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Fundraiser For Permanent Gympanzees Gym For Disabled Children

August 19, 2022

A pop-up leisure centre for children with disabilities has launched a fundraising appeal to build a permanent base.

Physiotherapist Stephanie Wheen set up Gympanzees four years ago when she saw the lack of facilities in Bristol.

She said she gets “desperate calls” from parents asking them to run all year round.

“It can be the only time families leave their house over the summer holidays,” she said.

“So it is vital we get this open.”

Ms Wheen said they have had 2,200 children coming through the centre over 24 days this summer, with the equipment helping to develop co-ordination, core strength and sensory awareness.

Nine-year-old Isabella has cerebral palsy and cannot walk or speak but communicates using her eyes.

She said: “My favourite place to go is Gympanzees, I have lots of fun.”

Her mum Emma Louise, from north Somerset, said the facility allows Isabella to “have physio, play and exercise while having fun and being a typical child”.

“I can’t imagine being Isabella at 9-years-old sat in the play park or at my local soft play watching my peers play around me. It’s heartbreaking.

“Every child deserves the opportunity to have fun, play and exercise in a safe and welcoming environment and that’s something Gympanzees has in abundance,” she added.

Ms Wheen said parents are “desperate” for the facility to run year-round but “we just can’t because we need this enormous space to be able to run”.

They need to raise £2.2m to secure a building and equip the centre, believed to be the first of its kind in the UK.

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