Gympanzees is an inclusive and accessible space that welcomes children of all ages and abilities to enjoy fun activities and play time, in a welcoming and safe environment with their family, friends and carers.
It is based in Bristol and currently runs pop-up spaces during school holiday periods, allowing families with disabled children access to the rare opportunity of accessible play, exercise and social interaction.
Gympanzees is running a campaign to open a permanent facility in Bristol to offer the 66,000 disabled children and young people who live within an hour of Bristol, access to an amazing, accessible experience
The Project Home Appeal is raising funds to build the first-ever Gympanzees centre, and is supported by the many families living in the South West who have experienced the benefits of Gympanzees.
77% of disabled children cannot access regular leisure facilities and are twice as likely to be lonely compared to their non-disabled peers. Gympanzees provide play, exercise, and social opportunities to disabled children and their families to improve health and help end this isolation. The charity was recently presented with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation for their inclusive leisure facilities.
72% of parents with a disabled child suffer mental health issues because of isolation. Leila, a parent from Bristol, said: “Leaving the house when you have a disabled child is almost like a military operation. You have to get ready, you have to think ahead, you have to do the research, about accessibility, about changing places.”
Emma from North Somerset said: “As a parent of a child with disabilities accessing fun and days out has been a challenge. Isabella was invited to her best friend’s birthday party.
“It was a swimming pool party. And unfortunately, because Isabella is a full-time wheelchair- user, we were unable to go to the party because I couldn’t physically get her into the swimming pool. It was heartbreaking to say to your eight-year-old child, I’m sorry, you can’t go to the party.”
Gympanzees have been running Pop-Up play and exercise centres during the Easter and Summer holidays as they fundraise for a permanent home. The charity takes over a school and fills it with different themed rooms and specialist kit designed for all abilities. They have seen incredible results, such as a five-year-old who slept through the night for the first time after her session and a three-year-old boy who had their first-ever laugh.
Owen, a parent from Bristol, said: “The Pop-Ups are brilliant, but they only Pop-Up during the holidays and can become oversubscribed – a permanent centre would change that.”
Emma, mum to nine-year-old Isabella, said: “To have a permanent Gympanzees centre in Bristol would be life-changing for our family. It would give us a sense of belonging. We could come along with other families like us, Isabella could have her birthday party at Gympanzees, and it’s all accessible to her and her friends as well.”
Gympanzees have had 10,000 visits to their Pop-Up facilities over the 70 days they’ve run. They’re currently holding their Summer Pop-Up in Patchway, Bristol, between Monday 25 July and Friday 19 August and expect 2,500 visits.
Watch the following video to find out more about the difference a permanent facility would make to families:
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