Rocking the spectrum in Parkwood

Kelly and Sean McAllister
Zip line
Shopper Mason pays cashier Sophia at the Fresh Market.
Fabulous Faces owner Jane Lashner paints a shark on a boy’s arm.

Dozens of kids came to Saturday’s grand reopening of We Rock the Spectrum – Northeast Philadelphia, a children’s gym at 12357 Academy Road, in the Parkwood Shopping Center.

We Rock the Spectrum is a gym that provides sensory-safe play for kids with autism, special needs and neurotypical development. The gym, though, is open to all kids. It’s ideal for kids 12 or under (or older, if on the autism spectrum).

“It’s for children of all abilities,” said owner Kelly McAllister.

The cost is $14 per person for two hours of open play. Packages and monthly memberships are available.

We Rock the Spectrum, founded by an autism mom in California, has 93 franchises worldwide. The local gym opened in November 2016, but closed in February, a victim of the coronavirus shutdowns.

The gym features 12 pieces of therapeutic equipment designed to work with many of the sensory processing issues that children on the spectrum face, while providing all children with improved learning and neurological development.

Those pieces of equipment are the crash pit; a tunnel; carpet, bolster and hammock swings; a zip line; a zip box with slide; a climbing mountain and other structures; a trampoline; a rope bridge; and swivel rotators/carabinders with webbing.

The gym also offers arts and crafts, along with toys for sale from Melissa & Doug and Fat Brain. A Fresh Market allows kids to pretend they are shopping in a real store.

McAllister is the new owner of We Rock the Spectrum – Northeast

Philadelphia. She and her husband, Sean, have three boys — Logan, Jackson and Cameron — under 4½. None are on the spectrum, though other family members are.

“They struggle to find a place where they are welcome and safe,” McAllister said.

We Rock the Spectrum is welcoming and safe, McAllister said. In fact, the motto is, “Finally A Place Where You Never Have to Say I’m Sorry.”

McAllister has a degree in business and marketing from Penn State University. She formerly worked in marketing and event planning.

“I always knew I wanted to own my own business, and found something where I can make a difference and is community oriented,” she said.

McAllister is a Langhorne native who attended Neshaminy High School. She and her family live in Morrisville.

Sean McAllister is a Parkwood native who attended St. Anselm Elementary School before moving to Langhorne and attending Neshaminy. Most of his family still live in the Far Northeast.

“We’re excited to be back in the neighborhood and playing a small part in giving back,” Kelly McAllister said.

Saturday’s grand opening featured an appearance by Swoop and a face painter. The gym is open for birthday parties, and a preschool will open in the fall.

Hours are daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. More information is available on the We Rock the Spectrum – Northeast Philadelphia page on Facebook or on Instagram at wrts_nephilly. ••