First Queens sensory gym for children with disabilities opens at Ridgewood elementary school – QNS.com

First Queens sensory gym for children with disabilities opens at Ridgewood elementary school

Photo courtesy Extreme Kids & Crew

Extreme Kids & Crew, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit organization, recently opened its first Queens sensory gym location at a Ridgewood elementary school.

P.S. 71, located at 62-85 Forest Ave., opened its doors to Extreme Kids & Crew as a place for children with a wide range of physical and intellectual disabilities and their families to connect, learn, play and grow, aptly named the Ridgewood Space.

The Ridgewood Space has two separate rooms. The creative room has all the toys and art supplies a kid could hope for, as well as a tent and an LED bubble machine. The sensory gym area comes complete with a trampoline, removable rock climbing wall, platform swing, monkey bars and other fun amenities.

Extreme Kids & Crew offers set music, movement and art classes, as well as drop-in “Open Play” sessions in the sensory gym where participants can use equipment usually reserved for therapy sessions.

“Open Play is the best way to get to know us. Children with disabilities, along with their siblings, can play in our sensory gym on equipment usually reserved for therapy, lounge on comfy foofs or delve into the endless toy bins in the play room,” said Leigh Lumford, communications manager at Extreme Kids & Crew. “Parents and kids play together while socializing with other families. We use art, music and play to counter the sense of isolation so many of our families face. Just like Red Hook Space, we aim to expand our Queens programming to include after-school and weekend arts classes and special events.”

The Open Play drop-in sessions are run in two segments on Saturdays from noon to 2 p.m. and from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. These drop-in sessions cost $10 per family, meaning that parents as well as siblings are invited to attend.

Families are required to make reservations to attend the classes. The cost is usually $250 for 10 classes, but Extreme Kids & Crew promises no family will be turned away for lack of funds and offer a pay-what-you-can option for families needing financial assistance.

The Open Play sessions and all of the classes are operated by Extreme Kids & Crew staff members and volunteers. They try to cap each session at 12 children.

On weekdays, the Ridgewood Space is closed to the public and is used by students at P.S. 71 with disabilities and their therapists.

Extreme Kids & Crew was founded by Eliza Factor, a mother of a son with disabilities, who was looking for a place to meet other parents and families with children with physical and intellectual disabilities. Extreme Kids & Crew have two other locations in New York City, in Red Hook and Crown Heights.

For more information about the Ridgewood Space, visit the Kids & Crew website.

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