A Decade of WRTS: The First International Location in Malaysia
August 24, 2020 | In: Dream With Dina , Events , Why We Rock
Since the opening of its flagship location in Tarzana, CA in 2010, We Rock the Spectrum has become the fastest growing international franchise of sensory gyms. Its mission of inclusion has become global and provided a space for special needs children like never before. As We Rock the Spectrum’s 10-year anniversary on September 1st approaches, we are looking back at the moment the We Rock the Spectrum franchise went global.
We Rock the Spectrum (WRTS) opened its first international location in Ara Damansara, Malaysia on December 22nd, 2016. This grand opening celebration was a huge success, with CEO and Founder Dina Kimmel and her family making the big trip from California to be in attendance. The Former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, also made a special appearance.
So how did We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym reach Malaysia? It all started in the summer of 2015, when Khairy Jamaluddin, one of the owners of WRTS Ara Damansara and Malaysia’s Former Minister of Youth and Sports, attended the Special Olympics in Los Angeles, California with his wife and three boys. While looking for a place to take his children to play, he stumbled across We Rock the Spectrum through a simple Google search. As father to a son on the spectrum, finally finding a place that accepted his child, while also providing a fun place for his neurotypical children, was a miracle. He knew he had to bring WRTS back with him to the special needs community in Malaysia. Within a year and a half, he and his family, with the assistance of Kimmel, had succeeded in bringing WRTS to Malaysia, a place where children, both special needs and neurotypical, could engage in sensory-safe play and grow together.
Almost seven years after opening her first gym in 2010, Kimmel and her family were now seeing their concept making its way across the globe to Ara Damansara, Malaysia. This was the beginning of her mission of inclusion, a mission to create “a Place Where You Never Have to Say I’m Sorry”®. This expansion marked the beginning of We Rock the Spectrum’s international growth.
Today, We Rock the Spectrum provides a safe haven for children in eight different countries, with 77 US locations and 8 (and counting!) international locations. For Kimmel, growing her WRTS internationally has become a personal mission. “There are too many families across the globe in need of a safe space for their loved ones,” says Kimmel. “I will not stop spreading our mission of inclusion until every family, on every continent, has access to the accepting environment we foster at our We Rock the Spectrum locations.”
What started as a mother’s humble way to help her child on the spectrum has become a movement that is spreading across the globe. In a span of 10 years, We Rock the Spectrum’s mission has crossed cultural borders and continues to grow and adapt. “We started our gym with the simple motto ‘Finally a Place Where You Never Have to Say I’m Sorry’®. Now, with international locations all over the world, knowing that my son can travel and still be at home in a We Rock really emphasizes why our mission is so important. Our children need love and security, and We Rock the Spectrum exists to be that safe place wherever our children are.”
With all that Kimmel has achieved in the past 10 years, we are truly excited to see where We Rock the Spectrum will be 10 years from now. Let’s keep ROCKIN’!