HOT: We Rock the Spectrum, Preston
We Rock the Spectrum is a Melbourne indoor play centre and children’s gym with a difference – it caters especially for children on the autism spectrum or with other special needs.
The first We Rock the Spectrum in Australia is now open in Preston!
We Rock the Spectrum started in the US in 2010 after Dina Kimmel’s son, Gabriel, was diagnosed with Autism. She personally found few places available where she could take Gabriel and his neurotypical sister, Sophia to play together. So she created a sensory-beneficial play centre and gym for children of all abilities.
Today, there are more than 70 We Rock the Spectrum locations across the world, including Malaysia and Dubai.
Australia is the newest international location, thanks to Melbourne mum Sally Johnson and her brother and business partner, Marcus Johnson. Sally’s son Digby was diagnosed with Autism and ADHD at age two and she also struggled to find places to take Digby to play where he felt included. When she found out about We Rock the Spectrum she immediately knew she had to bring the concept to communities in Australia.
We Rock the Spectrum features sensory-safe play equipment in a fairly small space. Only 24 participants (and their carers) are allowed in the play area at one time.
All We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gyms include ten pieces of uniquely designed therapeutic equipment that promote learning, development, and sensory-safe play.
They also have a relationship with Melissa and Doug internationally. So all of the imaginative play and wooden toys are from Melissa and Doug and available for sale in The Rock Shop.
Find Hotels and Airbnbs near We Rock the Spectrum, Preston
Each location also adds their own equipment and toys in their design.
At We Rock the Spectrum Preston the equipment ranges from active play such as a trampoline and rock climbing wall…
….to quieter play through dress ups, arts and crafts and the sensory wall.
There’s even a calming room with a teepee, bean bags and books.
Lady AB and Baby 2.0 both loved all of the equipment, with the myriad of different styles of swings, the zipline and deep pit being the highlight.
Note that carers are expected to actively supervise and assist their children at all times – it’s not the sort of place where you might be able to sit back and read a book for a few hours. There are also staff on hand, for instance to guide and facilitate some of the craft projects.
While there is technically a baby and toddler’s area it’s not separated from the rest of the play area. In fact Lady AB and Baby 2.0 spend a lot of time there with the toys.
While the kids are sure to have fun, We Rock the Spectrum also hopes to become a community hub for Melbourne’s special needs community. Caring for a child with special needs can be an incredibly isolating experience for many families. So having a space where children can benefit from activities that help them regulate their sensory needs allows everyone to relax and have fun.
At the moment We Rock the Spectrum is open for free play, though it may change to limited 2 hour sessions. There are also plans to run after school and holiday programs, school excursions, tween/teenage-only sessions and parties.
They are also registered as an NDIS provider and will offer the space to OT, Speech and Play therapists to work with their clients.
Another added benefit of the play centre is that you can BYO food or there is a coffee and healthy snacks vending machine. Birthday Parties can be self-catered or catering organised through We Rock the Spectrum’s preferred catering company. Families are able to hire out the whole venue or host smaller parties for kids who don't want large affairs. To launch the new packages in 2020, We Rock the Spectrum are offering $75 off Birthday Party bookings.
We Rock the Spectrum is a fantastic new addition to Melbourne’s collection of indoor play areas. It’s fun, accessible and best of all, inclusive of all children, no matter what their abilities.
Since We Rock the Spectrum opened in Preston in 2018 there have been hordes of visitors coming from all over Victoria. The gyms are now planning to expand to Moorabbin, Geelong and Sydney in 2020.
If you're looking for a sensory gym in Melbourne's south check out My Puzzle House
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- No shoes, food or drinks allowed in the space;
- You can BYO food or there is a coffee vending machine and a healthy snacks vending machine.
- For those with special needs children, you can pre-book your spot.
- You can call in advance to make sure the gym is not too crowded if your child has sensory processing issues;
- You can book Private Playdates where you can rent the gym for just you and your friends and family.
- If you’re intending to visit often buy a Monthly Membership and visit as many times as you like in a month.
- Parking is at rear of laneway, not much parking on Gilbert Road.
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