DERBY, N.Y. (WKBW) – Parents of children on the Autism spectrum or of children with special needs know how difficult it can be to find a safe, welcoming space where kids can just be kids.
There are two spots in Western New York offering a space for kids of all abilities, one in Williamsville and the other in Derby. “We Rock The Spectrum” serves families in the northtowns and southtowns alike.
The kids gym was founded with the intention of providing a place for all kids to play together. It’s the only children’s gym that operates on an all-inclusive philosophy, allowing all kids to use sensory equipment specially designed for kids with sensory processing disorders. There are different stations at We Rock the Spectrum, from painting and dress-up, to a calming sensory room with lights and tactile textures on the walls.
Husband and wife team Jessica and Jeff Sills run both gyms, understanding the need for families to have a safe, inclusive space for their children. Jessica is a speech-language pathologist and Jeff is a physical education teacher.
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WILLIAMSVILLE, NY – This week’s “Unique Places” features a gym for all kids, all ages, and all abilities.
The motto of We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym is “Finally a place where you never have to say ‘I’m sorry.'”
The owner, Jessica Sills, says the mission is simple. “To provide that safe, nurturing environment for all children, to be fully inclusive, to be the place where children can come and be who they are,” said Sills.
Sills is a speech and language pathologist. Her husband is a phys-ed teacher. They combined their loves to open a place for all children – on and off the autism spectrum – to come and play together. They now have Kids Gym locations in Derby and Williamsville.
Knowing the needs of children on the spectrum, this gym also has a sensory calming room.
“If children become overwhelmed in the gym, they don’t have to leave. They can go in sit down chill out regroup and then come back out to the gym,” said Sills.
Jessica and Jeffrey Sills have walked similar paths since their days as high school sweethearts.
They graduated together from Lake Shore High School, married and blazed careers working with children – Jeffrey as a physical education teacher at John T. Waugh Elementary School, Jessica as a speech-language pathologist who provided home visits for Erie 2 BOCES and the Lake Shore school district.
The Derby couple, both 33, became vegans together, had two daughters – Camila, 4, and Olivia, 3 – then turned their attention toward what they’d discovered on the job was a community need: a gym for all kids, regardless of their needs.
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A gym in Evans has become hugely successful because of its unique perspective.
We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym is designed to help children with autism and other sensory processing disorders. It has also become a part of the community in other ways. We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym has partnered up with Lake Shore High School’s work-skills program to help students practice skills they will need after leaving school. The students work on everything from communicating with customers to organizing paperwork to cleaning.
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We Rock the Spectrum offers a bevy of sensory equipment, which is fully inclusive for children with autism spectrum disorder — but it is a gym for all kids… Since their grand opening, the owners (Jessica and Jeff Sills) have seen plenty of fun times, and also some wonderful empowering moments.
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DERBY, N.Y. (WIVB) – A new gym is opening in the southtowns to help kids with sensory processing disorders like autism grow and learn. For two and a half year-old Odin Green, finding places for him to play can be a struggle. So his mom, Elida, drove two hours to bring him and his sister to the “We Rock The Spectrum” kids gym in Derby. Continue reading Gym opens to help kids with autism, sensory processing disorders
DERBY, N.Y. (WKBW) – A new gym is coming to the Southtowns. We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym is open for all children, but specially designed to help kids with autism, sensory processing disorders and ADHD.
Continue reading New gym in WNY for children with sensory processing disorders
Founder and CEO Dina Kimmel remembers getting kicked out of places because of her autistic son’s behavior and worrying that her daughter would feel like she’s getting less attention. “I said to my husband there has to be other families, other people who need this,” she said. Continue reading New gym caters to kids with autism
My Brother Rocks The Spectrum Foundation is our 501(c)3 (tax id #46-4393642) non-profit organization that helps families receive the funding they need to participate in our social skills/activity groups, classes, camps and more. This allows children to be able to use the specialized sensory swings and activities WRTS offers. We offer these groups to children and young adults from 2 to 18yrs of age.
Our mission is to provide all children with any ability or disability a place they can build friendships, keep active and learn to use their energy in their bodies in a productive environment. WRTS uses its equipment and activities to integrate children in this environment also through their Open Play. We also receive funding from other state programs like the Regional Center, that provide one to one attendant care and other specialized services required to ensure all children can find the benefits of healthy play.
All funds donated to MBRTS are distributed to all of the WRTS locations Nationwide to complete our mission of giving families a community and, “finally a place where you never have to say I’m sorry.”
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Cradle Beach was founded in 1888 with the sole purpose of serving underprivileged children from the city of Buffalo in a time when diphtheria, cholera infantum and typhoid were major killers of infants and children. The Fresh Air Mission, as it was called then would provide a place where these children could enjoy the sun, water and wind, while having enough to eat. They were brought to the shores of Lake Erie by horse drawn carriage, lived in tents on the hill and were brought to a big farm house for meals. For many years the organization continued to serve children in this capacity. As it began to grow in numbers of children served and in structure, cabins were built for the children to sleep in. Programs were put in place to make their stay an enjoyable one, while still helping the camper to become healthy.
In 1946, after many years of serving only underprivileged children, the summer camp program took its first group of children with special needs, financed by the Buffalo Rotary Club. A new era in the history of the camp had begun. A new philosophy began to take shape, holding true then and now – every child, even the most small and deprived has importance and dignity. The children with special needs were integrated into the program with “well children”. Physical structures were built with these children’s lives in mind. The cabins were at ground level, allowing easy access for those in wheelchairs or using walkers. A tunnel was built for the children to easily cross the street, as the camp was split by Old Lakeshore Road.
As the needs of the children served by Cradle Beach Camp expanded, the need for a larger, more easily accessible camp was realized. In 1996 the camp was moved to its current location. Still located on the shores of Lake Erie, the camp is over 60 acres of beach, woods, nature trails and open space. The camp facilities include 15 cabins, large dining and recreation hall, infirmary, computer lab, library, and an arts and crafts center. All facilities are designed to meet the special needs of our campers. Outdoor facilities include a tennis court, basketball court, baseball field, walking-hiking trails, low ropes course, a universally accessible playground, adaptive challenge course and a swimming pool that is one of very few in the state to be fully accessible to all children…..
The Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western New York is a collaborative group of member voluntary agencies that provide services to people with developmental disabilities. While honoring individual agency missions, it is the intent of the Alliance to assist agencies to develop relationships, promote unified strategies and share risks for the mutual gain with and for the benefit of people with developmental disabilities.