CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – It’s the first of its kind in Chesapeake. A new gym is opening in the city but it’s more than a playground for kids.
We Rock the Spectrum is a sensory-safe gym for kids with special needs.
“You just find your place to stimulate your senses and have a ball,” said Whitney Aulston, co-owner of We Rock the Spectrum Chesapeake.
Dana Young-Askew said it’s been difficult to find a safe space for her son, Drayden.
“Every parent wants to see their kid feel happy and safe and just be a kid and for once put down a little of those barriers or challenges that he has and excel and play,” she said.
Drayden is autistic and has a developmental delay.
Young-Askew said We Rock the Spectrum is what she has been looking for.
“This will be a place where he can choose and have a little bit of autonomy over how he moves,” she said.
The gym is filled with all sorts of sensory-safe play, and behind all the bright colors is a mission to cater to all children’s abilities.
“We have a pretty wide assortment of swings. We have something for the babies. Something for older children if they want to lounge around,” said Mary Hassell, co-owner of We Rock the Spectrum Chesapeake as she gave a tour of the new place.
While kids are enjoying the gym, the owners set up specific activities, so kids can learn too.
“If you sit them down in a classroom, their attention span is not that well. They can pay attention for about 15 minutes and after that, they are just running all over the space, but if you have a place where they are playing and learning, they don’t realize they are learning,” Hassell said.
The owners said their new gym is a judgement-free zone and a safe space for families.
“Their child could have a tantrum and they immediately feel they have to apologize. This is not that place. Here this is a community where we all understand,” Aulston said.
She hopes to build a community of families who understand each other.
Want to go?
The grand opening for We Rock the Spectrum is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18 at 211 Providence Road in Chesapeake.