The Importance of Inclusivity at Jump In
Tom is a wonderful addition to our Relaxed session team
Jump In Trampoline Park appointed frequent visitor Tom to help run their Relaxed sessions, after he showed a continued interest in the role.
But it marks a milestone for the 27-year-old Marden man who suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a rare severe form of epilepsy that has also left him with severe autism and learning and behavioural difficulties.
Although Tom had suffered with severe epilepsy since five months old, it was to be 15 years before his condition was given a proper diagnosis thanks to the work of a French paediatric psychiatrist Charlotte Dravet who discovered a rogue gene.
Tom’s mum Sue said: “Medication was controlling the seizures for a while but then it stopped working and they tried different medications, some of which made him worse. At one point he was on seven different medications and we came very close to losing him when he was about seven.
“It was a relief to get a diagnosis. Now the consultants know what medication to put them on because they know what works and what doesn’t.”
Sue and husband Adrian are now members of The Dravet UK Support Group and attend annual conferences in London or Liverpool to continue their education into the disease.
Regional manager Joe Upstone said: “He got to know the staff here very well and would come in with a big smile and greet us. He always asked questions like have you got any jobs and we’d say not at the moment but would keep coming back to it. So we wanted to give him a chance and thought the SEN session would be perfect for him because the session is already very inclusive.
He added: “I spoke to Tom’s parents who were more than happy to cooperate but asked us if we would go through the proper process. So we asked him along for an interview. He turned up smartly dressed and I asked him all the usual questions and he was able to give a good response. You could tell he really wanted the job.”
Tom now helps run the Wednesday SEN (Special Educational Needs) sessions paired with another member of staff and a carer in tow. Tasks include marshalling and checking wristbands and general duties but he also plays a role in overseeing the safe use of the trampolines.
Shane Kugthasan, who has been Tom’s carer for four years, said: “He knows the rules and knows what’s right and wrong and during the session he will assist customers and make sure everyone is sticking to the rules.
“He takes it quite seriously. If there’s any new faces on the staff he makes sure he tells them he’s the person running the shift which is quite funny.
“No one treats him any different and we’re grateful to Joe who went above and beyond what is expected. They are always catering to Tom’s needs. They get him.”
Sue added: “We are really grateful to Jump In. They have embraced Tom when it’s something they could have very easily shied away from because Tom can have his moments where he’s not on top form.
“This has given him an opportunity he might not have otherwise had. It normalises him. Tom doesn’t see himself as having any problems. He wants to be the same as everyone else and he wants to be able to have a job and this gives him real self esteem.”
Joe said: “It reminds me of why I decided to work in the leisure service industry. It is important that everyone should be able to use the trampoline park. It shows how much you can make a difference to an individual in so many ways.
The team have responded well and take it in their stride. It’s been a positive experience for everyone to be able to include Tom.”
“We are a place for everyone and don’t discriminate which fits our core values.”
SEN sessions at Jump In Trampoline Park in Tonbridge run between 5-6pm on Wednesdays and now also 9-10am on Sundays. Sessions cost £7. Further information can be found at: www.gojumpin.com/activities/trampoline-activities-for-additional-needs
Specialist Rebound Therapy can also form part of the inclusive relaxed sessions at Jump In parks, where those with special needs are encouraged to explore unassisted play with their families and carers in a safe, lower sensory environment.
Trampolines are key to this specific type of exercise therapy which benefits those across virtually the whole spectrum of disabilities. It has been proven to provide a huge number of potential therapeutic and physiological benefits, from cardio-respiratory, muscle tone and balance and posture through to perception and communication.
Benefits that are more specific to autism include: improvements in calmness, focus, concentration, eye contact, memory, following instructions, motivation, self-esteem, confidence, potential for learning across the curriculum, and happiness. Other benefits would be: reduction in tactile defensiveness, anxiety, agitation, shimming, rocking, self-harming, hitting, and anti-social behaviours.
Rebound Therapy-qualified instructors are on hand to work either one to one or in groups after a full assessment of needs is carried out.
Paul Kaye, CEO of ReboundTherapy.org (international body and training course provider for Rebound Therapy) said: “I am delighted to see so many trampoline parks introducing Rebound Therapy into their programme. By providing Rebound Therapy, trampoline parks are able to provide a much needed ‘fully inclusive’ service by offering sessions to learning disability care homes, special needs groups, schools and charity agencies and health groups.”
Such is their popularity, the Relaxed sessions have now also started running every Sunday morning and are free for carers.
Assessments for the Rebound Therapy-specific session, with a qualified Level 2 Rebound Therapy