HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — A new sensory gym is coming soon to the Rocket City! Sensory gyms are often used for children with special needs to help improve fine motor skills, coordination, and cognitive-behavioral social skills.
We Rock the Spectrum sensory gyms were first created by Dina Kimmel in California. She opened the first location after her son was diagnosed with Autism as she struggled to find a place where her son and daughter could play together.
Now, the owners of the new Huntsville location, Vanessa and Joaquin Tucker, told News 19 they decided to open a location in the Rocket City after hearing and relating to Dina’s story.
“Our son is on the Autism spectrum and he has sensory processing issues,” Vanessa shared. “We couldn’t really find anywhere that his brother could come as well and play with him, so we decided after a lot of research to bring something like this to Huntsville.”
Each gym features 12 pieces of therapeutic equipment designed to work with many of the sensory processing issues children may face.
The Tuckers told News 19 that while sensory gyms are typically utilized by children with Autism or Sensory Processing Disorder, their gym will be a place for all children to come and play.
“It’ll be for children on the spectrum and children not on the spectrum to come in and play together, have fun together, and grow together,” Vanessa explained.
They also added that this is a place where children who have Autism can be themselves with no worries.
“Being a parent of someone who has a child on the Autism spectrum and having to say ‘I’m sorry,’ this facility allows you not to worry about that,” Joaquin told News 19. “It is a safe haven where your child can just be a child regardless of his or her background or emotional distress or cognitive ability.”
The gym will also provide after-school care, STEM and art classes, and summer camps. While the exact location has not yet been announced it will be in the Hampton Cove area and the Tuckers told News 19 they hope to open a second location in Athens in the next few years.
We Rock the Spectrum gyms also has a non-profit organization that benefits these sensory gyms across the country. Anyone interested in donating can do so here.