Gympanzees was the idea of Stephanie Wheen, a physiotherapist in Bristol, who specialises in children and young people with disabilities. Stephanie was overrun with clients looking for help for their children. She tried to take her clients out into the community but soon realised the lack of accessible leisure facilities.
The idea behind Gympanzees is simple ? children and young people with disabilities getting exercise and health benefits without knowing they are!
Our visitors can play, explore and have fun but little do they know they are using equipment designed to improve their fitness, help with sensory integration and they are improving their social skills in the process.
Increasing life expectancy
Physical activity can increase life expectancy by reducing major mortality risk factors such as stroke, diabetes and poor lung health. Physical activity will also help improve mobility, coordination, energy levels, appetite, sleep and assist in weight loss.
The opportunity provided by Gympanzees for physical activity will result in better health outcomes, reduced burden on the NHS and, most importantly, improve quality of life amongst the children and young people and their families.
How does Gympanzees help?
Our mission at Gympanzees is to enable every child and young person with a disability to access regular play, exercise and friendship, to improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing, and to take their families out of isolation.
This is currently achieved through our Pop Ups, an equipment lending library and an online resources hub that has supported thousands of children and young people with disabilities.
The Pop Ups take place during the Easter and Summer holidays and include a specialised gym, soft play, active and calm sensory and music rooms, trampolines, therapy suites and a social café. Our team of disability professionals encourage exercise using specialist equipment designed to increase activity and provide a varied sensory experience, ensuring children and young people are improving their health while enjoying themselves.
In the summer of 2023 we secured £3.3m to purchase a site, including £200,000 in Gifts In Kind. This unique destination, based in South Gloucestershire, includes 43,000 sqft building on a 14-acre site with 500 parking spaces and large woodland areas that will serve our vast community. It will be open seven days a week and provide a safe and welcoming, fully accessible and inclusive environment with dedicated amenities and experienced staff. The UK's first of its kind!
Our journey continues now with plans to raise £10.8 million by 2026 for a purpose-built facility. We need to turn the building into a home with multiple different activity rooms, a highly specialised and inclusive design and filled with extraordinary equipment to meet the play, exercise and social needs of all children and young people that could attend as we could have up to 200,000 visitors that could visit from across England and Wales each year. This property will also allow us to work collaboratively with other organisations and explore commercial opportunities.
We believe being able to play and exercise is a right for every child and young person, regardless of their ability. And being able to take advantage of these moments and enjoy them whilst building support systems with?families in similar situations, is the right of every parent caring for a disabled child. Our new home will provide endless possibilities for health, happiness and support and will create cherished family memories such as a three-year- old laughing for the first time, a six-year-old taking his first steps, siblings able to play together, and parents making friendships with others who understand the disability world. This year-round headquarters will provide families support, reduce isolation, and improve health and well-being for all!