RIVERSIDE, Mo. -- A 3-year-old Kansas City girl with autism attended her very first gymnastics class Wednesday night, just a few days after another area gymnastics studio turned her away.
After FOX 4’s first story aired Tuesday night, little Bella Crowe got several offers from other metro gymnastics studios that wanted to help.
By Wednesday evening, she was exuding excitement at EDGE Gymnastics in Riverside, Mo., joining in during their preschool program, Krazy Koalas.
Bella giggled often as she jumped on the trampoline, tumbled down a platform, and explored all corners of the gym.
EDGE welcomed her just a few days after Creative Arts Academy in Gladstone, Mo., told the little girl with autism to go elsewhere.
The owner, Pam Raisher, said her staff isn't properly trained to teach kids with special needs and she saw it as a safety concern.
Raisher later offered Bella a free trial, but Bella’s mom, Tia Crowe, said she still felt like her daughter wasn't really wanted there; and instead accepted an offer the next day from EDGE, which daily welcomes kids with all disabilities.
It seemed like the perfect fit.
“I’m overjoyed!” Tia said, “like seriously, it melts my heart to see her happy. I mean, it’s amazing! It`s nice to be welcomed and she`s enjoying it and this is what I set out to do.”
EDGE owner Gerri Laudie said her current students include a wide range of kids with disabilities, from autism to Down syndrome.
They’re welcome to attend classes with other children, or get extra help by bringing in a parent or healthcare worker.
“They`re kids just like every other kid,” Laudie said, “and they need to be able to be given the opportunity to do the same things that every other child has the opportunity to do.”
Laudie said gymnastics can be very beneficial for kids with disabilities by helping them develop a variety of social skills.
“They’re learning through the verbal commands of the coach,” she said, “so they’re learning to self-discipline, they’re learning how to cooperate with other children in a class, how to wait their turn, things like that.”
Bella joined several other kids her age for the class, and her mom pointed out she was able to follow all the same directions and do all the same exercises without any issues.
She plans to make it a weekly ritual.
For more information on classes and pricing at EDGE Gymnastics, click here.