All posts by WRTS Ballston Spa

Gym helps kids navigate effects of COVID-19


Seven-year-old Jaelyn Bumbarger loves playtime just as much as any other kid.

“She’s also learned social skills with kids with disabilities, and [it allows] her to be the kid on the playground or inside the gym and be inclusive and say ‘come on and play with us,’ ” says Dawn Bumbarger, Jaelyn’s mother.

Jaelyn is a frequent playtime pal at We Rock the Spectrum in Ballston Spa, a sensory-friendly gym for children of all abilities and a safe space for those with special needs.

“So what makes this place different is that all of the equipment we have at the gym, you’ll find at an occupational therapy clinic. And it is perfectly designed for children who have sensory needs,” says Eva Millard, owner of We Rock The Spectrum.

Right now, the gym is at 33% capacity, with only six kids allowed in at once. Millard says physical activity is more important now than ever.

“During the pandemic, we are seeing a lot of children who are at their computers and are sitting, and they’re not getting that physical input that they need, which hinders how children can learn within the school setting,” Millard said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everyone’s “normal,” but professionals say getting back into a routine as soon as possible is especially important for children with special needs.

“The biggest thing we saw during the pandemic was kids getting dropped off for our programs and having difficulty getting back into their routines that they need to do in order to thrive during the day,” Millard said.

She adds that for some of these kids, the consequences of the pandemic will be long-lasting, and that it could be years before they can get back the skills they had before.

“Now we have to work on social distancing and working on wearing masks, so we really had to re-learn a lot of different skills, and then learn new skills on top of that,” Millard said.


Ballston Spa Sensory-Friendly Gym Seeks Help, Still Unable to Reopen

Eva Millard is accustomed to helping others. The licensed occupational therapist opened a kid’s sensory-friendly gym nearly three years ago for all children and their families, including those with autism and special needs.

“The big thing that I always heard from families was that there wasn’t enough places,” Millard said. “There weren’t any places they can all go as a family.”

So Millard opened the We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym in Ballston Spa to change that. She says it’s a place where they can feel safe and comfortable with sensory-friendly equipment.

But like most places, the sensory-friendly gym closed in March when the pandemic started, and since it’s a gym, it has not received the green light to reopen.

“We’re all trying to get around this pandemic and try to figure out how we all fit in, and how we can feel comfortable,” Millard said.

With four months of bills piling up and little to no income, Millard says keeping the doors open is becoming a challenge. So now she’s asking for help, starting a GoFundMe with a goal of raising $40,000.

“Asking for help is really, really challenging but I’ve had so many wonderful families who basically forced me to like, ‘this is what you need and we need you,’ ” Millard said.

So far, it has raised more than $5,000. Millard says the support has been overwhelming.

She says she has plans in place to safely reopen with sanitizing, proper spacing, and masks. September marks the gym’s three-year anniversary and Millard hopes doors will be open by then.

“We can provide that clean and safe and disinfected facility for individuals, so hopefully we can kind of provide that and show that,” Millard said.



We Rock the Spectrum opened in September. It is quickly becoming a favorite place to play for children on the autism spectrum and kids who aren’t. Franchise owner Eva Millard is a former school occupational therapist.

“I am not a business person by any means. I am an occupational therapist that loves working with children and wants to improve their daily life and for them to have fun,” said Millard.

There are 10 pieces of equipment, all designed to help with strength, movement and sensory processing.

“The equipment is also perfect for children of all abilities, children of all ages,” said Millard.

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New businesses give children with autism safe places to play – Albany Business Review

Eva Millard, owner of We Rock the Spectrum, has also been impressed by the turnout since she opened the doors in September at 1490 Saratoga Road (Route 50) in Ballston Spa.

Millard, 36, is an occupational therapist who has worked with children who have developmental disabilities.

“Parents kept saying they needed a place to bring their kids outside of school where they could feel welcome and be kids and have a place to learn and grow,” Millard said.

Parents pay $12 per child and $10 for siblings for up to two hours, with discounts for additional children. Parents can also drop off children for up to three hours for $12 per hour.

She declined to say how much it cost to open the 2,500-square-foot franchise, but said the investment was backed by Adirondack Trust Co.

“It’s been an amazing experience meeting the families and playing with the children,” Millard said.

Sheri Townsend opened Spotted Zebra Learning Center in 2005 to serve pre-school children with special needs, and has expanded since then into a 14,000-square-foot facility at 26 Computer Drive East.

Three years ago she opened a 3,000-square-foot indoor sensory playground in the building called Bizzy Beez Activity Center that hosts birthday parties and sensory-friendly theater groups.

(Read More)

Gym welcomes kids of every neurological status – Albany Times Union

Ballston Spa

There’s a new gym for children in Ballston Spa unlike any other in the Capital Region.

Called We Rock the Spectrum, the gym is stocked with special equipment designed to suit the needs of children with sensory processing disorders, a condition where the brain and nervous system have trouble processing or integrating stimuli. A diagnosis of autism often comes with a diagnosis of sensory processing disorder.

We Rock the Spectrum is a franchise founded in California in 2010 by a mom who had trouble finding the right fit for her son with autism.

Often, Dina Kimmel would take her son, Gabriel, to play somewhere, only to have him become overstimulated by the environment and have a meltdown. Kimmel found herself apologizing far too often to other parents for her son’s behavior.

“Finally a place where I never have to say, ‘I’m sorry,’ ” became Kimmel’s motto as she founded We Rock the Spectrum. The idea spread, and 60 franchises have opened in 22 states since Kimmel launched the venture in 2013.

Eva Millard, who owns We Rock the Spectrum in Ballston Spa, doesn’t have a child with a sensory disorder. Her 5-year-old daughter, Emilia, is neurotypical. But as an occupational therapist in a local school for children with autism, Millard often met with parents who couldn’t find anywhere to bring their children to play.

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We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym – Healthy Saratoga

There’s a new gym in town and it is… JUST FOR KIDS!

Adorned in primary colors, this clean safe activity space focuses on inclusion and active play for ALL children. We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym, located at 1490 Saratoga Road in Ballston Spa, is making sure that all children with and without disabilities are learning to play together in a fun, nurturing, and safe way. Their mantra “Finally a place where you don’t have to say I’m Sorry” resonates with parents of differently abled children and adorns the back wall of the new gym in a prominent way.

Owner and entrepreneur, Eva Millard, identified the need in our community while employed as an Occupational Therapist working with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum. “I saw the need for a place that was inclusive for both children with Autism Spectrum and neuro-typically developing children.” Eva utilizes that knowledge and experience, to encourage active play for all children, her gentle and kind persona immediately puts you at ease when she interacts and plays with your child. As a single mother to 4-year-old Emilia, Eva counts her blessings each and every day and is so thankful for the opportunity to bring this amazing gym to the Capital District.

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My Brother Rocks The Spectrum Foundation

My Brother Rocks The Spectrum Foundation is our 501(c)3 (tax id #46-4393642) non-profit organization that helps families receive the funding they need to participate in our social skills/activity groups, classes, camps and more. This allows children to be able to use the specialized sensory swings and activities WRTS offers. We offer these groups to children and young adults from 2 to 18yrs of age.

Our mission is to provide all children with any ability or disability a place they can build friendships, keep active and learn to use their energy in their bodies in a productive environment. WRTS uses its equipment and activities to integrate children in this environment also through their Open Play and Break Time programs. We also receive funding from other state programs like the Regional Center, that provide one to one attendant care and other specialized services required to ensure all children can find the benefits of healthy play.

All funds donated to MBRTS are distributed to all of the WRTS locations Nationwide to complete our mission of giving families a community and,  “finally a place where you never have to say I’m sorry.”

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How Siblings of Children with Autism are Affected

How Siblings of Children with Autism are Affected

As parents of children with Autism, we understand they require specialized care and attention. Depending upon which part of the spectrum a child falls under, the extent of the support will vary from helping them accomplish daily tasks to needing assisted care on a continual basis. Regardless of the extent of the therapy solutions, parents try anything and everything to give their children the support they need to reach their full potential.

But what about the siblings of the children with autism?

Just like how parents’ lives change when they discover their child has autism, their other children are also affected but in a much different way. Siblings have to stand by and watch, feeling helpless as their beloved brother or sister is affected by a disorder they will not fully understand until later in life. This has the potential to cause anxiety and difficulty in expressing emotions, which can lead to the siblings lashing out at their parents or brother and sister.

Parents who have children that fall into these categories are often at a loss as to how they should address the problems their children are facing. On one hand, they know their child with autism needs the added attention and Occupational, Behavioral, or Speech therapy required. On the other hand, their neurotypical children are feeling neglected and possibly left out – which is also tough on the parents.

While the sibling who has autism is receiving the care and attention they need from therapy, the neurotypical siblings finds themselves watching, almost in the shadows, while the other child receives a large part of the attention. Even though many siblings of children with autism try to understand the need their brother or sister has for the added attention, feelings of jealousy, depression, anger and resentment often arise.

This was the case in my family prior to the creation of We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym. My son Gabriel, who has autism, was receiving therapy from professionals as well as utilizing a sensory gym I had set up in my own home. Prior to the in-home gym, Gabriel would receive the lion’s share of attention while my daughter Sophia often stood by and missed out on some of her own activities. Even though Sophia tried hard to understand, she stated on more than one occasion, “I wish I had autism.” This broke my heart as I immediately knew this was her way of letting me know she felt left out and alone.

I want both of my children to feel that they are perfect the way they are, which inspired me to create an in-home gym full of fun, sensory equipment for Gabriel to improve his own skills but to also give Sophia a place where she can play with her brother and friends. It wasn’t quite everything Sophia needed, but it was a step in the right direction and drove me to create and found a gym that changed my family’s lives for the better, We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym.
We Rock the Spectrum not only allows children to play together, but offers a place where play dates can be arranged for a group. We did this early on with Sophia and Gabriel. He would get his necessary therapy in the gym, and she would be able to feel like a kid again and play with her friends.

Because the gym is monitored, safe, and regulated by the dynamic staff, children can make their own play dates with their own friends from school, camp, or other social groups and meet to play and have a great time. With the option to set up play dates for your children and their friends, parents no longer have to worry about telling their typically developing children they cannot have a play date because of a therapy need of their sibling with autism.

By having the ability to play together at We Rock the Spectrum, families with children who fall into both categories now have the ability to say “yes” much more often than ever before, allowing all children to play, have fun, and feel important. Benefiting the entire family, We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym helps to create a more positive dynamic at home and allows children who are typically developing to feel they are receiving similar attention as their sibling with autism.

My Brother Rocks the Spectrum

My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation’s mission is to assist families who need additional financial assistance for the therapy and care of their children with special needs to receive the support they deserve.

My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation was created in honor of Sophia, my daughter who rocks every single day. Sophia has watched as her brother Gabriel has grown and developed from the time he was diagnosed with autism to how capable he is today. Not only have Sophia and Gabriel been the inspiration for my creation of We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym, but Sophia has become a young therapist in her own right. It wasn’t always easy, but her curiosity to learn, determination to assist her brother, and desire to help others has led her to have a positive influence on many of the children at We Rock the Spectrum. Over and over again, we see children who are typically developing assisting their friends and siblings who have special needs, a dynamic that is allowed to foster and grow in our gyms by having an inclusive philosophy and gyms full of amazing parents and staff. Here is what Sophia had to say: “I feel great because I can help my brother and I can help other kids, even kids with Down Syndrome. I am not a Junior Helper any more, I am now a Coach.”

The foundation helps to fund a variety of activities at the gym for families who qualify and need the assistance, including monthly memberships and equipment. The foundation also helps families finance the personal aide some children with special needs require in order to attend a camp or activities at the gym. As the cost for a full-time or part-time aide for a child can become extremely expensive, the foundation is able to help defer some of these costs in order to allow all children to experience the benefits found at the gym through camps and play time.

Through both the We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym and My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation, all children, whether suffering developmental disabilities or not, are able to take full advantage of the fantastic, specially designed equipment, open play area, arts and crafts section and come away with a feeling of peace, happiness and accomplishment!

7 Ways We Rock the Spectrum Helps Children with ADHD

We created the We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym (WRTS) franchise with a unique purpose: to provide children with autism and other special needs an inclusive play environment they could enjoy with their peers. At WRTS, children are able to take advantage of sensory play equipment in order to grow and develop the skills they will need later in life. Our inclusive philosophy allows children of all ability levels to play and grow together.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the many conditions where WRTS can help children overcome challenges. Children with ADHD have trouble focusing and often times act without thinking. ADHD symptoms can range widely. These include:

  • Difficulty paying attention to details and tendency to make careless mistakes in school or other activities which produces work that is often messy and careless
  • Easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli, frequently interrupting ongoing tasks to attend to trivial noises or events that are usually ignored by others
  • Inability to sustain attention on tasks or activities
  • Difficulty finishing schoolwork or paperwork or performing tasks that require concentration
  • Frequent shifts from one uncompleted activity to another
  • Forgetfulness in daily activities (for example, missing appointments, forgetting to bring lunch)
  • Failure to complete tasks such as homework or chores
  • Frequent shifts in conversation, not listening to others, not keeping one’s mind on conversations, and not following details or rules of activities in social situations

“Children with ADHD have a hard time self-stimulating,” says Jess Lofland, owner of We Rock the Spectrum ~ Woodland Hills. “This is why the activities inside We Rock the Spectrum are so beneficial to children with ADHD. The safe, stimulating environment gives them what they cannot give themselves – a real focus. The end result is a feeling of capability that will lead to a healthier development.”

We Rock the Spectrum helps children with ADHD in a variety of ways. We’ve listed seven of these below, with an added bonus because we love you ;-)

1. Body Regulation Assistance
WRTS assists children with ADHD by helping them with body regulation assistance from the sensory equipment. The sensory equipment at WRTS is specially designed to aid children in their development. Children with all types of issues are able to positively react and grow from the use of this sensory equipment.

2. Break from School
Having a release from work after school gives these children the release their bodies need in order to focus and regulate themselves. Before starting their homework, a trip to the gym helps children with ADHD better focus later on. With the after school programs held at WRTS, children can come to the gym and enjoy some play time before diving back into their studies.

3. Compliments Occupational Therapy
Our sensory equipment is meant to compliment Occupational Therapy, not replace it. The sensory equipment offers challenges that can be left out from other therapy and helps stimulate a child’s brain and assists them in overcoming ADHD, giving parents an option that can be more beneficial in the long run than medication. The equipment offers a highly stimulating environment where focus is required. This causes the child with ADHD to narrow their focus and work to figure out various pieces of equipment on their own.

4. Social Skills Enhancement
The fourth way WRTS helps children with ADHD is to assist them with their social skills. Many times we see children with ADHD have trouble making friends or keeping them. With our inclusive approach and a dynamic staff that carries out our philosophy inside every gym, children are able to learn appropriate behaviors that can aid them in making friends while at the gym. These behaviors frequently extend to the school environment, where an increase in friends is also common.

5. Provides a Community for Children and Parents
WRTS is a community for all kids. Our inclusive approach helps children make friends with their peers and our gym becomes a place where friends can congregate together. The same is true with parents. Parents with children diagnosed with ADHD can often feel aligned or left out (which is the case with many parents whose children have been diagnosed with a disorder) and the team and parents of WRTS make up a fantastic support network of like-minded adults who have the goal of assisting their children.

6. The Comfort of “Fidget Toys”
Many children with ADHD, regardless of the severity, can benefit from having a comfort toy they can hold and maneuver in their hands while at school or at home. This helps them remain calm and focused while feeling secure and allows the skills they learn at WRTS to translate to the school environment. We supply an assortment of these toys in each We Rock the Spectrum for this very reason. The use of “fidget toys” offers the necessary distraction for the body while their minds hone in on what is being asked and instructed.

7. A Focused Approach to Creativity
The Arts and Crafts area of WRTS allows children to have a creative outlet and the ability to decompress while staying focused on the item they are creating. Allowing their hands to work and create while their mind does the guiding aids children with ADHD in their ability to focus, along with giving them a unique and new activity to participate in.

BONUS: The Guidance of the WRTS Staff
When the staff notices a child spending a great deal of time on only one activity they work to persuade them to try other things, which helps their minds continually adapt and experience stimulation from this change in activities. Our staff is always monitoring the activities going on inside the gym and will work with children that need the extra attention to grow. This helps children to be allowed to experience a variety of social interactions and which helps to meet the needs of the children with ADHD.

In conclusion, when children are provided with the stimulation from We Rock the Spectrum that they cannot get themselves, they begin to grow. This positive experience makes them feel able and capable in ways they might not feel in other social situations. A confidence is developed as a routine of success is established, and there is a real improvement in a child’s self-esteem.

Do you have a child with ADHD? What other benefits have you seen We Rock the Spectrum provide?  We’d love to hear from you.  Give us a call at 818-996-6620 or email us at

We Rock the Spectrum is for All Parents!

The team at We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym offers a long list of activities for special needs children to participate in and enjoy with their typically developing peers. This allows parents of special needs children to have a place to take all their children and know they won’t be separated, but instead offered the opportunity to play, grow and develop together. The We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym has a ton of equipment and activities to do with special needs children including sensory-based gym equipment and strength improving equipment as well.

As a result of playing and participating in activities for special needs children offered by We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym, children will be able to improve their attention span, on task behavior, coordination, poster, motor planning, muscle tone, and motor development. This all takes place while the kids are playing and being fully active inside the gym. With a whole list and range of great play equipment to give the staff and parents plenty of activities to do with special needs children and children that are typically developing.

Some of the biggest differences between traditional indoor play gyms and the gym at We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym are the unique style of equipment to use. Most indoor play gyms don’t have the right equipment in place for special needs children. The We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym offers the first gym of its type for children to take advantage of regardless of skill or development level.

The specialized equipment, sensory based toys, arts and crafts area and programs that are set up for kids of all ability levels are designed and perfected to help all children grow and develop, especially children who have special needs. Take a look at what is offered at We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym and find out how they can help your children grow, develop and most of all have fun.