2017 ended on a great note for the We Rock the Spectrum franchise! On Saturday, December 9th, 2017, the sensory kids gym expanded to its second international location, We Rock the Spectrum – Dubai. The new owner is Dr. Nashila Jaffer, and it was on a vacation to Florida that led her on the path to bring her own We Rock the Spectrum gym to the Dubai community. Dr. Jaffer stumbled upon We Rock the Spectrum – Boca Raton, and after taking her two daughters there to put it to the test, she saw how much they enjoyed it and immediately knew Dubai would benefit tremendously from it. Soon after, she joined the We Rock the Spectrum family in June of 2017 and the rest is history!
The grand opening celebration was a fun-filled day with some of the Corporate team and our very own CEO and founder, Dina Kimmel, flying out to celebrate this momentous occasion. Families from all over the Dubai community came out to the Beach Park Plaza Centre to welcome the beautiful, new gym. Both Dr. Nashila Jaffer and Dina Kimmel gave speeches to welcome the guests, and even notable people of the Dubai community came out to show their support! The day was a huge success with tons of kiddos playing on the sensory equipment, doing arts & crafts, getting their faces painted and much more! Congratulations again, Nashila! We can’t wait to see all the incredible things you do with your gym for the Dubai community.
Watch the video below of Dina Kimmel’s speech in Dubai as she shares her story of bringing We Rock the Spectrum from her home to what it is today:
First I want to say thank you. Thank you for everyone being here I consider this an honor and a privilege. If you would have asked me eight years ago, would I be standing in a mall in Dubai carrying on the mission and love of our children through We Rock the Spectrum, of course I would say, “no.” My story, of course as you all know, started with our own family, I have a beautiful daughter, Sophia, who’s 13 years old, and now we have Gabriel who’s 10.
Back in 2009, our son Gabriel was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. My life changed forever, it was no longer children coming to work with me, it was about my child. It was about what could I do, what could I find; therapy, nutrition, what colors, what to eat, what not to eat. Our world changed forever, it is the loneliest diagnosis, I will tell you that someone can get if they don’t have support.
Sadly, we were kicked out of many indoor playground places, restaurants, because of Gabriel’s behaviors, but what a lot of families don’t realize is it’s not the child with special abilities that suffers, it’s the siblings. His sister Sophia suffered greatly. After getting kicked out of the third or fourth indoor playground area, I looked at my husband and I said, “that’s it” and I created what you see behind you in our home. The first We Rock the Spectrum was built in my home. After seeing the miracles that happened with Gabriel and Sophia, he began to speak, he began to sleep, he began to interact with his sister and her friends.
This was the miracle. I looked at my husband and said, “We have to pay this forward. We have to let other families know what this equipment does, that everyone deserves this chance, this chance to be a child. To play like every other one.” Inclusion. Inclusion was not out there eight years ago. When we opened the first We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym after three weeks it was very apparent that there was nothing like this. When we opened it, it was out of the love and need for my own family and I thought if I could just pay my bills, Gabriel could have everything he needs and Sophia can have a place to play, too. That’s all that mattered to me.
This is what it’s about, it’s about our children, our children are our future, our future leaders, right? This is what it’s about and this is what we need to focus on, and that’s what I did, instinctively for my own family. Then what happened was different countries, different states reached out. “When’s a We Rock the Spectrum opening up in our town, in our city, in our country?” Actually ironically enough Dubai was the first country to reach out of an interest of We Rock the Spectrum, luckily I didn’t go with them, Nashila, right? (laughs) When I told my husband three and a half years ago that I wanted to began franchising he said, “Are you crazy? What do you know about franchising, Dina? You’re a business owner of a clothing store.” I said, “Look at our children, look at the children in our area. There’s such a great need, how can we say no?” Gratefully I have an amazingly supportive husband and family, and they all embraced it.
Here we are today, with 70 locations actively in three countries and soon to be in five countries, and here I am in Dubai and speaking in front of you. I am so grateful, I have seen the change in Dubai this year. Your Highness Sheikh Mohammed, he gave an amazing, of course as you guys know, a week and a half ago, announcement about inclusion in your schools. But, back in April he did something very big. He declared that all children of special needs were not to be called children with special needs, they were to be called “People of Determination.” That was it for me. When Nashila sent me that article it was before she and Abdullah and Ravi came on board as the master franchisees of your beautiful country here, and I read that and I said, “People of determination. That’s what our children are, that’s what they need to be. To learn how to speak, to learn how to walk, to learn how to eat.”
I can not believe that we are here today, as Nashila and Abdullah and Ravi have all seen, it’s not easy to open up a business, let alone in a country that has never seen anything like it. So, I want you all to understand and know the bravery and the courage that it took for this woman to do this. I commend her, I am honored to be here. This is a dream, this is a dream for me and I’m lucky to be looking out and seeing my own family who traveled here with me, my sister Melisa, my nephew Shane, and the rest of my team from America who have traveled here to be with you and show you the true mission of inclusion and that is We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym now in Dubai. So I want to say congratulations to all of you welcoming this amazing gym to your country and the first of many to come. Thank you.