Colorful murals, swings big enough for parents and children, and a glow-in-the-dark ball pit are just some of the fun that can be found at Little Land Play Gym in Temple, TX. The location was created to be an all-access space to allow children of all ages and abilities to learn through play.
“Being right down the street from Baylor Scott & White, there are a lot of children in this area who are autistic or who are on the spectrum,” said, Casie Wadford, the gym’s owner. “Taking an autistic child to the playground can be exhausting for a parent, and there wasn’t a safe, indoor play place for them before now.”
Not only is the gym handicap accessible, but the playground equipment was also created with special needs kids in mind.
“The majority of our swings are the ones you might find in an OT (Occupational Therapy) or PT (Physical Therapy) clinic and can hold up to 500 pounds,” Wadford said. “We encourage parents and assistants to get on and help the kids to play. It’s also a great way for moms to hold their babies in their lap and still be able to swing.”
The gym also has a sensory room that is geared toward autistic children. It’s lit up with a black light and provides a variety of surfaces and experiences to stimulate the senses.
“Even though the room is geared toward children with autism, all children can enjoy the sensory room and other aspects of the gym,” she said. “What they don’t realize is that they are working on balance, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, muscle building and problem solving through play.”
Wadford wanted to bring the Little Land Play Gym franchise to the Temple/Belton area not only for the special needs kids who were underserved, but she also wanted to cater to those with babies and small children.
“There are bounce houses for bigger kids, but there didn’t seem to be anything for younger children,” Wadford said.
The gym owner not only made sure that the facility was safe for toddlers, but she also created an area that is just for children under 18 months old.
“It’s got lots of padding, so our newest kiddos can safely learn to crawl,” she said. “If they fall and tumble, they’re not going to hurt themselves.”
The gym is open seven days a week and hosts a variety of activities including story times, sensory art classes, and a Parent’s Night Out on the first Friday of every month. Little Land also hosts birthday parties and summer camps that are educational and fun.
“So, get in touch with your inner child and bring your kids in and enjoy swinging or sliding or putting together a puzzle,” Wadford said.
For more information about Little Land Play Gym, visit their website at www.temple.littlelandplaygym.com or come by for a visit at 4311 South 31st St., #105 in Temple.
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Jessa is the Editor-in-Chief of Hooray for Family and the mom of three energetic children. She has a BA in Mass Communication/Journalism from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and is a long-time resident of Central Texas. When she isn't writing and editing, she enjoys playing board games with her kids, teaching Sunday school and channeling her creativity into craft projects.