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7's Hero: Treasure Valley mom opens a gym for kids with special needs and their families

The Sensory Playce in Boise is filled with special equipment usually found in physical, speech and occupational therapy rooms.

BOISE, Idaho — A Treasure Valley mom decided to start a gym for kids with special needs. The Sensory Playce has been open for close to a year in Boise, and families are truly enjoying what it has to offer.

“The Sensory Playce is a gym specifically designed to meet the needs of special needs children,” Jen Johnson, founder of The Sensory Playce, said. “We welcome all children of all abilities.”

Johnson was inspired to open the gym by her own sons. She has ten-year-old twin boys, both with disabilities. She says the gym is filled with the special equipment usually found in physical, speech and occupational therapy rooms.

“I was spending thousands of dollars out of pocket for non-covered services, and so this is really a place I could supplement that,” Johnson explained.

“We have a trampoline, 13 specialized swings, a zipline, we've got bumpy slides, we have a squish machine, exercise balls, a quiet room, puzzles, fine motor, and gross motor activities, we also have a classroom area that people can use if they are homeschooling,” she said. “I try to make this an affordable option.”

For Johnson, this is more than just a gym. It's a place where she can support parents like herself.

“Our members all become part of our family. I work to share resources that I know about, I do a weekly Facebook LIVE from a parents' perspective on navigating disability services, topics like where to get occupational therapy, what to do to get the most resources for your child,“ Johnson said. “Building that relationship with families, and making it more than just a play place.“

Johnson says The Sensory Playce is judgment-free. The staff and the families who are there understand some kids may have difficulties coping or processing.

“We have customers who tell us that their kids had a meltdown at a play place, and they were told not to come back,” Johnson said. “If that happens here, we wait for the child to recover and they go about their play.”

That means a lot to families with kids with special needs. Johnson is giving these families another place to feel at home.

For more information on The Sensory Playce, check it out on Facebook!

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