Local gym for special needs children keeps doors open, while not receiving a salary

By Heather Holeman for kfor.com

EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – COVID-19 closed many Oklahoma businesses and nearly closed a small gym in Edmond, designed for special needs children.

But knowing its value to so many special needs children and to their parents, its owners went to great lengths to keep their doors open, while also keeping those priceless smiles on all the kids’ faces, including six-year-old Chris Perkins.

“He’s severely autistic, non-verbal, and he does 32 hours a week of therapy to try to learn this world that’s very confusing for him,” Stephanie Perkins said, describing her son, Chris. “It has completely changed my life.”

But when inside We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym in Edmond, Chris shines!

“Chris doesn’t have friends. When he comes here, he’s with other special needs kids, and they just get each other. And it just gives them an outlet to go to and to look around and to realize that there are other kids just like them,” Stephanie said.

Parents describe the gym as a treasure, but it hasn’t been easy to keep it open.

Gym owners Gwen Batchelor and her husband Scott scrape together just enough money each month to pay rent, relying on donations, faith and the two jobs Scott works, while Gwen runs the gym seven days a week.

“She has not taken a paycheck since they opened this two years ago. She’s here all day, every day. She doesn’t have any employees, she does it all herself because she knows how important this place is, and what it means to our children,” Stephanie said.

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