Sensory-Friendly Gym Opens In Forest Hill
August 27, 2020 | In:
FOREST HILL, MD — There’s a new gym for kids in Harford County. It is open to all but has features that make it especially appealing to those with special needs.
The facility opened June 1 and has sanitization procedures in place so all equipment and toys are cleaned between sessions.
Swings, a zip line, dress-up, a trampoline, puzzles and other attractions are available. There’s also a crafts space, party room and a retail area with Melissa & Doug products.
Trey and Nikki Wooton of Bel Air own the business.
“We have two kids; one has autism, one does not,” Trey Wooton told Patch.
“This is what we wished we had when my kids were little,” said Nikki Wooton, whose children are 13 and 15 years old now.
We Rock the Spectrum is designed for children who are “neurotypical” — those who do not have disabilities — as well as for those with special needs.
It is likely to appeal to neurotypical children who are 6 months to 10 or 11 years old, Trey Wooton said; for those with special needs, the gym is suitable for all ages, preschool through adult.
The couple’s experience in Harford County made them realize the need for a spot like We Rock the Spectrum.
“A lot of times we just didn’t go places because it was just too much,” she said. Their son has autism and is high functioning. “In a regular setting, he would get overstimulated,” she said.
The Wootons describe their gym as “sensory friendly.”
That means it will “accommodate the different needs,” Nikki Wooton said. “You can climb on things but also if there’s a need for quiet or for somebody to take a break, this is also a safe place.”
Just steps away from the brightly colored swings and toys, a calming room offers respite for anyone who may get overstimulated. A beanbag chair, lit-up jellyfish and puzzles are inside.
“I want you to be able to be able to come in and feel like you can be yourself,” Nikki Wooton said.
“If you’d like to go sit in the arts and crafts area and do puzzles and be quiet over there, then go do that,” she said. “If you want to do the zip line 200 times and go really fast on it or have someone push you, then go do that. If you want to jump on the trampoline or sit on the trampoline, or if you want to just cuddle on a swing and chill or go on a swing really high, and not really worry about what people or thinking or doing, then do that.” The idea is for the space to be safe for everyone.
We Rock the Spectrum is at 1998 Rock Spring Road at the Rock Spring Station Apartments & Shoppes in Forest Hill. There are various options, including private bookings, open play time and “Kids’ Day Out” when parents can drop off their children.