BRANDON — A children's gym serving kids with autism and special needs celebrated its Brandon grand opening in January.
We Rock the Spectrum, a national franchise that started in 2010 in California, provides sensory-safe play for kids with autism, special needs and neurotypical development.
The gym features 10 pieces of therapeutic equipment specifically designed to work with many of the sensory processing issues that children on the spectrum face, while providing all children with the sensory-diet necessary for improved learning and neurological development.
For example, the zip line helps children with vestibular sensations and sensory feedback, while allowing them to better develop upper-arm and core strength. We Rock the Spectrum offers unique classes, children's day camp opportunities, arts and crafts and multiple pieces of play equipment.
Michelle and Phil Kapusta are the owners of the local We Rock the Spectrum. They have spent the last 24 years as an active duty military family, and after being stationed in Tampa twice, they consider it home. The Kapustas have three sons, one of which was diagnosed with autism.
After spending much of their time researching autism and seeking out support groups and resources, they decided on We Rock the Spectrum because it was a place where both of their children could play together and that's why they wanted to open a location in the greater Brandon area.
"We are overjoyed to bring this gym to the community for all children," Michelle said. "After a life of service as a military family, we are so grateful to be able to bring a full-inclusion gym that teaches all our children to love, respect, play and embrace all of our unique and beautiful differences in the world."
The gym, located at 1076 E Brandon Blvd., Suite 102, offers daily open play time for $12 or an all-day pass for $20. Membership cards can be purchased for $50 or $100 for approximately 5 or 12 visits.
Dina Kimmel, an autism mom from California, serves as CEO and Founder of We Rock the Spectrum. Kimmel opened the first gym after her son was diagnosed with autism and she struggled to find a safe place where both her son and her daughter could go together. The gym's motto: "Finally a place where you never have to say I'm sorry."
In 2013, the gym began franchising locations and now boasts of more than 60 gyms in 22 states and international growth.
New Montessori comes to area
Patricia Ayala has opened Montessori Kids Universe-Brandon, a school that offers a classic Montessori education enhanced with an art and science enrichment experience.
The school, which accepts students between 6 months and 5 years old, is located at 3721 Canoga Park Drive in the Bloomingdale area.
They offer tours/interviews for interested applicants. Call (813) 571-3400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your tour.
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