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Edwardsville once again has an inclusive gym for children with all abilities

EDWARDSVILLE — With new owners Joey Murphy and Eric Spangler, We Rock the Spectrum Edwardsville is hoping to bring the inclusive gym back to the community as it was before.

The gym, which closed in February, was previously owned by the Range family for the past three and a half years. “It has been such a joy for me to get to know you, watch your children grow and welcome new little ones to your family. I will treasure the memories and friendships that have been made,” the family stated via their Facebook page while announcing the closing.

Murphy spent four years teaching special education at White Side Elementary school in Belleville after graduating from SIUE in 2017. When the gym closed, she saw it as an opportunity to buy into the community and support parents who don’t always have a place to take their children.

“For parents, and really everyone in the community, I think it’s important to have a space where you don’t have to say sorry,” Murphy said. “I think especially for kiddos who have specials needs, it’s hard for parents to take them to some places and feel like they aren’t going to be judged and will have to say sorry.”

The gym features multiple areas which help support each child with their different needs and engagement levels. There is an infant and toddler area, a variety of swings, a calming room, a zip line, a trampoline, monkey bars and arts and crafts.

“We have our calming room for kiddos who may get a little overstimulated. It’s a little darker and has a sound machine,” Murphy said. “Other playgrounds and gyms can often be overstimulating with all the noise, bright colors and all the overwhelming things featured in typical playgrounds.”

Murphy said the playground is open to all ages and all abilities, and their typical crowd is between the ages two and 14. Although parents can bring their kids into the gym, she said therapists bring their patients in often too, as an alternative to other office settings.

“I see a bunch of therapists really like our gym because it’s a great space to provide therapy through play,” she said. “A lot of our equipment you will see is occupational therapy equipment, like the swings, trampoline and the zipline. All of those are going to engage your senses.”

As a franchise business, there are multiple locations across the U.S. and even the world. CEO and founder of the business Dina Kimmel opened the first location in California after facing the issue of not having a safe space to take her son with autism.

“She has a lot of this equipment in her basement and she decided one day that she was going to provide a space for kids like [her] son who don’t have somewhere to go,” Murphy said.

Since the Edwardsville location reopening on June 6, the gym has begun to bring back some of the events they had before the closure. One of the hits right now is the parents’ night out from 6 to 9 p.m on the second weekend of every month.

“I have plenty of events I have scheduled for the future, which I post them all on our Instagram and Facebook pages,” Murphy said. “You get to drop your kids off, have a parents’ night out and we usually do a theme with a bunch of activities.”

She also has planned some character nights, a summer camp and other special events for the future.

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Studios merge to support businesses, mothers during May

EDWARDSVILLE – While local restaurants are a vital part of the business community, other area businesses want residents to know they are struggling as well and have not been able to conduct any business since March 20, when the governor’s stay-at-home order went into effect.

Jennifer Range owns We Rock the Spectrum, an autism-focused kids’ sensory indoor playground and gym in town. She said photographer Heather Mohr approached her on April 30 about a May promotion. Mohr and another photographer, Nichole Kolb, merged their photography studios to form Willow and Mohr Photography.

Kolb currently runs her studio, Willow & Moss, out of a small space at 103 East Vandalia Street, across from the Stagger Inn. She and Danielle Thomas were photography partners for a little more than three years before life changes happened and Thomas chose to separate from the business.

“Danielle left Willow & Moss at the end of 2019 on good terms,” Kolb said. “Her career led her in another direction.”

The boutique full-service photography studio offers a personalized experience and customized products for our clients. In addition, the studio provides a variety of beautiful wardrobe options for our clients. All maternity, newborn and baby sessions include the use of our hand-selected maternity gowns, newborn outfits, bonnets, props and accessories.

She cited the city’s growth patterns, even during a pandemic, as a positive in steering her relocation decision.

“I knew I wanted to grow but I didn’t know how I wanted to go about it,” Kolb said. She said she has definitely outgrown her current space and it has other limitations, such as parking.

“I fell in love with Trace on the Parkway and we found a space just before the pandemic hit,” she said. While the relocation effort is not at a standstill, it, like most everything else in the past two months, has been delayed.

She said laborers are still working at the new location, but she hopes she and Mohr can open in early July. The new space, located at 6120 Shoger Drive, Suite D, is more than double the size of her current studio and she said parking is not an issue at Trace on the Parkway.

They announced the merger, Willow & Mohr Photography, Monday on Facebook. The women formed a strategic partnership that will enable them to better serve the Edwardsville and greater St. Louis region. Willow & Mohr Photography specializes in maternity, birth, newborn, baby, children and family photography. The goal of the new studio is to capture personalities, relationships and connections between people.

“Many times, photography is considered just a hobby,” Kolb said. “We are striving to be a local business specializing in newborn photography but we also want to branch out to serve other needs.”

According to its Facebook feed – “Time travel may be impossible, but photography grants the ability to freeze moments in time to remind us of details that have started to fade from memory. Whether it is pregnancy, the birth of a baby or a typical year in the life of a family, life is worth capturing through photos.”

“Heather and Nichole would like to promote some of the amazing small businesses in Edwardsville by having a giveaway for moms,” Range said. Mothers are typically the rock or the anchor in many families and many women are pulling double- triple- or more duties during the pandemic – wife, mother, employee, teacher, disciplinarian, etc.

The pair is sponsoring weekly giveaways for the month, with the goal of being able to spoil some special moms this year. Winners are announced on social media every Friday.

Company sponsors include:

• Trends’ter Boutique
• Teaspoons Cafe
• Vive Yoga Studio
• Goshen Coffee Company
• Restore Decor
• EXO Nail Bar
• A WildFlower Shop
• Doc’s Smokehouse and Catering
• We Rock the Spectrum – Edwardsville
• Water Sweets Soap Company
• SS Market

Kolb and Mohr will post information, photos and stories daily on the Willow & Mohr Facebook page to show the vendors and gifts offered that are worth more than $2,600. This week, there are two winners chosen from those who are nominated for the giveaway.

The first winner will receive a $20 gift card to Teaspoons Cafe and Willow and a Mohr Photography Motherhood session with hair and makeup as well as a $600 print credit ($900 value). The second winner will receive Trend’ster Boutique earrings ($48 value) as well as a We Rock the Spectrum a dozen cookies ($25 value).

To enter this giveaway, go to Willow and Mohr Photography Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/willowandmohrphotgraphy or Instagram pages, https://www.instagram.com/willowandmohrphotography/ and follow the instructions on the original post.

For more details, visit Willow & Moss’ website, www.willowandmossphotography.com.

Reach reporter Charles Bolinger at (618) 659-5735

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We Rock the Spectrum Edwardsville COVID-19 Donations

Businesses and organizations in the St. Louis region step up to help families during COVID-19 – KSDK

ST. LOUIS — With all of these schools closing, organizations and businesses are coming up with ways to help families during this time.

Jennifer Range is the owner of We Rock The Spectrum in Edwardsville.

“Our mission is to always reach out to those families that most need us,” she said.

The franchise company is a fully inclusive sensory gym and they’re planning to have a free break time/drop-off service for doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals working tirelessly on the front line of COVID-19.

“Go sleep or run errands and with schools out, there isn’t much of a break for parents, not only working 12-hour shifts, but helping those kids with school,” Range says.

Range’s son has autism and she knew a place like this was needed. But now, more than ever, she knows the need of her play place.

She said the Fenton, Edwardsville, and St. Ann locations are doing this.

“All this play helps definitely with maintaining the calm. We want to be that calm in the midst of the storm.” Range says passionately.

Before you come in, you do need to call ahead. She has to follow CDC regulations and only have about 10 to 12 children there.

Erin Kelley, the Executive Director of Step Up STL also wants to lift up the stress.

“With kids home or parents that are financially vulnerable and have their hours cut, we want to make sure we’re able to meet those needs,” Kelley told 5 On Your Side.

That’s why she’s working with school districts in the St. Louis region.

“We’re activating parent groups and hosting drives and we will put together kits with whatever the needs are. We need personal care items, household cleaning items, food,” Kelley says.

In 24 hours, they’ve collected $2,300 and received all these donations.

We Rock the Spectrum Edwardsville COVID-19 Donations

It just shows, when times get hard, there are people who remind us, our community will work harder.

“St. Louis is enormously generous,” she said. “People come out of the woodwork and do anything, especially for our kids.”

Next weekend, Step Up STL said it will be packing kits and distributing them to families. Depending on how the school wants to handle it, they’ll drop it off at home or give them to counselors for the handoff.

If you’d like to donate, you can call Kelley at 314-471-3444 or head over to their Facebook page. Step Up said you can drop off donations at Mungenast St. Louis Honda.

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Edwardsville library preps for kickoff of Summer Reading Program

EDWARDSVILLE — The staff at the Edwardsville Public Library will celebrate the start of its Summer Reading Program, “It’s Showtime at Your Library” with its annual kickoff party on Wednesday.

The celebration takes place from 1 to 3 p.m. in Edwardsville’s City Park, directly outside the library.

“As usual, there will be a lot to do and fun to be had,” Edwardsville Public Library Youth Services coordinator Kristen Reno.

She said the Edwardsville Library Friends (ELFs), who sponsor events and prizes offered during the summer, will also hold a Children’s Book Sale.

“We will be visited by the Ice Sister Princesses of Brittain’s Princess Parties, and they are excited to meet and take photos with the kids in attendance,” Reno added.

Community neighbors such as Watershed Nature Center, Edwardsville Children’s Museum, YMCA, and We Rock the Spectrum, will bring games and activities for families to try.

“The Bubble Bus is joining us again this year to entertain with music and bubbles of all shapes and sizes. Chef Shoppe will be donating popcorn for snacking, and everyone who attends the party will get a free ice cream treat from the Cool Times ice cream truck, thanks again to the ELFs,” Reno said.

Visitors can stop by the library’s information table at the party to learn more about registering for the Summer Reading Challenge which will be offered online this year through Beanstack. From Beanstack, registrants can log all of their reading, earn badges, and keep track of all of their summer activities.

The library also offers a reading challenge for adults.

“It’s a fun way to work books into your summer activities and earn the chance to win great prizes,” she said.

The Edwardsville Library’s Summer Reading Program officially begins May 28 and ends July 31. For more information, visit the library or check out its website at www.edwardsvillelibrary.org.

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Intergenerational music classes will be available in Edwardsville – RiverBender.com

EDWARDSVILLE/COLLINSVILLE – St. John’s Community Care and We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym is partnering to host Intergenerational music classes. Intergenerational Music is the bringing together of children and the elderly for an enjoyable session of fun and music resulting in bridging the ages.

St. John’s Community Care is a faith-based organization offering help to people challenged by aging and disabilities by offering aging and dementia care support services and resources in the river bend community since 1985.

We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gyms has been in Edwardsville a little over a year and was founded to provide a place for children of all ability levels to play and grow together. Franchise owner, Jennifer Range said the thought of offering Intergenerational Music Classes came to her when she saw a senior gentleman getting off a van in front of St. John’s Community Care’s Edwardsville Day Program facility, which is next store to Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym. She said he looked so sad, which started her thinking of ways to brighten his day. She’d heard of music therapy classes for the elderly and specifically remembered seeing something about Intergenerational Music on Facebook.

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Cardinals raise awareness about autism at Saturday game – KSDK 5

Saturday was a great day for spreading Autism Awareness.

It was Autism Awareness Day at Busch Stadium.

Scott Range, 24, got to throw the first pitch. He has Autism. He was also his mother’s inspiration for opening ‘We Rock the Spectrum’ in Edwardsville. Scott’s family watched him throw the first pitch on the field today.

Scott’s mother, Jennifer Range, was moved by the event.

Autism Speaks’ Kansas City-St. Louis executive director, Megan Hoffman, told 5 On Your Side that she, too, was moved by the Autism Awareness Day at Busch Stadium.

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This indoor playground aims to help kids on the autism spectrum – BND Magazine

Inspired by her 23-year-old son who has autism, Jennifer Range recently opened We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym in Edwardsville, and word — and smiles — are spreading.

“There are not a lot of services available to adults with special needs, so we were looking for a business that we could have that I could run the business, and (my son) Scott could come to work with me so that we could take care of him,” said Range, who lives in Highland with her husband Mike.

After hearing about the indoor playground franchise on Facebook, Range, 49, said she was intrigued and had to see one for herself.

“We went to visit the one in Fenton, Missouri, and I just knew we needed to bring it to this side of the river,” Range said.

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“We Rock the Spectrum” gym for children with autism opens in Metro East – KMOV 4

A new resource for children with autism just opened its doors in the Metro East.

“We Rock the Spectrum” gym held their grand opening in Edwardsville Saturday afternoon.

The indoor play center’s located on Century Drive right off Route 157 in Illinois.

The facility features all sorts of special equipment that aids autistic children with their developmental growth.

The owners said the idea is also meant to make everyone feel included.

“All kids can play together and that’s the way a lot of kids learn their best is when they’re playing next to a peer,” said owner Jennifer Range.

The special needs indoor play center is the first of its kind in Illinois but the second in the St. Louis area. The first facility opened in Fenton last year.

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Gym targets kids with special needs – The Intelligencer

We Rock the Spectrum, a new children’s gym that serves kids with autism and special needs, will be holding a grand opening celebration from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 24.

The event is open to the public, and families with children from all walks of life are invited to attend.  Admission is $12 per child, and 20 percent of the proceeds will go to the My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation.

Jennifer Range, the owner of the new We Rock the Spectrum, located at 1015 Century Drive in Edwardsville, has been a special education teacher for the past 12 years at Edwardsville High School.  Together with her husband, Mike, they have four children – James, Scott, Joseph, and Brigid.

Their second child Scott, who is now 23, was first diagnosed with autism just before his third birthday.  He had been attending a program in Mascoutah three days a week which Jennifer pointed out is a program parents pay for in Illinois.  “In Illinois there’s not a lot of opportunities for adults with disabilities,” Jennifer said.

Since there’s also not a lot of funding in Illinois for parents of children who have disabilities, Jennifer was always seeking options and opportunities for Scott.  That’s when We Rock the Spectrum entered the picture.

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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.”

Visit our website!

1015 Century Dr, Edwardsville, IL 62025
618-307-5834

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