Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Southern Ocean County?

I’m originally from Middletown, NJ. I lived there for the first 30 years of my life before moving to Pine Hill, NJ for a few years. We moved to Barnegat 4 1/2 years ago, right after our son was born, and love the life we made for ourselves here.

Child(ren) and Age(s)?

We have one son, Nicholas, who is 4 1/2 years old. He is the absolute joy of our lives. He was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 and has been receiving therapies since he was 18 months old. He teaches me something new every single day and is the happiest boy. He makes me so proud every day.

One thing people would be surprised to know about you…

Hmm… good question. I’m pretty transparent. I guess I would say a lot of people might be surprised to know that prior to opening our gym, I had zero experience in running a business. I went from working in an Orthopaedic office, to being a stay at home mom, to running a kids gym. Quite the jump! My son’s autism diagnosis is what brought me to open the gym. As a Franchise, I had an opportunity to visit our sister gym in Mount Laurel when it opened and knew the need Ocean County had for something so amazing. We took the leap and here we are.

Anyone special you’d like to thank for helping you through parenthood?

First and foremost my husband, Jeff. He is an amazing father and Nicholas is his biggest fan. Parenting a child with special needs is not easy. Parenting in general is not easy, but he is so on top of Nicholas’s needs and wants. Just watching them spending daddy/son time makes my heart smile.

Of course my family…my mother, my sisters.. they are my right hand girls in Mommyhood. They have no idea just how much they have gotten me through the last 4 1/2 years. ALL my siblings and sis/bro-in-laws.

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law who are always there, at the drop of a hat, to help in any way possible.

My niece, Tina, who is also an autism mommy… she has offered me an understanding ear and has given me so much sound advice.. a mom who truly gets our world.
Friends who are always there to vent to.. that lending ear is huge!

The amazing therapists/teachers who have worked with my son.. they are tremendously huge in helping me navigate the world of an autism mom.

It definitely takes a village and they are all part of my village. I would never get through motherhood without every one of them.

Favorite things to do with your kids?

My absolute favorite is our bedtime routine. I lay in his bed with him and we sing Christmas Carols. Sounds crazy, right?.. Christmas in March, lol! My son has limited words but he can sing songs better than anyone I know. 🙂 He has his favorite classics and favorite Christmas songs and we sing them in bed at night. He usually drifts off to sleep when I sing Silent Night. It has become our nightly routine.
I also love just getting on the floor with him and stepping into his world during pretend play. He takes me on some wonderful adventures. He is so smart and has an amazing imagination.
Spending time doing his favorite things with him (swimming, dancing) is so much fun for both of us… the smile on his face and the joy in his heart is priceless!

Are you involved in a business venture, a local organization, a creative endeavor, or in the corporate world? Please share!

We are a local business called ‘We Rock The Spectrum Kids Gym For ALL Kids’ in Waretown, NJ. Our gym is part of an international franchise. Our Founder and CEO Dina Kimmel, an autism mommy herself, opened an indoor sensory play gym in Tarzana, CA after seeing how the sensory equipment she had in her home was helping her son Gabriel, who is on the spectrum. Once she opened her gym, she received calls and messages asking if gyms would be opening in other locations. It was then she realized just how needed something like this was in ALL communities and therefore decided to franchise. We are so thankful she made that decision… as are countless families whom these gyms have been a safe haven for.

Most all of our equipment in the gym is sensory equipment, geared toward kids who have autism, but fun for all. We have swings, a trampoline, a zip line and crash pad, climbing structures, a pretend play toddler area, an arts and crafts area, even a quiet room for our kids who may get overstimulated and need a little break. It’s a place for all kids to come together and play. Neurotypical, special needs….we are all one at We Rock! We are all about inclusion and acceptance. Our motto is “Finally A Place Where You Never Have To Say I’m Sorry.”
We host birthday parties, private play dates, class trips, classes, and much more! We are located at 299 Route 9, Waretown NJ. Our phone number is 609-622-8285.
We can be found online at www.werockthespectrumwaretown.com
You can find us on Facebook and Instagram at WRTSWaretown.

 

How has this community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now?

Our community has been hugely influential in getting us to where we are! We were out promoting the gym over a year prior to us even opening. We would have tables set up at local events talking about the gym and its unique features. We met so many families doing so. Some of the families we met at these events have followed us every step of the way on social media until our doors opened this past July. They are now frequent visitors and a huge part of our We Rock family.
Social media has been huge for us… posting on local pages, networking, mommy bloggers, meeting teachers and therapists… all who have had a hand in getting us to where we are today.
But its our customers who really got us here. They spread the word..they share videos and pictures of their kids at our facility smiling and having a great time. Their recommendations to their friends and family are why we still get new customers every single day. We are beyond thankful for all of them..they have definitely become part of our We Rock family!

 

What is your favorite restaurant in the area? Feel free to name a few!

One of our favorite places is Breakers Kitchen & Tap in Waretown. The owners are two of the kindest people who make us feel like family every time we’re there. It’s a super fun atmosphere…a great place for amazing food and drinks. We are a big sports family and it’s a great place to catch all the games! They are also very big in supporting our servicemen and women, which we love!

Another one is Shore Fire Grille. They have locations in Manahawkin and LBI. Some of the best food and best prices. They have something for everyone on their menu. I’m a picky eater and I’m always sure to find something I love there. The owners are great people who love serving the community.

 

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