The West Broadway Youth Outreach organization handed out what they call a “joke award” to an eight-year-old child that has left many parents outraged. The boy—who participated in their annual floor hockey and basketball tournament in Winnipeg— was given a certificate that read “Congratulations Captain Cry-baby 2015”, along with a bag of diapers and a pacifier, CTV News reported.
Some of the boy’s relatives posted a photo of the certificate online where it quickly went viral and sparked immediate backlash. Many parents felt the award was inappropriate—others even called for the program director to be fired.
The organization’s program director Ken Opaleke issued an apology on Facebook, stating that the program never intended to be hurtful and that they do not tolerate bullying.
Opaleke said in his statement:
“I would like to say I am truly sorry. Every year we give out a number of ‘joke’ awards at the end of our tournament. It is meant to be fun for the kids and they are typically well received. I can understand how in this instance, my humor was not appropriate and showed a lack of judgment. I never meant to make a child feel bad about himself.”
Opaleke then promised that the necessary steps would be taken to ensure no child is made to feel bullied.
The boy’s own mother said in a Facebook post that she feels the incident has been blown out of proportion.
“This should have never gone viral and for that I am truly sorry and will have to live with this forever,” the boy’s mother said. She also said that she “regretted ever giving family members permission to post the certificate.”
She added that her son is embarrassed about the backlash, and worried that he will never be able to participate through the program again.
The outreach organization is a volunteer-based program aimed toward helping inner-city youth between the ages of four to 13.