Disability SOS - Save Our Summer!

By Gympanzees

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*******Campaign Update*******

The Pop Up is over! We’ve had four incredible weeks of fun, fitness and friendship at the Summer Pop Up Gym run by us at Gympanzees. Thank you so, so much for your generous donations to our Crowdfunder – without you, the Pop Up wouldn’t have happened!

Below are some of our favourite highlights from the past month:

  • 98% of those attending didn’t know of anywhere else that compared to the Gympanzees Pop Up.
  • 99% of disabled children, their siblings and their parents had a great time at Gympanzees.
  • 93% of parents felt they were able to talk to other families - reducing their isolation.
  • A three year old boy enjoyed his first ever laugh on the trampolines.
  • One 6 year old child took 5 steps in her frame for the first time after coming to the Pop Up.
  • One parent said ‘There is a difference between children being tolerated and celebrated. Here our children are definitely celebrated’
  • Families travelled from as far as Braunton (North Devon), Reading and Worcester with one family making a holiday of it and staying in a hotel.
  • All 22 reviews on Facebook and Google were beaming 5 stars
  • BBC Radio Bristol’s video of us on Facebook has been viewed over 351,000 times worldwide! See it here

And much, much more!

Thanks to the Pop Up we now have the evidence to move forward. The next stages are:

  • Planning Pop Ups at Easter and Summer next year
  • Becoming a registered charity
  • Finalising plans for the main Gympanzees leisure centre and securing land and funding for it

We still need your support and generous fundraising in order to make the future Pop Ups a success and the main centre a reality. We are increasing our target by the £29,000 we need to run the next Pop Up at Easter. Our target is now £81,000! This is made up of:

£8,500 equipment costs - we want to have bigger rooms with more equipment so children can experience an even more fun-filled time.

£11,300 to pay for the AMAZING staff who made the first Pop Up such a success.

£9,200 for premisis and admin costs including renting the school, marketing costs, staff wages in setting up the Pop Up, insurance, setting up the cafe etc.

How you can help?

Please donate! Every penny brings us a step closer and is hugely appreciated by us and the thousands of children and families who will benefit,


We invite you to become one of our fabulous Fundraisers – and join our Crowdfunder team! We like to call this team our ‘true believers’. We’ve got 25 current Fundraisers who have been responsible for rallying the support and donations that have contributed toward the first Pop Up.
They have led events, such as the fabulous lunch led by Veronica which raised over £1,100 and the wonderful Ann-Marie Baker who is running not one, not two but THREE 1/2 marathons to fundraise for Gympanzees! Thinking of taking part in a challenge? Or are you a dab hand at baking? Why not make Gympanzees your dedicated cause! Just click on 'Create your Fundraiser Page' and follow the instructions and contact us at [email protected] for support and information.


******Campaign Update*******

We have reached our crowdfunding target of £43,000 in just 3 weeks (so a grand total of £60K)! This means the Pop Up is definitely happening!

See our video here

We are all absolutely thrilled and stunned by the support, not only for the Crowdfunding, but also for the Pop Up itself, with amazing feedback and sessions booking fast. We have therefore decided to run 2 more Pop Ups next year - one at Easter and one again in the summer, and continue to run them up until the main centre is up and running! We aren't just saving this summer - but every summer!

As we have such great momentum and still have 3 weeks left of our campaign, we have also decided to raise our target for the crowdfunding by £15K - to £58,000 (so a total of £75K). This extra will pay for:

£6000 - Buying equipment for the Pop Up rather than renting it - so we have it for the future Pop Up's.
£5000 - Staff costs to work on both the future Pop Ups and the main centre.
£4000 - Costs related to becoming a registered charity which, in the short term, will help get us further funding for the Pop Up's and the main centre (so we don't have to keep relying on your generosity!!)

Thankyou so much for your continued support!


Do you remember the summer holidays when you were young? Remember the endless days outside, playing with friends, going for a swim, playing football, monkeying around at the park? Summer was bliss!

There is a problem!

This isn't the case for Pip and Danny and their 2 children, Charlie and Millie. Charlie has Cerebral Palsy (brain damage), which affects his whole body. He spends most of his time in a wheelchair, he can't talk and is dependent on others for all his self-help skills including feeding, toileting and washing.

Charlie is also massively social and happy. He loves people and communicates through his computer and signing. He loves movement and exercise and asks to do his exercises every day. But the facilities to do this are non-existent in the community so all his equipment to help him get active has to be at home which means Charlie does them on his own.

Getting out and about for play and meeting friends is also hard. He can't access the park, soft play, sports clubs or swimming because of his physical difficulties. Play dates are tricky due to his care needs, and the options to go out and play with Millie (who he adores) are extremely limited.

Charlie is just one of almost a million children and young people with disabilities in the UK! And the fact is that 84% of children and young people with disabilities can't access regular leisure facilities so their health and well being, and that of their families, suffers.

What are we doing about it?

I run a physio practice for disabled children and have seen first hand the lack of opportunity, but also the huge benefit of exercise and play for children with all disabilities. I started working on a solution in 2016 and it didn't take long to gather a huge supporting network.

We are

and we have a plan!

We plan to open the UK's only, fully inclusive leisure centres around the country which will cater for the play, exercise and friendship needs of the million children and young people from 0-25 years old with disabilities in the UK.

The first centre will be in Bristol and will cater for the needs of the 58,000 disabled children and young people in the Bristol area.

But this has never been done before and will take 4 years before it opens. Families can't wait this long and we need to prove our concept and show there is the need for future investors. We are, therefore, running a 4 week pop up centre in Bristol this summer.

At the Pop Up, Charlie and Millie will be able to access and enjoy a soft play room, indoor playground, music room, trampolines, sensory room and gym together. They can play, laugh and get active in a safe and fully accesible environment. They will be doing exercise and getting healthy without even realising it. They will also be surrounded by other children to make friends and play with.

Pip and Danny can relax in the cafe, can meet others and pick up handy tips that only other parents with children with disabilities seem to know.

And we expect over 2000 visits from other children with their families over the 4 weeks.

The need is gigantic, the response has been electric and the results will be happier, healthier and more socially enriched children and families.

The Pop Up will provide the proof that Bristol and the UK NEEDS THIS.

Why we need to hit £43K and what we will do with your contribution.

We need £60,000 to set up and run the Pop Up. We have now received £17k in grants since January, some of which has been spent on:

  • Professional Fees: £1,200
  • Website and Marketing Fees: £1,750
  • Staff costs: £9,300
  • Office, fundraising, training costs: £450

but we still need £43,000 to continue setting up and running the Pop Up.

The £43K (+ £4,300 left from grants) will go on:

  • School rental and premisis costs: £5,500
  • Equipment costs including play and disability equipment: £13,500
  • Staff costs up until, and to run the Pop Up: £23,500
  • Insurance: £1100
  • Cafe: £3,700 But we really need YOU to help us get to our total.

What happens if we get more or less?

We would love to smash this total to show how much support and need there is for Gympanzees. This will provide valuable support for our bids for funding for the main Gympanzees Centres. Any extra funds in the short term will pay for the development of the Bristol Gympanzees Centre as well as running the Pop Up again next Summer and, hopefully, next Easter too.

If we don't reach our target the Pop Up just won't happen as planned, but with the amazing support we continue to receive, we don't believe it will come to this!

And here’s some amazing perks for supporting us that you can’t live without

As well as the incredible sense of fulfilment you will feel in being part of this project, you can also recieve a "perk" as a small thankyou for donating. Any donation over £50 can choose a smaller perk instead/ as well as your perk.

Please continue to read to find out about:

  • The benefits of exercise for those with disabilities
  • How the Pop Up will be run
  • Our future plans

Benefits of exercise


  • Increases strength and mobility leading to more independence
  • Reduces pain by strengthing muscles to protect overused and deformed joints
  • Reduces obesity (children with disabilities are twice as likely to be obese)
  • Improves sleep
  • Improved lung health which can increase life expectancy
  • Controls or slows progression of chronic disease


  • Social and psychological benefits from making friends and playing with others
  • Improved cognition
  • A reduction in challenging behaviours, improved concentration and participation for many with ASD, ADHD and sensory processing disorders
  • An increased release of endorphins helps with mental health problems

How will the Pop Up run?

The Gympanzees Pop Up Activity Centre will be held at Emerson’s Green Primary School for 4 weeks in August 2018. EGPS is a resource school – it has provision for children with disabilities to be fully integrated within the school. As such it is fully accessible for children with disabilities – with accessible parking, general disabled access and specialised toileting with hoists and changing beds. It will have hoists in each room and is purposefully well lit for children with visual impairments.

The Pop Up will have 5 indoor rooms-soft play, indoor playground, gym, music room and sensory room. It will also have trampolines and a cafe outside. Parents are responsible for their children but there will be staff to help out.

The Pop Up will be open 10am-4pm Monday-Friday from 30th July - 24th August. Each day will have four sessions with different combinations of:

*Gympanzees - mixed session for children and young people of all abilities and disabilities, with siblings and friends.
*Gorillas - for those loud, physical and challenging chimps that need to be ‘king of the jungle’ and have more fun when there are fewer rivals about (reduced numbers session).
*Leopards - for those that prefer space, quiet and more peaceful surroundings.
*Butterflies - beautiful but fragile, these sessions are for those that need to avoid any bangs and bumps.

Each group will have two different age groups (0-11yrs and 11-25yrs) except Gorillas who are just 11-25yrs. They will also be a mix of sibling and no sibling sessions. In this way, we hope to provide slots for everyone.

We will be keeping the numbers of visitors to between 15 children or young people with disabilities per session and up to 30 if siblings attend too, to keep the noise down.

Pricing Structure:
£6 Entry (£3 concessions)
£35 membership* - unlimited access over the 4 weeks
*Membership can only be purchased via the crowdfunding campaign

Our future plans

We have a big vision! We plan to open activity/ leisure centres across the UK to cater for all children and young people with disabilities. The first centre will be in Bristol. Please click here to read more about our vision and what we are planning.


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Team Members

Stephanie Wheen

Amira Battle

Caitlin McManus

Christine Sholto-Douglas

Lucy Hackett

Sarah Malbranche

Stephanie Wheen