4 Ways Play Tunnels Rock (And Why They’re Olivia’s Favorite)
When you come to We Rock the Spectrum Oklahoma City for open play or a birthday party, you might get a chance to meet Olivia. She is kind of our mascot! Olivia is our sweet 17-month-old daughter who has down syndrome. She is also the reason we get to run the gym and help other kids and families with special or regular needs grow and have fun.
Play Tunnels: Olivia’s Story
Out of all of the equipment and toys at the gym, Olivia’s favorite is definitely the tunnel—and she’s not alone! Many of the kids love both sizes of tunnels… maybe even the adults, too.
Something about the tunnel fascinated Olivia from the first moment she was in the gym. That was the first thing she ever played with, and she loves it just as much today.
In fact, the tunnel is what caused her to learn to crawl. She would start at one end and crawl through the tunnel to reach one of her parents or siblings–nothing else motivated her nearly as much! And since we have a small, colorful tunnel and a large, blue one, we have even more play options. Sometimes we will even crawl through the big one with Olivia on our back!
Reasons To Love The Tunnels
An Enclosed Space to Imagine
One reason Olivia loves the tunnels is that they give her an enclosed space. Many kids love the feeling of having a space like this—just think of all the forts you made as a kid! Having a tunnel also makes that space colorful and full of all kind of different textures.
Kids can pretend the tunnel is a rocketship, a cave, a castle, a secret hideout… anything. There is no limit to the ways our tunnels encourage kids of absolutely all sizes, ages, and abilities to use their imagination.
A Safe Place
When adults get overstimulated, they need a second away from all the chaos to close their eyes and breathe for a minute. It’s no different for kids. The tunnel provides a perfect place for them to sit for a minute without being stimulated by everything going on outside. It’s almost like a bubble—which is a dream come true for some of us!
That might sound like a crazy science term, but it basically means “the body’s ability to sense itself.” (From Brain Balance) Kids with academic, social, behavioral or sensory disorders sometimes have a difficult time understanding where their body is. Being in the tunnel is known to help kids grow their body awareness. In fact, occupational therapists often use tunnels for this exact reason.
Muscle Coordination And Balance
For kids working on proprioception, the activities in the tunnel will also encourage their large muscle coordination too. It’s hard to not make a game out of the tunnel. And you can’t play in a tunnel without using your muscles!
Olivia learning to crawl was a perfect example of how the right equipment can help kids grow. Getting to watching kids at We Rock The Spectrum have fun and reach milestones through play is amazing. We can’t wait to see what else you can do!