ERLANGER, Ky. — Joe and Becky Stenger have three kids. One of their children has autism. So, the family understands the realities of having a child with special needs.
“Families with special needs and neurotypical kids like ours, there’s just no place that’s fun and inclusive for all of them,” Becky Stenger said.
That reality inspired them to open We Rock the Spectrum gym in Erlanger, Kentucky. The gym uses equipment designed for kids with sensory processing disorders. “It’s a sensory gym designed to be inclusive for autism and special needs, but also for kids of all abilities,” Joe said.
We Rock the Spectrum gyms are located all over the country and are independently owned and operated. Playing with her kids at Saturday’s opening in northern Kentucky is Becki Jean, who said her kids love the space already. The gym is a no-shoe zone with swings, reading, a calming zone, a zipline and more. She said its purpose goes beyond just giving her kids a space to play.
“We don’t have to apologize for our children. They can be who they are, they can do what they want to do, and they have this space no matter what their abilities are,” she said.
For Becki Jean, it’s about teaching kids it’s okay if they’re different or if others are different.
“To not have those stigmas. To be able to teach them that love and acceptance, no matter what their abilities are, so they can play side by side and they’re just a part of life with us,” she said.
It’s a mission for the Stenger family to create a space for everyone, and this business is their way of trying to accomplish that.
“We know from personal experience that not all places are very accommodating for kids with special needs and hopefully this can be that place for northern Kentucky,” Joe Stenger said.