Columbus-area indoor playground is safe space for children with disabilities

The Columbus Dispatch

Cohen Clokey beamed as he bounced on the trampoline at his mother’s encouragement.  The 2-year-old then bent to retrieve a ball and threw it toward the basketball hoop mounted on the trampoline’s rim.

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Despite missing, the smile didn’t leave his face as he toddled over to the edge and walked down the stairs to the floor. A few moments later, his mother, Cara Clokey, pushed him on a small platform swing, his eyes staring up in wonder at the ropes moved back and forth.

The Clokeys spent a recent morning at We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym in Lewis Center, playing on equipment designed specifically for children with sensory processing disorders such as autism. The two had been to the inclusive indoor playground before since it’s a great indoor activity close to their Westerville home, Clokey said.

“There’s so many differentiated choices for the kids of all ages and levels and sensitivities,” said Clokey, 30. “It’s a very welcoming environment with lots to do no matter the age range or academic level. There’s something that meets every child here.”

Clokey appreciates the variety of toys and equipment to keep Cohen busy, especially in the winter. It’s also great that he had the ability for him to run around inside the space, she said.

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The gym was opened about four years ago in Lewis Center, said former owner Meagan Horn, and provides a safe space for people of all abilities.

About half of the children who go have disabilities, said Horn, who took over ownership of the gym in 2020.

Manager Ashley McCarthy plays with her daughter, Avery, 7, at the gym on Nov. 23.

The gym is part of a franchise that began in California, Horn said, and has 117 locations in 28 states and eight countries, according to its website,

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“We provide a safe space for people of all abilities to come in and have a place to play and not have to worry about where their ability level is or where their social emotional level is,” Horn said.

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