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Summer fun implemented safely at Jewish institutions

Jewish institutions across South Florida feel the safety protocols they implemented in their summer camp programs have so far worked effectively.

Among the various precautions the institutions implemented this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic include temperature checks for staff and children, increased cleaning support, personal protection equipment, limited capacity, smaller group sizes, mask wearing, requirement of parents to drop-off and pick up their children at the entrance and more.

Jenny Mermelszteyn, camp director for the Galbut Family Miami Beach Jewish Community Center, said that JCC has been very precautious in setting up all safety protocols for Camp Klurman, which runs through Aug. 14.

“The most important thing is that our parents and our community have been very supportive in helping us to enforce the safety protocols,” she continued.

Jesse Rosen, president and chief executive officer of the Mandel JCC of the Palm Beaches, said he has personally felt safe going to the J’s Boynton Beach and Palm Beach Gardens facilities this summer while running its programs for children.

In lieu of its typical Camp Shalom, the Mandel JCC ran a Summer Days at the J childcare program from June 8-Aug. 7, and will also provide a S’More Summer Days program through Aug. 21.

“We’ve updated our safety protocols 20-30 times over the last nine weeks and we just keep learning from our experience to try to do things better every day,” Rosen said.

Marleny Rosemberg, director for the Michael-Ann Russell JCC’s Camp Sol Taplin in North Miami Beach which runs through Aug. 14, said this year has been a learning experience for campers, counselors and staff regarding health.

“We are learning every week on how important it is to use masks, especially when inside, and how important it is to take care of ourselves, wash our hands and being flexible in all situations,” she said.

Randy Colman, executive director for the Adolph & Rose Levis JCC in Boca Raton, said safety protocols assured the success of its Marleen Forkas Camp Kavod program this summer.

“Our parents are begging us for more,” Colman said. “We had such stringent and strict protocols for the program.”

The camp, which is part of the Levis JCC’s Helene & Roy Schwedelson Special Needs Department, partnered with We Rock the Spectrum, an indoor gym and play center, to present its summer program for children and teens with special needs.

Rabbi Hershy Bronstein of the Chai Center Chabad in Coral Springs said the safety protocols it implemented for its preschool summer camp, which is currently running, have also been very effective.

“The Chai Ceinter was careful to follow all of the CDC regulations, and we were in close contact with the Early Learning Coalition of Broward County, which is the office that administers licensing for preschools,” Bronstein said. “I believe the standards that we implemented enhanced the program and gave parents a feeling of confidence that they can send their children here and that they will be safe.”


JCC, play center partner for special needs camp

The Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center’s Marleen Forkas Camp Kavod in Boca Raton has partnered with We Rock the Spectrum, an indoor gym and play center, to present its summer program for children and teens with special needs from July 6-31.

This camp, which is part of the Levis JCC’s Helene & Roy Schwedelson Special Needs Department, has been housed on the campus of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County for more than 13 years. However, with the Federation’s campus closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the program is taking place this year at the We Rock the Spectrum location in Boca Raton.

“Although presenting our program as usual was not possible, we felt strongly that we needed to find a safe alternate location so that we could continue to serve our community this summer,” said Ali Landman, director of the Schwedelson Special Needs Department, in a news release.

The camp is offered Monday through Friday in half-day options. Campers ages 3-12 will attend from 9 a.m. through noon and they must bring their lunch, while those ages 13-22 will attend from 1-4 p.m. The fee for the program is $1,200, and campers must register for all four weeks. Snacks will be provided daily to both groups. Safety precautions including group sizes of less than 10 people, daily temperature checks, increased hand washing and face mask wearing by staff when feasible will be implemented.


Boca Family Essentials to Survive the Summer Season (Safely)

Well folks, it doesn’t look like the majority of us are leaving the Boca Raton area anytime soon. Summer vacations have been cancelled and most camps are iffy at best. And the worst part? COVID-19 is still a threat which means we should still be trying to stay home as much as possible. Despite the heat, my daughter and I always look forward to a fun summer every year. So, how’s a local family supposed to make the most of the South Florida season…safely? I’m sharing a list of essentials I’m personally investing in to survive and thrive this 2020 summer!

Pediatrician in Your Pocket

Boca VIPediatrics Waiting Room

Topping the list of essential services for Boca families who value personalized and accessible healthcare above all else is fan favorite, Boca VIPediatrics. A membership model for pediatric care, this “Disney hospitality” based pediatric office provides members 24/7 access to text, call, or email their family’s own personal board-certified pediatrician. There’s no nurse triage line or robot answering service. It’s your doctor’s cell phone, every single time. That peace of mind is priceless.

Their immaculate office also offers no wait times (the lobby, pictured above, is dubbed “the non-waiting room”), house calls for newborns, one family at a time appointments, virtual visits, and the very best pediatricians (in my humble opinion) in town. This practice prides itself on personalized service plus modern medicine and has been a game changer in Boca for parents since their inception in 2013. Whether our town is in phase 1 or phase 3, keeping your “pediatrician in your pocket” is one summer essential you’ll need all year in order to keep your children the healthiest and happiest.

Cold Drinks 24/7

I’m pretty sure my hot coffee was always cold and my cold water was always hot prior to owning my first YETI tumbler. These thermal cups have been a game changer for my family and I and summer really puts them to the test! We’re no longer using single-use plastic bottles and our drinks stay the temperature we want no matter what the season. I can’t live without them.

Private Play Dates

Now that social distancing is our new normal for a while, the traditional playdate is getting an essential upgrade. This summer, families can book private sessions at local play gyms like We Rock the Spectrum Boca Raton in 90-minute intervals for $90. Up to 5 children per family can spend their time in air conditioned splendor enjoying sensory and physically beneficial activities within a clean, safe and controlled environment.

Outdoor Furniture Improvement

Outer Sofa. Photo: Michelle Olson-Rogers

If your house has a pool, chances are you are going to be spending A LOT of time in it this summer. And when you’re not splashing around with your kiddos, us Boca moms are definitely going to need a super comfortable place to sit and monitor them. Enter: The Outer Sofa.

I’ve sat on countless outdoor sofas during my lifetime and Outer has got to be the world’s most comfortable, durable and innovative one. Each piece is modular and even comes with built in OuterShell™ covers to keep the cushions clean from dirt, water and debris when you’re not using it. Plus, the Outer Sofa is kid-proof! The fabric on the cushions (even the cream color) is stain-resistant and easy to clean with simple soap and water.

Delivery Dudes & Uber Eats

If you’re not grilling out or ordering in, is it even summer? I’m certainly not revving up my oven during the hottest months of the year. Instead, I’m scheduling Uber Eats to drop off essential summer treats like frozen yogurt from Giano Gelato in Boca Center and having Delivery Dudes pop by with Hibachi Nitro Ice Cream.

I also plan on ordering my favorite family meals from local restaurants at least once a week. Anything to make our lazy summer, just a little bit lazier and more relaxing for us Boca moms…

And that may be the most essential thing of all.

Garlic Fest We Rock the Spectrum Boca Raton

Garlic Fest aims for more inclusion, greater safety – The Palm Beach Post

We Rock the Spectrum: Sensory-safe Playground Moves to Upgraded Location

Boca Raton play gym aims to be the one place kids don’t have to say they’re sorry

“I LOVE THIS PLACE!” my 6 year-old daughter and 2 year-old nephew exclaimed as my sister and I walked (they ran) into the brand-new location of We Rock the Spectrum Boca Raton.

I almost yelled the same thing considering we were entering a wonderfully air conditioned space from 93-degree Florida heat outside.

An indoor play gym on a scorching or rainy day is a Boca mom’s godsend if you happen to have little kids with lots of energy to burn. And We Rock is extra special because they not only cater to typically developing children, but to those with autism or special needs as well—They believe in accommodating everyone.

While We Rock the Spectrum Boca Raton is now in an upgraded location in The Boca Hamptons Plaza on Lyons Road, we’ve been going to this sensory-safe play gym since my daughter, Avery, was only 1 year old. (FYI—I remember her crying so hard when we left after our first visit! It was that fun.)

A family-owned franchise, they’ve now doubled in size from their original space to a bright, wide-open playtime mecca that offers tons of classes, birthday parties, a toddler play area and more. In making sure We Rock sticks to their core mission of inclusion, they’ve also added a low-lit calming room for kids who might need a sensory break.

The activities at We Rock the Spectrum are endless. From a spring-free trampoline and jungle gym to swings, a zip line, rock climbing wall and imaginary play stations, no two visits will be ever be the same for your children. As for the parents, We Rock has also added a “bar area” where moms and dads can hang out and supervise their children from a distance or have a snack at a little café table next to the We Rock Shop. Having more space has really made a big difference.

A couple things to note before you visit We Rock the Spectrum Boca Raton:

There is no age limit for children with special needs. For neurotypical children, ages 11 and under.
$14 per child; siblings discounted to $12 each.
There are monthly memberships available.
A parent or guardian must accompany the child during Open Play at all times.

Rock on Boca families!

We Rock the Spectrum, 9060 Kimberly Blvd #36-39, Boca Raton; 561/218-0128;


We rock the Spectrum childrens’ gym opens in Boca Raton

BOCA RATON, Fla. (CBS12) — A place to play, learn and be accepted for children on the Autism spectrum.

“He loves coming and using the zip-line and the trampoline,” said one mother, Kristin Streit, of her son.

But while We Rock the Spectrum looks like any other place for kids to play, it’s actually specifically designed to be especially friendly to kids on the spectrum.

“I have one child with autism, one without. It’s a great, safe place for him to come where he can meet all of his sensory needs in one,” said Streit.

There are swings and trampolines that look normal but are actually based on sensory equipment found at occupational therapy centers.

“There are so many things he can play with and so many things he can enjoy,” said Streit.

The gym’s motto: “Finally a place where you never have to say sorry.”

“It’s wonderful to come and meet other people and feel like I can come and not have to apologize,” said Streit.

It’s also a great place for parents of children on the spectrum to network.

“It’s been so nice to come and meet other people: teachers, families, mothers, fathers, everybody who has an understanding of children on the spectrum,” said Streit.

And a place where any child can play and learn.

“There’s typical children and non-typical children and to have everybody together in one place to where everybody can play together has been really helpful to him and to other children as well to be more understanding of other children with disabilities,” said Streit.

Shane Stahl, the Chief Strategy Officer for “We Rock the Spectrum,” says he is excited to announce the partnership between them and Springfree Trampoline, which boasts the safest, highest quality and longest lasting trampolines. Springfree Trampoline donated the trampoline that is seen in the gym today.


Children’s Gym that Serves Kids with Autism and Special Needs Hosts Celebration for New Location

Boca Raton Sensory Gym Doubles in Size, Servicing 1,000+ in First Month
We Rock the Spectrum – Boca Raton Hosts a Celebration for their Bigger and Better Location

Boca Raton, FL – We Rock the Spectrum – Boca Raton has opened the doors to its brand-new, upgraded location that is double the size of its previous space. To celebrate their success and the opening of this amazing new gym, they will be hosting an event on Sunday, July 21st from 11am to 4pm. The celebration will take place at the new gym at The Boca Hamptons, 9060 Kimberly Blvd, Suite 36 – 39, Boca Raton, FL 33434. We Rock the Spectrum caters to children with special needs and families with children of ALL abilities are encouraged to come enjoy the new gym.

Due to the overwhelming popularity of the original location, it became apparent to owners, Gail and John Field, that they had outgrown the space and finding a larger gym was the next best step for their community. It was the first-of-its-kind when the sensory gym introduced itself to the community 5 years ago and continues to break barriers with all the improvements that Gail and John have implemented at this new location.

“Our customers always loved how homey our We Rock was, so John and I were afraid going bigger would ruin the effect,” Gail said. “But customers are loving the new space and layout and said that it feels the same – just bigger! We are so excited to have brought this bigger and better location to our community.”

Following months of hard work and meticulous planning to make sure the gym was ready for launch, the new location opened its doors on May 27th, 2019. Opening day proved to be a huge success. Since then, We Rock the Spectrum – Boca Raton has been flooded with camps, parties, and daily Open Play. New and repeat customers have raved of its upgrade and are pleased with all the new additions.

“A lot of thought and care went into the design of this location,” said Yesinia Belen, whose daughter has enjoyed celebrating her birthday several times at the We Rock – Boca Raton gym. “The owners exhibit love and compassion to all the families that come into the gym.”

The New Location Celebration will be an exciting, fun-filled day set to match the excellence of this new gym. The location will also be home to the east coast Corporate Headquarter offices. To help celebrate this milestone for the franchise, CEO and founder, Dina Kimmel, will be flying in from California with members of her west coast Corporate team. Babula Events will be providing the entertainment, Brett Preiser will be performing, Wonderland Parties will have special guests and characters in attendance, and local vendors and restaurants will be sharing their resources.

The celebration is open to children of all abilities. Children will be able to play with all the specialized equipment, including the trampoline, swings, and the zip line. It will be held at The Boca Hamptons Plaza, 9060 Kimberly Blvd, Suite 36 – 39, Boca Raton, FL 33434 from 11 am to 4 pm. Admission is $12 per child, and 20% of the proceeds will go to the My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation.

About We Rock the Spectrum

Founded in 2010, We Rock the Spectrum is an international franchise opportunity that provides sensory-safe play for kids with autism, special needs, and neurotypical development. Each franchise location features ten pieces of uniquely designed therapeutic equipment that promote learning, development, and sensory-safe play. For example, the zip line helps children with vestibular sensations and sensory feedback, while allowing them to better develop upper-arm and core strength. Learn more about the We Rock the Spectrum franchise, its specialized equipment, and the various services it offers by visiting its corporate website

delray florida newspaper local mom scoop

Keeping The Kids Busy Inside This Summer – Delray Newspaper

By: Heather McMechan Contributing Writer

July is here and you know what that means. It’s probably too hot to go outside. I’m sure you’re wondering what to do with the kids and you could use a break from heat or the afternoon rainstorm.

I have the scoop on some indoor places that will keep everyone happy this July.

We Rock The Spectrum Boca

We Rock The Spectrum Boca is an indoor playground that specializes in playtime for children with special needs. They have suspended equipment with swings for balance and vestibular treatment. Crash mats and crash pillows for fun, motor planning, and strength. Tunnels, zip line, and a trampoline for building leg and core strength.

We Rock The Spectrum Boca is located at 19635 State Road 7, Suite 46, in Boca Raton, Fl 33498. Call 561-218-0128 for more details.

Mother daughter jumping

Mommy and Me moments: Make May a month to remember – Sun Sentinel

There’s nothing more precious than “mommy and me” time, so it’s essential to carve out time for those special moments before your child becomes a tween and reserves weekends and school breaks for friends and activities as far away from their parents as possible.

In fact, a child’s cognitive and social skills have been linked to spending more time with their mother between the ages of 3 and 7, according to study by academics from the University of Essex and University College London that was reported on

Miami-based Pediatric Occupational Therapist Amy Baez, who created “Playful Jams” to encourage parent/child time, enjoys devoting her class to improving a child’s brain development while offering behavior-boosting exercises for children and their parents. “At my class, the parents do not drop the kids off and leave,” Baez said. “Parents are required to be there and participate.”

Baez’s classes are split into two age groups — 2-4 and 5-9 — so each group of children can thrive among their parents and peers. “Classes with a ‘Mommy and me’ [or parent and me] set-up strengthen trust bonds and enhance developmental and social skills,” she said.

We Rock The Spectrum Kids Gym, 19635 State Road 7, Suite 45, Boca Raton,

Get in shape while bonding with your little one with Zumbini classes Mondays 11:15 a.m. to noon through May 21 with instructor Andrea Hantman. Classes are also offered Tuesdays 11:15 a.m. to noon through May 22. Created by Zumba and BabyFirst for kids ages zero to four, the Zumbini allows you to sing, dance and play with your child and continue the fun with take home books, music and even a TV show to bring the experience home with you.

Read More Here

Dancing on the Spectrum

Many parents with children on the autism spectrum will say that one of the biggest challenges they’ve faced while on their autism journey is getting their child to be physically active. Not only does autism affect a child’s ability to function “normally” in typical social settings, but the disorder also affects a child’s fine motor skills and coordination, making exercise and physical activity — especially group activities — all the more difficult. For an autism parent, this means having to find creative and alternative ways to get our kiddos up and moving. That’s exactly what our program, Dancing on the Spectrum, aims to do!

Created by nationally recognized dancer turned instructor, Michele Mirisola, Dancing on the Spectrum is a dance studio here at We Rock the Spectrum where kids of all abilities are invited to learn, play, and grow through the magic of dance. In an interview with Michele, we learn more about our rockin’ instructor and found out what inspired her to start Dancing on the Spectrum and what she hopes the kiddos gain from it.-

Meet Michele Mirisola

Dancing on the Spectrum Instructor, Michele Mirisola

“It was like I could dance before I could walk,” Michele Mirisola says about the earliest days of her dancing career, “so it’s been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember.”

Since then, that passion has taken her far — from New York City to study under renowned dance instructor, Charles Russell of The Joffery Ballet, to performing at events, recitals, and parades all over the country.

Through the years with these experiences under her belt, Michele realized that her next calling was to share her passion with others. Thus, she sought out to be an instructor herself. After studying with Dance Educators of America in New York City, Michele was licensed to be an instructor and the rest was history. She would spend the next 15 years teaching all genres of dance — from jazz to hip hop to ballet — to children of all ages.

The Start of Dancing on the Spectrum

Michele’s experience with the special needs community is a deeply personal one — her cousin has Down syndrome. It was when Michele noticed that dance, an activity that brought her so much joy and excitement, wasn’t so easy for her cousin that she knew she wanted to do something to help.

“[My cousin] would see me dance and she’d want to do the same,” Michele says. “It just didn’t come as easily to her and there were so many more hurdles for her to overcome.”

Not only is dancing physically more challenging for an individual with special needs, but being in a room with dozens of other people can be intimidating, uncomfortable, and send many kids with special needs into a meltdown.

“That’s when I had the idea for Dancing on the Spectrum. Dancing is a great emotional release and an excellent way to express yourself, and everyone deserves that.”

What You Can Expect From Dancing on the Spectrum

At Dancing on the Spectrum, personal development is the goal. Being in a room full of other people can be extremely intimidating for our kiddos, but Dancing on the Spectrum aims to instill confidence in each of them by creating an environment where they’re free to express themselves just as they’d like — without fear or judgment.

“The classes are fun and interactive and the kids are encouraged to use their imagination.” Michele says, “Some of my students even call it ‘jumping class’ because they love the part where they count and jump.”

Since Dancing on the Spectrum started, Michele’s noticed so many of her students go from being quiet and reserved to slowly coming out of their shell to being able to perform with amazing confidence. Personal growth in any way is never discounted. For one of Michele’s students, even getting him to wear a hat was an accomplishment, as any autism parent out there will tell you how fussy it can be to get our kids to wear or try something new. Some students start out very shy and nervous and eventually go on to be able to perform in front of others at holiday shows.

Dancing on the Spectrum sessions are held once a week and are one hour long. Dance camps are also available during the summer, winter, and Easter holidays. The children are independent during the session and the general age range is between potty-trained and 15. To learn more about Dancing on the Spectrum, check out Michele’s website,!

To sign up your kiddos, call We Rock the Spectrum at (561) 218-0128.


Brett Preiser: A New Voice for Autism

Brett Preiser is family to us here at We Rock the Spectrum – Boca Raton. Back when we first opened, Brett came into our gym and asked to be a volunteer when he was just a junior in high school. Since then, Brett has grown to be a familiar face in the Special Needs community in South Florida — and it’s all because of his talent and passion for music. In an interview with his mother, Jill, we get to know a little bit more about our rising star.

Brett and his family originally connected with our gym just months after we first opened our doors. Brett’s parents wanted him to get involved in something within the community during the summer. That’s when his mother, Jill, recalled hearing about a gym for special needs kids that had just opened and encouraged Brett to stop in and ask if they needed help.

When Brett came in, the connection between him and our gym owners, Gail and John Field, was instant and they offered him a volunteer job on the spot! Brett would spend that Summer as a volunteer helping with the kids.

A Child In Between

Brett spent his childhood in Connecticut, near Yale University. When Brett was one and a half years old, his mother, Jill, began to notice certain developmental issues with him that differed from his older brother. It wasn’t long before Brett was diagnosed with autism.

In Connecticut, the Preiser family fell in a lonely in-between. Brett was too high-functioning emotionally and socially to go to the special needs schools in the area, but he was low-functioning in math, timing, and other cognitive functions, making it hard for him to keep up with neurotypical students.

While Connecticut had all the professional resources that their family could need — from therapists to counselors — Jill remembers feeling lonely because they didn’t know any families like theirs or any other kids like Brett. So when Brett was eight years old, the Preiser family moved to Boca Raton.

A New World in Boca Raton

It was here in Florida that Brett’s life took to the path towards music. Shortly after the family’s move, Brett picked up one of his father’s guitars and began teaching himself songs and chords by watching YouTube videos. Brett cites The Beatles as one of his first musical inspirations. Brett’s mother says that music came very naturally to him and that he never needed to take formal lessons.

Over the years that followed, Brett never abandoned his passion for music and his talent developed more and more. He started playing at local venues around the community.

Brett’s music career in the South Florida community really took off when our gym owner, Gail Field, heard Brett sing and play guitar during his volunteer work at the gym. She knew that his voice needed to be heard, especially within the autism community where he would be a great example for children growing up on the spectrum. Gail connected the Preiser family with Autism Speaks and before you knew it, Brett was a headliner, performing at the Autism Speaks event in South Florida. And when he performs, he represents We Rock the Spectrum.

“[Gail] allowed him to spread his wings,” Jills says. “We are so grateful that a place like We Rock the Spectrum exists, not just for Brett but for all the families that need it.”

Brett and his parent, Jill and Scott, with We Rock the Spectrum, – Boca Raton owner, Gail Field (left) and WRTS CEO & Founder Dina Kimmel (right).

Brett still performs at We Rock the Spectrum – Boca parties and anniversaries, but with his newfound recognition, he’s also been booked for birthday parties, fundraisers, and private lessons.

“Music opens up a whole new world for him,” Jill says, “girls, friends, being around people — music gives him confidence.”

Through volunteering at We Rock the Spectrum – Boca, looking after the kids and giving music lessons, Brett discovered that he loved teaching and being a mentor. Today, Brett’s in college studying to be a music instructor, combining his love for teaching with his passion for music.

We are so proud of how far Brett has come and we know he will continue to shine.