PHONE TEXTING!!! Funtopia Surrey
Posted by Happy Lani on Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Happy says she’s received a lot of criticism for filming, instead of helping her daughter at that point.
But, she says, she needed to get proper evidence to prevent this happening again.
“I was trying hard not to cry. And really hard not to freak out,” she said. “But it was easy to keep calm when you realize you have to, for your child, because if you were to have seen her face when she got down… She was already so scared.”
When Happy confronted the instructor about what had happened, she says she denied everything. Happy immediately took the footage to a Funtopia supervisor.
‘Far from anything acceptable’
Funtopia owner Yasen Nikolov told Vancity Buzz the instructor was fired that night, as soon as he saw the video.
“The instructor’s behaviour was far away from anything acceptable,” Nikolov said. “She broke several internal policies… She’s not going to work here any more.”
Nikolov said while the climbing wall’s safety features meant the girl was never in any danger, he completely understood her panic and emphasized the instructor should have helped her.
He also said Funtopia would be happy to reimburse the girl’s mother for the entire climbing course and they would be happy to have them back if they would like to return.
Happy says her daughter was shaken up at the time, and cried in her sleep later.
But she believes the little climber will bounce back, and says as a mother, she doesn’t have any problem with Funtopia, now they have put a stop to the instructor’s behaviour.
“I am not saying it’s a good thing the instructor is fired,” said Happy. “But I am sure she has learned her lesson for her next employment. She will have to earn back trust.”