Specialized gym for children with special needs helping kids rebound in this pandemic

Posted at 5:26 AM, Apr 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-07 17:48:52-04

MILWAUKEE — When schools closed amid coronavirus fears, it left children with special needs at risk.

Much of their development comes from in-person learning and their peers.

An Oak Creek gym that opened during the pandemic has made a huge difference in one Milwaukee boy’s life.

Lisa Walters describes her son DJ, “If there was someone there, he’d be parallel playing where he’d be watching them and copy them.”

Today, he has many friends who attend the gym.

The 5-year-old’s mom Lisa says her son has burst out of his shell, thanks to the We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym in Oak Creek.

“I’m so grateful that I found this place!” said Walters.

While she was working to figure out DJ’s exact diagnosis, COVID hit.

Despite the pandemic, owner Linda Niemela took a leap of faith and opened, “We already engaged to the franchise in December 2019 committed to the lease and I was like well…we're opening!”


She also noticed what was happening to children attending her three different therapy clinics, “Starting to see some language problems and some fine motor issues because they didn’t have their peers to be modeling after.”

The gym pivoted to help children with virtual school. Manager Shannon Will says, “They are so intelligent. I think parents and other people underestimate that and realizing just treat them like any other child.”

To help offset the cost of DJ’s therapy and open play, the Milwaukee mom decided to apply to the corporation’s non-profit foundation and was awarded money.

Walters said, “They gave us the grant for him to come and play more and learn how to interact and more of a structure in getting him ready for kindergarten in the fall.”

DJ is looking forward to summer camp at the gym.

Here is your Rebound Rundown:

We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym
140 E Rawson Ave Suite 314, Oak Creek, WI 53154

Current Hours (as of 4/5/2021):

  • Monday - Friday: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
  • Sunday: 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.
  • $12 for two hours of play (siblings get $2 discount)
  • Learn more by clicking here.

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