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TNT Kid’s Fitness & Gymnastics Unlocks Gifts, Abilities

TNT Kid’s Fitness & Gymnastics

In the eyes of Executive Director Kim Pladson, every child is a gift just waiting to be unlocked through experience and exploring. That’s why TNT Kid’s Fitness & Gymnastics offers the perfect environment for all children of all abilities from ages 18 months to 18 years to be physically active as they explore the world around them.

TNT has focused on staff training so all programs and activities are suitable for children of varying ages and developmental abilities, and the organization has invested significantly in young professionals to help them prepare for the next step in their careers. “A young professional has to be just as fulfilled in their career as the children are within the program,” Pladson explained. “We focus on consistency and communication to empower our employees so they can provide the most valuable services to parents and children.”

TNT opened in July 2006 and served 134 families that year; today, the organization serves 1,600 children each week. Pladson believes that growth is a direct reflection of the focus on young professionals and the excitement they bring. “Our directors have a passion to help kids feel the best they can when they walk in the door,” she said.

Pladson created TNT’s programming with the help of parents, educators, donors, community partners and her own experience of being in a school system for 11 years where she saw a lack of physical fitness opportunities for children with special needs. TNT is only one of two facilities in the country to offer the programming it does.

TNT is able to maximize donor dollars by sharing its space with other organizations and only charging for its four programs, which include: Recreation, Fitness, Special Needs and Competitive (USA Gymnastics for boys and girls).

Programming revolves around the knowledge that brain development is acutely linked to physical activity. Directors tailor lesson plans to keep them consistent across all programs as well as age and ability appropriate. “We help kids problem solve in a way they will understand, and we use a lot of music to teach rhythm and movement,” Pladson explained.

TNT partners with 17 schools in the area to allow children with special needs the opportunity to engage in physical fitness. In addition, preschools and after-school programs use the space. The adult program begins in the afternoon and offers adults with special needs the same opportunity.

During the summer, TNT focuses on a camp-like setting where each week features a theme and gives children a chance to grow produce in the community garden, visit local swimming pools and prepare for the upcoming school year. Pladson said the wellness program TNT follows is modeled after the school’s so children can expect consistency whether at school or at TNT.

For Pladson, success does not rest in the growth of the organization but rather the impact it is having on the individuals it serves. A framed newspaper article about TNT hangs prominently in her office, and she beckons to the photo of an exuberant, wheelchair-bound young woman bouncing on a trampoline. “When I see this,” she said, her eyes misting over, “that is success for me. You don’t even have to put a word to it.”

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