WELLESLEY, MA — Two sisters are running one of Wellesley’s only black-owned businesses, and also creating a safe and all-inclusive play place for children of all abilities. What could be cooler?
Owners and sisters Melissa Defay and Sherley Brice opened the “We Rock the Spectrum – Wellesley” gym at 34 Central St., in Wellesley on Oct. 9, unsure of what they were expecting, but so far have seen nothing but care and support.
The sensory safe gym is inclusive for children ages 0-12 of all mental and physical abilities. Included in the play area are a zip line, trampoline, and landing pit which allow children to engage with others while exercising and learning.
The sisters could not be more excited about the new fully functioning gym. Inspired by her youngest son, who is on the spectrum, Defay says she was fed up with how a parent at a local gym treated him, saying a parent of another child got physical with the boy.
She says poor treatment and lack of understanding left her completely traumatized and wanting to create a space where her son could feel welcomed and free to enjoy himself.
Defay says it was hard to find a space where both of her sons, one of who is neurotypical, could play and feel included. When she came across “We Rock The Spectrum,” she says she ran to her sister and family saying, “We need to open this here!”
The former Kidville spot is far more inclusive to all while still catering to children on the spectrum. “By allowing children on the spectrum to play and interact with neurotypical children, peer modeling can be established, allowing children to learn from each other,” said Defay.
“We Rock the Spectrum – Wellesley” is representing diversity in all realms – a Black-owned business operated by sisters who cater to a not-all neurotypical community.
The recreation center is not a clinical-insurance-based center, meaning it is open to everyone insured or not. Starting at $25 for open play, the sisters offer discounts for siblings and monthly rates for children who frequent the space.
Beginning Nov. 3, “We Rock the Spectrum – Wellesley” will host birthday parties and classes through Dec. 15. Some of the classes include ABC dance, music therapy, and Zumbini (caretaker and me classes from ages 0-4).
There is even a calming room for children who get too overstimulated and need to relax for a little.
Open play is from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. The sisters say to call or check social media for weekend hours, as they tend to vary.
Due to high demand, the sisters are looking for volunteers who may want to intern or just help out with some of the kids while staffing is on the difficult side.
“We are looking for volunteers – if anyone is willing to come in and help internships or need hours, we would greatly appreciate the extra hands,” said Brice.
The sisters say they are looking for high-school-aged students and above who may want to help color, read or just interact with some of the students who are eager to play.
Any interested parties should contact the sisters at email@example.com.