MADISON, Tenn. (WTVF) — We Rock the Spectrum gym will celebrate its grand opening in Madison on Saturday, welcoming families of children with disabilities to learn and play at the gym.
“I think the core message of We Rock the Spectrum is inclusion. We want this to be a place where everybody feels welcome and want it to be a safe and nurturing environment for all kids,” said Kavita Jain, owner of We Rock the Spectrum Nashville. “We want this to be a community space where kids are where families with neurotypical kids and neurodiverse kids come together to play and learn and where kids can just be themselves no matter what that looks like.”
Jain said she and her husband decided to open the gym after they had challenges finding a place that was a good fit for their whole family.
“I have an 11-year-old now who is on the spectrum and also a neurotypical 5-year-old. As a mom to a child with special needs, we know it’s very hard to find places where both my kids can go and just feel welcome and have a good time and know that they’re in a space where people understand and they’re not judging,” Jain recounted.
All We Rock the Spectrum franchise locations have equipment such as swings, a zipline and a trampoline. Each location tailors to customers in the area. Jain said they have there are so many young children in Madison, they decided to include more toddler spaces.
Additionally, We Rock the Spectrum Nashville has a calming room.
“We wanted to create a little nook for them and a corner where they can just go be by themselves or just decompress,” Jain said. “And so the lighting in there has been set up such we have those fiber optic lights, the bubble structure, and like we have a weighted blanket in there, a lot of sensory fidgets and toys, which basically just helps the kid regroup, re-calm and then they can come back into the gym floor once they’re ready.”
Parents said that room makes all the difference for their children with special needs.
“We have been searching for somewhere that is friendly to Ellison’s needs. He does seek out any extra stimulation possible,” said Brittany Silva, the mother of a 2-year-old with autism. “He can just shut down completely and he may scream, he may just covers his ears and his eyes and just stop what he’s doing. So it is it’s very different. It could last a few minutes. It could last a while. It’s nice to know, here if that happens, we’re okay to step away for a minute.”
The room is attached to the main gym so families can move in and out of the space seamlessly when needed.
“It’s nice to be in a place where, if someone does suddenly have a tantrum, we can take a minute and have a quiet space to like calm down or just you know, not feel like you’re being judged or getting crazy looks and that you can you feel like it’s just a little more accepting,” explained Jeni Slone, who is the mother of a 4-year-old with autism.
Slone said learning about We Rock the Spectrum was a dream come true.
“About two years ago, I tried to get [my daughter] Josie into gym gymnastics, but the class that she was a part of she just couldn’t keep up and they were like, ‘I’m so sorry. But you know, we don’t really have a place for her here’ And I was devastated. I was like, ‘Oh, gosh, are we going to be dealing with this for the rest of our life?’” said Slone.
The community that comes with a space like the new gym excites Slone’s family.
“In a community like this, you’ll find that you’ll meet other parents who also love having their kids come and play but sometimes you’ll meet people who are like you. My daughter does have autism and it’s been helpful to come across other families with similar challenges and be able to chat about certain things or know what’s going on in the community to places to go you can have this kind of shared experience.”
Not only is We Rock the Spectrum providing a space for parents with special needs, but kids of all abilities are also welcome to play together.
“I want this to be a space where a family like ours doesn’t have to think twice before going and they know that coming here not just as owners, but even other people who come to our gym because we are very strong and promoting our message of inclusion,” explained Jain. “So everyone who comes in knows that this is a space where we welcome all kids of all abilities and so building that accepting and nurturing space for all of our kids.”
In addition to open play times, We Rock the Spectrum Nashville will serve as a community space.
“We have an adaptive gymnastics class with a company called Flip for Function. They will be doing classes here on the weekends. We have a music therapist, from Music and Miracles coming to lead groups here. We’re doing a bilingual Spanish play time for kiddos. So we have a lot of partnerships that we have set up. We’re also going to be offering occupational therapy here for kids that need it because we have all the equipment that they might possibly need.”
The grand opening party is set for Saturday, October 22 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Families with children from all walks of life are welcome for open play, snacks and refreshments from local restaurants sponsored by My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation.
We Rock the Spectrum Nashville is located at 2054 Gallatin Pike N. Madison, Tennessee 37115.