Health and wellbeing

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000


There are over 1 million children and young people with disabilities in the UK. 84% of families cannot access regular leisure activities such as going to the park, swimming or playing football, and their health and well-being suffer as a result. Whole families are isolated with 72% of parents dealing with mental health difficulties due to isolation. Our vision is that every disabled child and young person in the UK will be able to enjoy a life filled with exercise, play and friendship, and their families will be taken out of isolation. We will deliver this by creating fully inclusive leisure centres that are easily accessible and cater for the needs of these children and young people as well as their families and friends.
We ran a temporary version of Gympanzees for 4 weeks this summer at a school in Bristol. The Gympanzees Pop Up was a pilot to test the model we have developed over the past 2 years with input from a variety of disability groups, parents, children and young people, healthcare professionals as well as business mentors. The Pop Up had 6 rooms that the families could use and each room was supported by an appropriately trained member of staff. The music room, sensory room, soft play room, indoor playground, gym and trampolines were accompanied by a café where families met up with others in similar circumstances and made new friendships. The sessions were restricted according to the age and needs of the children e.g. small numbers for those that get overwhelmed by large groups.
It was a great success! There were more than 1,100 bookings, with occupancy of sessions doubling in size from the first to the fourth week and 75% of all bookings were repeat bookings. 93% of parents felt they were able to talk to and socialise with other families, combatting the isolation they so often feel. Children were able to access equipment that made them active, “In an hour and a half he’s done more exercise than he would do in 10 weeks”. There were many first experiences for our families including a child sleeping all through the night after a session, and children playing together who have never interacted with children they didn’t know before.
Our review of the pop-ups outcomes proved that it successfully met these childrens' play, exercise and social needs, addressing 3 of the significant areas of disadvantage in this community.
Our future plans are three pronged. We will register with the Charity Commission to become a charity. We will continue to plan and develop the Gympanzees permanent centre, with similar facilities to the Pop Up but with additional specialized therapy rooms e.g. Physiotherapy, Speech Therapy and Counselling. We will also be running further Pop Up centres during school holidays.
These future Pop Ups will have 2 significant functions. Firstly, and most importantly, they will continue to provide the ‘best holidays ever’ for the children and their families but secondly, they will continue to test the design of the permanent Gympanzees centre, allowing trials of room sizes, equipment and much more. This will allow us to produce a centre that truly fits the needs and desires of this community.
Running further Pop Ups will cost c.£25,000 each time. We are generously supported by many volunteers but the costs of employing the appropriately qualified staff needed to run the centre as well as costs of hire of suitable premises are significant.
Gympanzees is an innovative idea. There is no other fully inclusive leisure centre in the UK that is specifically designed for and open to children and young adults with disabilities that they can attend with their friends, siblings and parents/carers. This funding will allow us to continue to support these families and enable them to have a place in the community they feel truly welcomed.

Project Video


Moment of Pride

It's an environment where a 3 year old laughed for the first time and a 6 year old took her first ever steps. Parents travelled up to 2.5 hours to visit us and commented "There is a difference between your children being tolerated and celebrated, but here it is so clear they are celebrated".

Location: Bristol