Australia’s first open to the public, indoor play gym for children with sensory disorders has officially opened its doors in Preston, Melbourne.
For brother-sister business partners and Australian Master Franchisees Sally and Mark Johnson, the opening spelled the beginning of a dream come true.
Drawing inspiration from its installations around the world, We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gyms are a network of sensory safe indoor play spaces, founded by American parent Dina Kimmel.
But now, the gym is on home soil.
Featuring 10 pieces of occupational therapist designed equipment to aid in the physical development of participants, the environment is safe and able to keep children with sensory disorders such as autism, sensory processing disorder and ADHD feel regulated and engaged.
“As well as being a place for play, we will soon be introducing classes and therapy programs into our Preston gym and have office spaces for allied health professionals to consult from the gym.”
“We also host birthday parties and private play dates and offer respite services.”
As mother of a 7 year old with autism and ADHD, Sally knows firsthand the issues often faced by children and their parents, such as overstimulation and other people’s attitudes.
“When I heard about the growing network of We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gyms across the world, I knew I had to work out a way to bring the concept to Australia.”
Ms Johnson says it took little convincing for her brother to join her on the business venture.
“As a very involved uncle and father or two young girls, it didn’t take much to convince him about what an amazing thing this would be to bring to communities around the country,” she explains.
“We have fun, qualified staff, many with lived experience of disability who help families make the most of the equipment, engage with others, feel supported and most importantly, have fun!”
Ms Johnson says both herself and Mr Johnson are now working on their second gym in Melbourne and are fielding enquiries for franchises around Australia.
They will also be taking bookings for music, art and yoga classes shortly.
“We can’t wait for We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gyms to be accessible to as many families around the country as possible.”
The Preston centre officially opened on August 11 and both Ms and Mr Johnson were thrilled with the large turnout.
“We saw several hundred families come and check us out over the first few days,” she says.
“There was a lot of emotion and love in the air as parents saw their children enjoying the space.
Ms Johnson says the grand opening was a dream come true for herself and Marcus, as well as the members of the US Corporate team who attended.
For more information on We Rock The Spectrum Kids Gyms click here.
For more information on disability support and services, please visit DisabilitySupportGuide.com.au