‘We Rock The Spectrum’ is a brilliant new play and development space in Jumeirah that’s all about helping kids be active through movement that’s essential for their development
Dr. Nashila Farrah Jaffer is aChiropractic Physician, a mama of two and the founder of ‘We Rock The Spectrum‘, a relatively new play space in the Beach Park Plaza on Jumeirah Beach Road specifically developed to help child development (& a far cry from any other soft play area in Dubai). We chatted to her about why this space is about so much more than just fun!
Why did you decide to set up WRTS in Dubai?
I have been practicing as chiropractor for 17 years now and over the years I have seen more and more cases of children having developmental delays such as gross motor weakness, postural weakness and back pain at very young ages. I believe the reason for this is the sedentary lifestyle that we are all leading compared to 15 years ago when ipads and phones were not available. In the past, children led more active lifestyles because gadgets were not readily available like they are today, so kicking a football around or playing in the garden were the norm. Nowadays, children go to school from such an early age and have regular routines when really they should be actively learning and playing through movement. Movement is essential in the development of children’s neurological system. In fact 90% of stimulation to the brain comes from movement of the spine. So this lack of movement I feel has significantly affected the growth and development of children today.
Being a mother myself, I have seen how important it is for my children to do something active every single day and in Dubai it is not the easiest with the hot summer months. Thankfully the parks are fabulous and they are a fantastic way to keep children moving and active and encourage a healthy lifestyle in the winter months. So when I came across We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym whilst searching online, I thought this would be perfect in Dubai as an indoor playground for children to fulfil their sensory and motor development needs whilst having fun.
I call it “Play with a Purpose.”
What kind of services and classes do you offer?
We have Open Play whereby you can come with your child at any time of day, just like a regular gym, so you don’t need to prebook in advance, just show up at any time during the day. We encourage parents to play with their child inside the gym, but we also have a Drop n’ Shop option where we can supervise your child for an hour or two. We have kids fitness classes, dance and drama classes, a maths enrichment program, birthday parties, coffee shop and free wifi too. We also work very closely with Pure Child Health, a centre that offers occupational therapy and speech and language therapy, and we run parent workshops at the gym to help educate parents about child development.
Why is it so important that parents take their children to a gym?
In a day and age where computers and ipads are so readily available, it is important for children to get into good habits early on and understand that movement is an essential part of an active, healthy lifestyle. Just as adults go to the gym and exercise to keep themselves fit, the same should be available for children so that it becomes a habit. If we can encourage the importance of exercise from a young age we will avoid many more health problems later on in life.
What age should parents think about taking their kids to the gym?
We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym welcomes children as young as one year old. There are fun swings to help with spatial awareness and movement as well as soft play toys, role play and arts and crafts to encourage fine motor skills, as well as social skills interacting with other children. From birth to age five, a child’s brain develops more rapidly than at any other time in life. Scientific research has made clear that the quality of a child’s experiences in the first few years of life helps shape how their brain develops. Therefore, in my opinion I would encourage movement and activity as early as possible.
Tell us about some of the specific benefits from the exercises you offer?
There are ten pieces of equipment that will be found in every We Rock Kid’s Gym. These specialised pieces of equipment are all designed to stimulate your neurological system. For example, the climbing apparatus enhances body awareness, body scheme, motor planning and bilateral coordination. The child’s body weight, combined with gravity, provides additional proprioceptive feedback to the joints, helping the child coordinate their movement. The bolster swing provides a swinging side to side motion that is a great motor planning and motor sequencing activity. The trampoline builds lower body strength and helps to teach balance and provides a full body workout. The zip line, by far the most popular piece of equipment in the gym, is a great way to build upper extremity strength, muscle endurance, enhance the ability to integrate and tolerate movement and help give self-confidence as children challenge themselves to hold on long enough to get to the crash pit at the other end. the best part about it is that children are having fun whilst having a full workout without realising it!
How do your services and classes cater to children on the Autism spectrum specifically?
The equipment found at all We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gyms are the same pieces of equipment used in occupational therapy offices to help regulate children on the spectrum who experience sensory processing difficulties. In fact, statistics show that as many as one in six children experience sensory symptoms that could affect their everyday lives. We encourage parents with children on the spectrum to come and play with their child in an inclusive environment with children of all abilities. This encourages parent-child bonding, social interaction and a place where children of ALL abilities are welcomed. In addition, there are long waiting lists for some occupational therapy clinics and it can also be unaffordable for some families.
How is the gym fully inclusive? And how do you cater to differently abled children?
The gym is fully inclusive as we encourage children of all abilities to learn, play and grow together in a safe environment. We do not differentiate children into separate groups as the whole purpose and vision is to provide an inclusive environment for all kids to play together. Our staff are fully trained on the specialised equipment and we have a Calming Room for children who may need a break from the excitement of the gym.
We took our kids to We Rock The Spectrum and they LOVED it, mamas! Check it out for yourselves: