* This post is written by a guest blogger - it is not sponsored. *
There are over 1.1 million disabled children and young people in the UK. Yet 84% of them cannot access regular leisure facilities, preventing them from playing, exercising and socialising in the same ways as their peers. Not only does this affect them, but their whole family becomes isolated, with 72% of them suffering from mental health issues as a result.
Gympanzees is an award-winning charity founded in 2018 by Pediatric Physiotherapist Stephanie Wheen. Created to provide physical and social opportunities for children and young people with disabilities and their families, in a welcoming environment, alongside dedicated amenities and professional staff.
We believe that everyone has the right to access these experiences. So it’s a pleasure to help families reduce the feeling of isolation, whilst improving their health and well-being.
To build the UK’s first, fully inclusive leisure facility that caters for the play, exercise and social needs of children and young people between the ages of 0 and 25, regardless of their disability. Click HERE to see our vision for the permanent facility.
We normally support families through pop up facilities in Bristol; providing access to specialised gyms, soft play, active and calm sensory rooms, music rooms, trampolines, therapy suites and social cafes.
Our team of disability professionals encourage exercise using specialist equipment. Along with controlling the numbers of attendees, to cater for different sensitivities. We also have hoists in each room, varied play/exercise options, and changing beds for toileting. Allowing children and young people to improve their health while having fun.
Whilst we procure the land for our permanent facility, we have been supporting families in other ways following the cancellation of our 2020 pop up events. However, based on feedback from our families regarding the lack of therapy and support throughout the pandemic, we created ‘Our Home’ - a completely FREE resource made up of the following services:
Specialist Lending Library
Families in Bristol and the surrounding areas can borrow our incredible equipment and experience a little bit of Gympanzees in their home.
A library of webinars from trained professional therapists, discussing a variety of disabilities related topic to help make homeschooling and day-to-day life a little bit easier.
Online Resource Hub
Over 60 pages of activities, ideas and exercise with therapeutic benefits that families can implement at home with little time, effort and resources to have some fun.
4,000 children and their families have relied upon our pop up facilities across the 58 days that they have been open. Our remote support has received over 200,000 impressions through social media, over 7,500 views on our Online Resource Hub, and over 200 families regularly using our Lending Library with some amazing feedback.
Collectively these services could greatly benefit children, young people and their families within the AYL community, so please get in touch via the links below!
To support our day-to-day running and help us to achieve our goals, you can donate HERE.
If you are struggling to find time and motivation to exercise, why not sign up to our 3 Peaks Challenge for a tangible goal whilst also fundraising for a great cause? Find out more HERE.
"The climbing bridge was incredible and really helped us engage with our son. He found so many different ways to use it and was excited by it every day. We had it over the Christmas period when nurseries were closed and we couldn't see family, so it really saved our Christmas. It helped encourage him away from the tv and want us to play with him. Our son doesn't speak but he was trying to use nonverbal communication to show us how he wanted to play with it, which is great progress for him. Thank you!”
"I'm so glad I did the zoom session! It was a real lifeline at a challenging time. It helped me to understand my son's frustration and consider ways I could help provide the stimulation he was craving. The zoom call was inspiring and I learnt so much about a topic I didn't know much about prior, so I was amazed at how applicable it was to my son. It was such a positive experience and I am very thankful for the work Gympanzees do and the difference it has made on our lives."