We Rock the Spectrum 2020 Vision – The Year in Review
February 18, 2021 | In: Autism Resources , Why We Rock
The year 2020 was undoubtedly a year for the books! As what will notoriously go down in history as one of the most challenging years yet, We Rock the Spectrum Worldwide is proud to say that we have come out of 2020 stronger. We are now more ready than ever to continue making a difference in communities in every corner of the world! From providing free childcare to essential workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to celebrating an entire decade of changing lives, here is a look back on another eventful year of We Rock the Spectrum:
A ROCKIN’ New Decade Begins
We Rock the Spectrum’s Corporate team started off the new year full of excitement, hope, and determination to make 2020 the best year yet! With over 80+ locations worldwide and more to come, CEO & Founder, Dina Kimmel, and her Corporate team in Tarzana, CA worked hard to ensure all owners and their We Rockers had all the tools they needed to thrive in the year ahead. We Rock the Spectrum – Dallas was the first to open its doors in 2020 on January 11th. We Rock the Spectrum – Franklin Park on March 7th soon followed. With two highly-successful grand openings completed and many more to come in the upcoming year, there were no signs of slowing down for this inclusive kids gym!
However, on March 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The days following would be some of the most difficult for businesses across the board. In accordance with the CDC and individual country, state, and city orders, business owners had to make major changes to their operations. As a result, many of our very own gym locations had to temporarily halt their sensory-safe services in order to protect their local We Rockers from the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
MBRTS Sponsors Free Childcare for Essential Workers
CEO & Founder, Dina Kimmel, knew there had to be a way that she could continue to help We Rock communities worldwide and be a relief for essential employees – all while ensuring the health and safety of every child and their family. On March 30th, 2020, We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym Worldwide officially announced that participating locations would offer the children of healthcare professionals, first responders, grocery store workers, and essential emergency personnel with FREE admission for its We Rock Care services.
In order to provide this free service to children of essential workers, the franchise turned to its non-profit, My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation, for support. An initial donation of $40,000 from Dina, her family, and the Corporate team, helped fund this initiative for front-line workers to find a safe environment for their children during these difficult times. As an essential business under community-based operations that allow essential businesses to operate, We Rock the Spectrum was officially deemed an essential service that would provide countless frontline workers with the childcare they need to continue keeping our communities safe.
We Rock on Wheels was also a huge asset to members of the community who were not able to access our sensory-safe gym during these times. It provided a safe, customized sensory play experience for families in need of relief from isolation. We Rock On Wheels delivered the sensory play that kids desperately needed to fulfill their sensory diets. This service brought the sensory equipment featured in our facilities right to your front door!
A Franchise Stronger Together
Despite the setbacks of adapting to a new normal, the We Rock family banded together to support and encourage one another. In the face of the daily challenges presented by COVID-19, Dina, Shane Stahl (Chief Strategy Officer), AJ Silberman (Community Manager), Grace Covino (Project Manager), and Tyler Tanner (Project Manager) helped host daily Facebook Live videos to establish an open line of communication with all gym owners around the world. This was a testament to We Rock’s dedication to providing continuous support to its franchisees.
By summertime, the economy was beginning to take steps towards safely reopening small businesses so that owners could get some financial relief and so that the communities that desperately needed them could access their resources again. In accordance with CDC guidelines and country, state, and city restrictions, WRTS Corporate designed a set of strict re-opening procedures and protocol that would go into effect immediately for all locations.
Many of our gyms from across the globe made headlines for our COVID-19 essential services and the work that our owners were putting in to provide the necessary sensory play that children desperately needed throughout the various major events of the past year:
- We Rock the Spectrum – Greenville: Businesses offer free childcare for essential employees – WSPA News 7
- We Rock the Spectrum – Preston VIC: Autism groups helping with COVID-19 anxiety – Herald Sun Australia
- We Rock the Spectrum – Federal Way: Sensory Gym for All Children Is A Necessity Every Day of the Year
- We Rock the Spectrum Headquarters: Franchise concepts focus services on special needs
- We Rock the Spectrum – Australia: COVID-19 is not holding back these mums! We Rock the Spectrum opens four gyms
- We Rock the Spectrum – Belfast: Plans for Europe’s first gym for children across the autistic spectrum are being developed in Belfast
- We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym – Tarzana, CA: Children’s Gym Franchise that Provided Free Childcare Services to Essential Workers Reopens Its Doors
- We Rock the Spectrum – North County STL: Extra fear: Having a child of color who also has autism, Child care centers adapt to aid frontline workers battling virus spread – STL Today, Businesses and organizations in the St. Louis region step up to help families during COVID-19 – KSDK
- We Rock the Spectrum – Lake Charles: Virtual Learning Camp Feature
- We Rock the Spectrum – Brainerd Lakes: In Business: “We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym” Providing Virtual Learning Space
Not to be missed, the annual Rockin’ Resource Fair went virtual! This highly-anticipated event has been a very important resource for the Southern California special needs community for the past 4 years. While they were deeply saddened that they were not able to be there for them in person, Kimmel and the Corporate team knew that the show must go on! On September 12th, 2020, Dina, Grace, and 20+ special needs vendors joined together on zoom to be a source of relief during a difficult time. Check out the whole thing below!
A Decade of WRTS
Though it had been a challenging start to what was supposed to be a fun-filled year of accomplishments, We Rock the Spectrum still had many milestones to celebrate!
In September 2020, We Rock the Spectrum celebrated a momentous milestone – 10 years of We Rock the Spectrum! Starting as a mother’s humble way to provide for her child, We Rock the Spectrum has become a movement that has spread across the globe. Thanks to the perseverance, passion, and strength of Dina Kimmel, WRTS has made huge strides in making the world a better place for ALL children through our sensory safe gyms, We Rock on Wheels, and our non-profit My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation, to name a few.
Our franchise also started the journey of expanding to Saudi Arabia. Thanks to our new partnership with the Alhokair family, We Rock the Spectrum will be opening a minimum of 14 locations across Saudi Arabia and the United States, as well as 4 new We Rock on Wheels buses, within the next 24 months! Communities worldwide struggle to find adequate resources for those with special needs. With this global franchise opportunity, people around the world are coming together to create safe and inclusive places where children of all abilities can play and grow together.
A Year Worth Remembering
Our flagship gym in Tarzana, CA ended this unique, yet eventful year, on a high note when they hosted their popular annual event, Sensitive Santa, on December 12th, 2020. For the health and safety of all children and their families, the event was modified to drive-thru only.
In partnership with the Center for Autism Related Disorders and Shannon Penrod of Autism Live, children of ALL abilities were given the opportunity to meet Santa (and his helpers!) and received a holiday gift made possible by our generous sponsors: Thinkfun, Ann Williams Group, Shoenhut, North Star Games, Luxbox, Endless Games, edx Education, Discovery Toys, Griddly Games, Masterpiece Puzzles, and Club Squishy. Fox 11 Los Angeles even got word of this exciting day and stopped by to check it out! See our feature below:
We also saw an influx of openings and re-openings worldwide! Here are the newest additions to our franchise from the past year alone:
We Rock the Spectrum – Dallas – January 11, 2020
We Rock the Spectrum – Franklin Park – March 7, 2020
We Rock the Spectrum – Sydney West NSW – May 16, 2020
We Rock the Spectrum – Forest Hill – June 1, 2020
We Rock the Spectrum – Geelong VIC – June 6, 2020
We Rock the Spectrum – Moorabbin VIC – June 13, 2020
We Rock the Spectrum – Milwaukee – June 20, 2020
We Rock the Spectrum – Cincinnati – September 2, 2020
We Rock the Spectrum – Roswell/Atlanta – August 31, 2020
We Rock the Spectrum – Asheville – September 5, 2020
We Rock the Spectrum – Bellevue – September 12, 2020
We Rock the Spectrum – Kansas City – December 7, 2020
We Rock the Spectrum – Houston Memorial – January 4, 2021
We Rock the Spectrum – Chicago/Palatine – January 23, 2021
We Rock the Spectrum – Redondo Beach – February 5, 2021
We Rock the Spectrum – Tucson – February 6, 2021
Not to be overlooked, our franchises also became well-known for our Virtual Learning Programs. For students who were struggling with the adjustment of learning from home, this program provided them a space where they could not only learn in a clean and safe environment alongside peers with on-site tutoring, but also provided a range of sensory-fulfilling activities from arts & crafts, music, games, and “recess” Open Play.
And finally, after much anticipation, the We Rock the Spectrum franchise introduced their Universal Gift Card Program, which allows We Rock customers to give the gift of inclusive, sensory-safe play, redeemable at any of our locations around the world.
We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym is proud to say that we have come out the other side of 2020 with our heads held high and a bright future ahead. Our Corporate team, owners, and their staff worldwide look forward to continuing our mission to provide sensory-safe, healthy play and inclusion for children of ALL abilities in EVERY corner of the world.
Want to become part of our rapidly-spreading worldwide mission to provide a place where no one ever has to say “I’m sorry?” We are always looking for dedicated and passionate special needs families, professionals, and advocates to join our global team. Get started on your We Rock journey today.