Gym helps kids navigate effects of COVID-19
May 5, 2021 | In:
BALLSTON SPA – Seven-year-old Jaelyn Bumbarger loves playtime just as much as any other kid.
“She’s also learned social skills with kids with disabilities, and [it allows] her to be the kid on the playground or inside the gym and be inclusive and say ‘come on and play with us,’ ” says Dawn Bumbarger, Jaelyn’s mother.
Jaelyn is a frequent playtime pal at We Rock the Spectrum in Ballston Spa, a sensory-friendly gym for children of all abilities and a safe space for those with special needs.
“So what makes this place different is that all of the equipment we have at the gym, you’ll find at an occupational therapy clinic. And it is perfectly designed for children who have sensory needs,” says Eva Millard, owner of We Rock The Spectrum.
Right now, the gym is at 33% capacity, with only six kids allowed in at once. Millard says physical activity is more important now than ever.
“During the pandemic, we are seeing a lot of children who are at their computers and are sitting, and they’re not getting that physical input that they need, which hinders how children can learn within the school setting,” Millard said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everyone’s “normal,” but professionals say getting back into a routine as soon as possible is especially important for children with special needs.
“The biggest thing we saw during the pandemic was kids getting dropped off for our programs and having difficulty getting back into their routines that they need to do in order to thrive during the day,” Millard said.
She adds that for some of these kids, the consequences of the pandemic will be long-lasting, and that it could be years before they can get back the skills they had before.
“Now we have to work on social distancing and working on wearing masks, so we really had to re-learn a lot of different skills, and then learn new skills on top of that,” Millard said.