By Kimberly Mack
Dina Kimmel, a successful entrepreneur, is giving to the community, and word is spreading. She is giving strength, love, patience, and acceptance. Kimmel, president and owner of We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym in Tarzana, has designed and built her kid’s gym with a specific clientele in mind. Thirty percent of the children that come through the door are children who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD. It all started with a little boy named Gabriel.
It was in 2009 that Kimmel learned that her youngest child, Gabriel, was Autistic. He was two years old. Kimmel and her devoted husband Tim, feeling overwhelmed at this news, set out to learn all they could about Autism.
The Kimmels discovered that no two children’s symptoms are alike. There is a wide spectrum of symptoms. There are approximately 46,000 children born every year in the U.S. that will be afflicted. But, when detected early enough and treated, many children go on to lead more fulfilling and independent lives. There is hope.
Motivated by her love and drive to help her son, Kimmel then took over the space of her son’s previous gym, and designed the only Open Play occupational sensory gym in Los Angeles. All of the equipment and games are colorful and beckoning. Great care was taken to avoid any possible sensory overload. Everything was designed to enhance and improve sensory skills, strengthen coordination, and teach crucial communication skills and social interaction. There is an arts and crafts room, and an abundance of sensory-fun toys. Everything is designed to provide a fun and safe learning experience. It is a happy place and a gym children love. Kimmel’s seven-year-old daughter, Sophia, is a regular visitor, and Kimmel is thrilled she has been able to discover games and activities that her two children can do together.
This sense of togetherness seems to be at the root of the gym’s mission.
“My gym is a place where all kids – despite their differences — can have an equally fun time,” Kimmel says. “The gym has the best top notch occupational equipment in it that is essential for kids on the spectrum and just good old fashion fun for typical kids.”
This month marks the gym’s one year anniversary. “I love it,” Kimmel beams, looking around. “So many people need to be given a safe place where they feel comfortable. It’s my home, and we’re all family.”
Kimmel has also built a dedicated team of licensed therapists, each highly accomplished in their own field of expertise. Her support staff consists of licensed occupational and behavioral therapists, social workers, and language and fitness specialists. They are all compassionate professionals. They work tirelessly with parents to reach their child’s goals in both group and private sessions.
Regularly scheduled Youth Fitness classes held by Coach Kee, a certified children’s fitness specialist, are popular and contagious. Her classes are designed to build self confidence and improve self esteem, as well as help the children to develop agility, balance, cardio, courage, and leadership. Her women’s fitness classes are equally popular.
“I have an amazing staff,” Kimmel states. “I’m very blessed. I’ve gotten such a welcome in the area, and I’m very proud of what this has done for the community.”
And We Rock the Spectrum is a bona fide deal. “To use a gym with the equipment I have in it usually costs $150 an hour, and we simply charge $10,” Kimmel says.
In addition to their regularly scheduled classes, they also have special events, private play dates, and birthday parties. They offer their own online store of toys and gluten-free snacks.
“With Autism on the rise and not everyone able to afford to pay the expensive prices for private therapy, We Rock makes it easy for just $10. It’s a place where special needs kids and their family and friends can play too!”
We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym is located at 5520 Crebs Ave. in Tarzana. For more information, call (818) 708-0860 or visit https://werockthespectrumkidsgym.com.