Rise to the need: a call for the community to support We Rock The Spectrum Kids’ Gym

By: Brynn Rader, Woodlands Online
| Published 06/01/2019

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THE WOODLANDS, TX -- With businesses popping up around every corner, inevitably a few worthy establishments get overlooked. We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym has experienced this sad fate. The time is now for the community to spread the word and support this hidden gem before its story ends with closed doors like so many others.

We Rock the Spectrum Kids’ Gym (WRTS) may seem to be just another place for kids to play. Look closer and see the underlying differences causing it to stand out in a sea of child-focused establishments. The first WRTS was founded to provide a place for children of all ability levels to play and grow together. Experts have found all children can benefit from the unique sensory equipment, specifically designed to aid children with sensory processing disorders. By allowing children of all ability levels to play together, they can learn a great deal from each other.

“In 2018 the CDC determined that approximately 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder,” the Autism Speaks website states. With statistics like these, chances are you know of a child on the spectrum. Families with a child on the spectrum face distinct challenges. WRTS is an invaluable resource to families and friends of children on the spectrum. The entire facility was designed as a safe and supportive environment for these special kids, their parents and friends.

Within the facility, kids of all abilities experience benefits from the sensory equipment and activities in addition to all the social interaction. Teachers, speech and occupational therapists and parents all see positive results from bringing the children in their care to WRTS. Parents of children on the spectrum note rewarding changes on the days they bring their children to WRTS. These kids are happy while playing at the gym and more relaxed and calm when they return home.

The intention and purpose behind the creation of WRTS along with the increasing need for environments suited to every child, no matter where they are in their development, should be enough to garner the support of the community. Despite this, WRTS in The Woodlands is suffering.

Barbara Kabanu, a kind-hearted mother of three neurotypical boys, is the owner and operations manager of WRTS The Woodlands. Kabanu went to school for occupational therapy. During her internship and years of volunteer service at a church’s Sunday school program, Kabanu worked with special needs children and saw a need to help kids of all abilities. Setting out to help those in need, Kabanu found and began volunteering at WRTS in 2017 under the previous owners. The business had not been profitable since 2016, and the owners were looking to sell. Kabanu’s passionate heart ached to think of the children and families, who so desperately needed WRTS, being denied access to the facility. Although Kabanu received advice to the contrary, she decided to purchase the company, determined to keep its welcoming doors open to the community. The financial situation is still bleak for WRTS The Woodlands; the profits brought in do not cover the monthly rent. Undeterred, Kabanu pushes forward, giving all in her power to continue providing children, both on and off the spectrum, a special place to grow, learn and play. “I have three boys, neurotypical kids, very healthy and advanced,” Kabanu said. “I want to give back by serving others who don't have what I have.”

Leasing costs for commercial businesses in our area are known to be high. WRTS has begun plans to move to another location in Oak Ridge. During the month of June, WRTS seeks to raise funds to offset moving costs. Special pricing on passes allowing access to the gym and all of its activities are available. A three-month pass for unlimited gym use is only $175. One-month passes and punch cards are also offered.

The Woodlands community abounds with people willing to support a good cause. WRTS needs your support. If you have a special needs child, take them to the gym and experience the freedom of a facility designed for your child to thrive and a valuable place of support for yourself. If you have developmentally normal children, take them to the gym to see how much fun they will have in this environment and how they will learn from interacting with children of varying abilities. If you know someone with children, whether on the spectrum or not, consider giving a gift of access to WRTS. If you see the virtue in supporting a business catering to children of all abilities, consider making a donation. With the support of the community, We Rock The Spectrum Kids’ Gym can remain in operation to support the children living here. We can make a difference if we spread the word and move this worthy business into the spotlight.

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