Gymnastics facility is creating programs for kids with special needs.
Writer / Heather Chastain
A Hendricks County gymnastics facility is making a difference in the lives of kids with special needs. The Flip Zone in Plainfield, in conjunction with Special Olympics Indiana, has created programs designed to help those with autism, cerebral palsy and down syndrome.
Owner Stephanie Strout says working with the Special Olympics was important to her.
“Gymnastics used to be a big part of the Special Olympics and it kind of died off, so I wanted to help bring it back,” she says.
The students participate in rhythmic gymnastics. Students use ribbons, hoops and balls in a floor routine. Currently, they have nine girls enrolled in their program.
“We’ve learned a lot about how we can help these children, and you get goosebumps when you work with them,” Strout says.
Beth Schweigel, with Special Olympics Indiana, says working with Stephanie and the Flip Zone was an obvious choice for their organization.
“Stephanie and The Flip Zone have always been big supporters of special needs and have often given a portion of the profits from their Flip Events to various special needs organizations,” Schweigel says. “Stephanie and her staff are awesome to work with and have done a lot of great things for the special needs students and athletes that they work with. We are very fortunate to have them working with our athletes for Special Olympics.”
In February, The Flip Zone hosted an event called Flip for a Cause. That event raised $1,000 for Special Olympics Indiana.
However, gymnastics isn’t just for girls. Strout says she enjoys working with boys too. Her son, who plays football, takes gymnastics classes. Strout says she can see the difference in his agility on the playing field.
They also have ninja warrior competitions for kids.
“We want to get kids off the couch,” Strout says. “We have programs for every level of child and fitness ability.”
The Flip Zone also has a competitive gymnastics program led by Irving Noches. Strout calls him, “the best kept secret in Indiana.”
Noches was the National Team Director in El Salvador. He approached Strout two years ago about coaching at her facility, and Strout immediately got to work. She hired an immigration attorney, contacted USA Gymnastics, and had coaches from all over the country write letters of support.
“He got his approval to come to the U.S. in one week,” Strout says proudly. “We had our first national qualifier and it had everything to do with him and the coaching and programs he designed.”
Community involvement is a high priority of Strout’s as well. She hosts field trips and birthday parties regularly at The Flip Zone. They are also going to have their eleventh annual community day on Saturday, July 15. The event is called “Flip into Fitness.” It’s a free event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
There will be demonstrations and open gym for gymnastics. You can also expect food, vendors and the fire and police departments on site to talk to the kids. Businesses interested in participating in the event should contact Strout by calling 317-838-0667.