Today we’d like to introduce you to Lana Kharitonov.
Lana, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Hi! We are Eugene and Lana Kharitonov. We are a fun, energetic, and adventurous family and also love to spend time with our friends. We always look forward to the future with optimism and believe that everything happens for a reason.
Almost 15 years ago, we moved to Orange County from LA. We immediately fell in love with the area and realized that it would be the best place to raise our kids. After we had our daughter Elaine and son Daniel, our lives changed forever. They are both so much fun and make each and every day full of color! We love to have quality family time together, enjoy traveling, and we’re always looking for great places to visit. After becoming parents, we had a chance to realize that Orange County has a great potential for improvement.
For example, we noticed that the area lacked indoor playgrounds that could be fun and entertaining for kids, yet relaxing and enjoyable for parents at the same time. We learned about We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym through our close friends, who recently became owners of the another WRTS location in LA. They were very excited and told us so much about it that we decided to see if that’ something we could bring to Orange County. These gyms are designed as an all-inclusive place for kids of all abilities, and the equipment has been specifically chosen so that children with autism or special needs can benefit from using it.
The idea of a gym that is fun for typical kids and has a healing power for spectrum kids moved us deeply and touched both our hearts and minds. Over four and a half years that we had the gym, we’ve met thousands of wonderful families, celebrated hundreds of birthdays, made so many friends and happy childhood memories for the wonderful community of Orange County.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Some of the challenges that we had on a way were related to the fact that we knew very little about Special Needs community, and Autism. We started with reading books about autism, then we observed therapists during sessions at the gym, so over the years, we learned a lot.
Also, being a parent and running a business that’s open for seven days a week, turned to be harder than we imagined in the beginning. It was a huge adjustment for our family, but our kids love the gym so much that it turned into their second home. They come here not only to play, but also to help us, and they’re doing great.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym – what should we know?
We are not any indoor playground. We’re designed to be a place for ALL kids of all abilities. Our motto is “Finally a place where you never have to say I’m sorry”. Parents of special needs kids love that their kids aren’t judged for being different and they can be themselves here. Parents of neurotypical children like our all inclusion concept because they can teach their children acceptance and kindness while playing.
We Play With a Purpose! Playtime at the gym is exercising and stimulating any of the seven senses through positive physical, emotional, and social development. The development of the senses prepares children for how the world works. We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym has the specially designed sensory-safe equipment, toys, activities, and classes necessary to develop these important senses. We Rock the Spectrum is changing the way the world views sensory development for both neurotypical children and their peers with autism., and we are excited to be a part of that journey.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Dina Kimmel, the CEO, and Founder of WRTS Kid’s Gym. She was inspired by her children to create the first We Rock. Her son, Gabriel, was diagnosed with ASD, and she had a hard time to find a place where he can play along with his neurotypical sister Sophia. After being asked to leave from many indoor play places, Dina decided to create the place where she won’t have to say “I’m sorry” for her son’s behavior, where he and other special needs children will be accepted and not judged.
Our biggest supporters are our parents and children. They cheer for us every day, and there’s nobody in the entire Also, here in OC we got a big support from TACA (The Autism Community in Action) that loved our mission and helped us establish. They offer bi-monthly meetings at our gym to parents of special needs children, and we’re happy to be a part of it.
Our customers always supported us from the moment we opened four and a half years ago, and some of them are still coming on a regular basis.
- Open Play ranges from $20 to $10/visit
- Birthday Parties are $300- $400.
- Address: 23572 Moulton Parkway Ste 102
- Website: We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym ~ Laguna Hills
- Phone: 9493371049
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/werockthespectrumlagunahills/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WRTSLagunaHills/
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/we-rock-the-spectrum-kids-gym-laguna-woods-3
- Other: https://www.werockthespectrumlagunahills.com/
Photo credit: Kathleen Lantos-Cochrane, Kelly Goss