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My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation STL Today

Child care centers adapt to aid frontline workers battling virus spread – STL Today

A number of child care centers in the St. Louis region are tailoring their staffing and hours to meet the needs of first responders, medical staff and other essential workers who are on the front lines of efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

One such worker, Emily Kemp, is a nurse at Barnes-Jewish Hospital who said there’s a “heightened sense of heaviness” as she wears protective gear at work. Sometimes the patients she’s helped need to be tested for the virus.

“It’s a little scary,” she said.

Kemp’s usual day care at the Mid-County Family YMCA in Brentwood closed for several days to clean, she said, leaving Kemp’s husband to care for their two young children while also working from home as an engineer. But then the YMCA reopened to care for the children of first responders and other essential employees.

“We are able to meet the needs of the community and can stop and pivot to meet those needs as they arise,” Gateway Regional YMCA Vice President of Childcare Services Laurie McTearnen said. “We want the opportunity to truly support all those families of essential personnel who support all of us when they go to work every day. We want them to feel good that their children are in a safe, fun, high-quality environment so they don’t have to worry.”

Mary Margaret Daycare and Learning Center is offering child care services at four county locations as well as at the Children’s Learning Center in High Ridge, and offering child care to only medical workers and first responders at its location at 3800 Watson Road in south St. Louis. The center has extended its care hours from 6:30 a.m. to midnight.

Carmi Dudash, director of Mary Margaret Daycare, said despite publicizing the center’s services, attendance has been low so far and administrators decided to close four centers. Staff are taking children’s temperatures at the door and doing extra cleaning, she said.

“I think people are just kind of leaning in the opposite direction,” Dudash said. “They’re fearful of going anywhere, so if they have the option to keep their children at home with their spouses or other family, I think they’re choosing that.”

We Rock the Spectrum in north St. Louis County is offering free child care, but it only has eight open slots for children. It isn’t licensed as a child care facility, but it tells parents to pack their own meal, snacks and water for their child, and has a child-staff ratio of 4 to 1, owner Celeste Brown said.

The free program is funded by We Rock the Spectrum’s nonprofit arm, My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation. They don’t take temperatures, but they do monitor the children for sickness and do extra cleanings, Brown said. It’s important to be available for parents who have to work during the pandemic, she said.

“Some of them have no choice but to go into work,” Brown said. “They’re keeping people alive, they’re working very hard, and as a parent I know how stressful it can be when thinking about your own child.”

“I was feeling very torn between family and having to go to the hospital every day,” Kemp said. “When I was told they could go back to the YMCA, it was a huge weight off my shoulders as a mom and as a nurse practitioner … I’m worried about work, and I’m worried about home, and obviously I’m worried about this virus. But I don’t have to worry about (my children) being there.”

The YMCA is extending child care services at nine locations, offering early child care and school-aged care up to age 12. It’s offering sliding scale fees for families who are struggling financially.

The criteria for eligible families depends on the location of the center — in St. Louis, that only extends to first responders, doctors and other health care workers. But in the surrounding area, it can extend to others whose work is deemed essential.

Read original feature.

My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Herald Sun Australia

Autism groups helping with COVID-19 anxiety – Herald Sun Australia

Families everywhere are facing huge adjustments to daily life as a result of COVID-19.

But for children with autism, the uncertainty caused by school shutdowns and coronavirus fears presents unique challenges.

We’ve compiled expert information on how to talk about coronavirus with kids with autism, where you can get NDIS advice and the all-abilities gym offering free respite for the children of essential services workers.

Amaze chief executive Fiona Sharkie said between 40-70 per cent of people on the spectrum experienced significant anxiety, which could be exacerbated by shutdowns, a loss of routine, and seeing others distressed about COVID-19.

“It is a very confusing and uncertain time and with schools and workplaces shutting down, that can make it very difficult for people with autism to cope,” she said.

Confusion about whether you could access special supermarket shopping hours, potential stock shortages of favourite foods and seeing people wearing – or you being forced to wear – PPE masks could also be distressing.

Ms Sharkie said Amaze was in regular contact with the National Disability Insurance Agency to be able to advise people how their funding could be used at this time.

“We know some people have funding for transport to school or things like that, so we’re seeking the best advice about whether that can be used for home equipment,” she said.

“We are building a bank of information based on what people are asking us.

“It is a challenging time but we are pulling together resources to support people the best way we can.”

She advised anyone with questions to contact the Amaze Autism Advisor service on 1300 308 699 (weekdays 8am-7pm), email at or web chat at

The NDIS website is also regularly updating with coronavirus information and support.

Sue Larkey, an expert in special education, advised using social scripts when explaining the coronavirus to children with autism.

“The advantage of social scripts is the children can refer back to them many times to boost understanding,” she said.

“Social scripts can also tell students what they can do by providing alternative situations.”

You can find out more about social scripts and Ms Larkey’s work here.

Autism Family Support Association secretary Amanda Golding said one of the greatest challenges was managing the uncertainty.

To tackle this she planned a schedule for her adult son – walks to the lake, DVDs to watch, a new jigsaw puzzle – the night before.

We Rock the Spectrum (WRTS) co-owner Sally Johnson said the all-abilities gym remained open for the time being.

Families can privately hire the Preston indoor playground, which is sanitised after every visit and has strict entry requirements, for a discounted $100 an hour to help children meet their sensory needs.

Ms Johnson said families accessing NDIS funds could contact WRTS to see if they could use the funding for private hire sessions.

While they had been forced to significantly reduce their school holiday respite program for public health reasons, Ms Johnson said they were looking at how they could offer families respite if schools remained closed after the break.

The organisation’s charity partner My Brother Rocks the Spectrum is sponsoring free care and drop-off services at We Rock the Spectrum for the children of people working in essential services such as healthcare, supermarket workers and emergency services crews.

Read the original feature.

My Brother Rocks the Spectrum WSPA News 7

Businesses offer free childcare for essential employees – WSPA News 7

SIMPSONVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Many essential workers have been putting their own safety on the line to curb the pandemic, and one Upstate group will now be offering those workers free childcare.

We Rock the Spectrum gym in Simpsonville is typically open to families with children with special needs. Now it is opening its doors for free childcare for essential workers who cannot work from home.

Essential workers, such as medical personnel, first responders, grocery store workers and more, can call to schedule a time for their children to be at the gym. Organizers said they have the ability to take children with special sensory needs as well.

Organizers said this is being made possible because of their nonprofit, My Brother Rocks the Spectrum organization.

Workers at the gym have been cleaning and taking advice from health professionals to assure a clean environment. They will also make sure only small groups of children play together at a time, organizers said.

To make a reservation, call (864) 243-8419, message on Facebook or email

The YMCA in downtown Spartanburg Thomas E. Hannah and Middle Tyger YMCAs have been offering childcare options as well.

For more information, contact the location’s member service desk. Spartanburg branch hours for desk is Monday – Thursday 7 a.m. – 6 p.m., Friday 7 a.m. – noon, Saturday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. The facilities will be closed on Sundays.

YMCA branches in Anderson and Greenville are NOT offering this service at this time.

Read the original feature.

MBRTS COVID-19 Corporate Announcement Flyer

A Letter from We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym Corporate about COVID-19

As the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, many valuable child-care services are becoming limited and/or temporarily unavailable. My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation (MBRTS), the non-profit organization for the franchise We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym Worldwide, is taking action to ensure that all healthcare professionals, first responders, grocery store workers and essential emergency personnel still required to go to work to help fight this pandemic are receiving the support and services they need.

Effective immediately, MBRTS will be sponsoring free Break Time Care/Drop-Off services at all We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym Worldwide locations.

We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym would like to thank all of the healthcare professionals, first responders, grocery store workers, and essential emergency personnel out there in the world risking their own lives to save others. Here is the link to our locations page so you can find your nearest gym to assist you during this difficult time:

Our gyms are a safe haven of inclusion for so many, and will continue to provide a place of refuge for ALL children in this trying time. We have implemented safety precautions using companies that use electrostatic spray, a safe and highly effective spray that kills 99.9% of germs. We continue to monitor and follow the CDC guidelines for the safety of every child that walks through our doors. Please call ahead to reserve your space, as we will be operating with low capacity limits at this time.

Dina Kimmel
Founder and CEO
We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym Worldwide

My Brother Rocks the Spectrum KSDK

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.

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.

Read the original feature.

A Letter from our CEO in the Wake of Hurricane Harvey

Dear We Rockers,

This past week has been an incredibly difficult one for our We Rock the Spectrum family as our gym owners in Texas face the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. As the CEO & Founder of We Rock the Spectrum, I have been in contact with our gym owners in Texas every day as they update us on their situation. Some gyms have flooded, some have been forced to close under dangerous conditions, and some of our owners suffered damages to their cars and homes. This is happening to thousands of families in Houston and its surrounding communities. It’s heartbreaking for me, as I feel so helpless being so far away. I believe I can speak for all of us when I say that we are all looking for any way in which we can help — big or small.

As the CEO and Founder of We Rock the Spectrum, I am offering the families of Houston that have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey 1 month  free memberships to their local We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym. We Rock the Spectrum has always strived to be a safe haven for special needs children and families who felt like they had nowhere else to go and play. Now, we’d like to be a safe haven in another way — for the children and families in Houston who face a difficult road ahead as they rebuild their homes and communities. We’d like to be a place for them to come together, find support in one another, and have fun — even if it’s for only a few hours a day.

That is what our non-profit, My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation, is currently working towards. The donations we have received so far have gone towards funding memberships for the families of We Rock the Spectrum – Katy, We Rock the Spectrum – Houston/Memorial, We Rock the Spectrum – The Woodlands, and We Rock the Spectrum – Cypress, who have all been so gravely affected by Hurricane Harvey. We hope this makes their days a little brighter as they face the arduous months of rebuilding ahead.

Thank you, We Rockers. We will keep you updated with our Texas gyms’ situations in the coming weeks. Please continue to keep them in your thoughts.

If you’d like to help us in our efforts, please click here.


Dina Kimmel
CEO, Founder
We Rock the Spectrum

Some of our Texas Gym Owners: Shannon Mazy (WRTS – Katy), Jill Johnson (WRTS – Houston/Memorial), and Margaret Medina Lee (WRTS – Sugarland).

Kiddos from WRTS – Katy finding a temporary new place to play at WRTS – San Antonio, which thankfully missed the storm.






Donate to Hurricane Harvey Relief

Our hearts are with Texas as Hurricane Harvey is still taking its toll on Houston and the surrounding communities — today, and for many months to come. In our effort to help, we will be taking donations to provide relief to affected areas, especially for the children. For those affected by Hurricane Harvey, your donations will help us fund monthly memberships for special needs children at the following gyms: Houston/Memorial, Katy, Cypress, and The Woodlands.

To make an online contribution, please click the link below and specify “Harvey Relief” with your donation.

Thank you, We Rockers. Please continue to keep Texas in your thoughts.