Help us give ALL kids a place to enjoy gymnastics and sports!
Tumbling to a better tomorrow!
for joining us on this adventure, and please enjoy our story that is full of
flips, fun, and friendship. Our athletes hold a meaningful place in our hearts,
and we hope that we can show the world just how special they are.
Balance 180 Brags
Balance 180 highlighted in collection of great special needs groups and activities
Balance 180 is so grateful and honored to have been selected as a tops special needs activity by PhDinSpecialEducation.com! The full list of all 101 special needs activities can be found here. Be sure to check out #46!
Fall 2013 Culminating Event another success!
Balance 180 had another great Culminating Event for the Fall 2013 session of one of our programs for children with special needs. We are appreciative for our GTN News feature by Briana Harper, following the event. Check out the story and video here!
Athletes featured in article in Home magazine
Be sure to check out pages 118-121 in Home: Living in the Heart of Florida magazine's December 2013/January 2014 for a great article by Chris Eversole on Balance 180.
What is Balance 180?
Balance 180 is a non-profit organization in Gainesville, Florida. Our mission is to develop a new model for recreational and competitive sports within our community that serves children and young people with varying abilities and needs. Our goal is to give all children an opportunity to participate in sports, while encouraging them to learn and grow to realize their unique potential. We strive to serve the whole child, recognizing that kids benefit from lots of encouragement, a positive environment and opportunities to succeed.
How did it all begin?
“Is there a place where children who are less coordinated or that have a disability can enjoy gymnastics and benefit from the physical activity?” That was co-founders Krista Vandenborne’s and Carsten Schmalfuss’ question. As health care professionals with daughters who participated in competitive gymnastics, they recognized something was missing and were determined to do something about it. In their view, children needed a place where they could receive the support to excel and enjoy sports, regardless of their ability. From this need came Balance 180, a place where children can learn gymnastics skills, make new friends, and feel a sense of belonging. With a generous community and a large number of students and health professionals, Gainesville, Florida has allowed us to create a unique program that benefits children with varying abilities.
What happens at Balance 180 and what has been accomplished
in the first year?
Balance 180 is an exciting place, which offers both recreational and adaptive gymnastics classes for kids ages 2 to 14 years old. Each class is staffed with positive, energetic coaches and volunteers that can provide assistance where needed. The kids learn forward rolls, handstands, cartwheels, pullovers on bars, and many more traditional gymnastics skills. In just over one year, we have grown from serving 14 athletes to almost 150. This growth indicates that the need for a program like Balance 180 exists. One appreciative parent commented: "These classes are an amazing asset to the special needs community."
This past summer we also offered the first inclusive gymnastics camp in Alachua County, integrating children with and without disabilities. The camp was a tremendous success and we all had lots of fun. Gymnastics classes were supplemented with art projects, dancing and games. All of the kids exercised and played together, and warming-up and stretching quickly became a group activity they looked forward to. And of course there was snack-time, a time for everybody to relax and share stories. For many of our athletes this was their first camp EVER, and what an experience it was! One of the parents of a young boy with Down Syndrome sent us a grateful email after camp which read: “I am so excited that my son had an active 3 weeks that kept him exercising.”
Who are all of our wonderful
One cannot think of Balance 180 without reflecting on the dedication of our amazing volunteers. Our volunteer base ranges from 100 to 120 volunteers each semester, and they have cumulatively logged over 5,000 hours of service. Most of the volunteers are students committed to a career in education or health care and they appreciate the experience of working with our young athletes. We are proud of the training we provide to our volunteers and hope they take the lessons and memories into their future endeavors. All of our volunteers are wonderful young people focused on creating a positive environment to support our athletes and help them thrive, independent of their ability.
What is the adaptive gymnastics class
and how is it different?
In the adaptive gymnastics classes, the curriculum and lesson plans are adapted to each child’s specific needs. The athletes learn skills on vault, bars, beam, and floor with the assistance of one or two dedicated volunteers. The focus is on ensuring the athletes can be successful in each of the activities. The gym often gets filled with a lot of cheering and encouragement. A parent recently commented that for her child, “Coming to the gym for one hour makes her entire week.” Our goal is to ensure each child realizes they are special, that we care, and that together with us they can always learn new skills. Our athletes and volunteers laugh, play, exercise, and have fun together each week.
What are the benefits of gymnastics?
Physical education programs can significantly improve the lifestyle of a child with disabilities. In addition to guarding against obesity and promoting an active lifestyle, physical activity improves a child's motivation and self-image. Sports like gymnastics help a child build important motor skills, core strength, balance and coordination, but it is also a wonderful way to learn how to follow directions, focus, and build social skills. The athletes learn from our coaches and volunteers, but they learn even more from interacting with their peers.
The less tangible benefits from our program include the sense of accomplishment each child experiences when they learn something new. At the end of each class, the athletes are rewarded with star stickers on a chart that tracks their mastery of new skills, which can range from somersaults to walking on a balance beam. The gym is always full of positive energy with cheers, hugs, and high fives. Our goal is to make sure that each child knows that we care!
Where do we see ourselves in the future?
Today we serve about 150 kids in the Gainesville community, about 60 of which have special needs. This is a small portion of the kids that could eventually benefit from our programs. Through our fundraising efforts, we hope to accommodate many more kids and provide additional scholarships for athletes who need financial assistance. We hope to expand and advance our classes, and offer summer camp to a larger group of kids.
Balance 180, its coaches, and volunteers have a lot of heart, passion, and expertise; however, there is SO MUCH MORE we can accomplish with your support! Our vision is to offer our services five days a week and have kids exercise side by side, independent of their ability, cheering each other on when they learn and accomplish new skills. ALL kids need to feel empowered with a sense of success and accomplishment, and enjoy the opportunity to create lasting friendships.
What can you do to help?
Balance 180 does not receive any federal or state support, so we are highly dependent on the generosity of individual donations and corporate sponsorships. As part of this campaign, our goal is to raise at least $15,000, which will go towards covering some of our expenses such as:
of our practice facility
Fans to keep the gym cool...We don't have AC
and Florida gets HOT!
Equipment: Safety mats, high beams, bars, etc.
Apparel: shorts, t-shirts, and leotards
Transportation to field trips during summer
Intern and coach stipends
to raise community awareness
of volunteers and interns
Scholarships are our top priority to ensure
that no child is left out due to financial restraints. Our low monthly tuition
cost can still be too expensive for some families as many are dealing with
significant medical expenses.
Your contribution is not just a donation, it is an investment in the future of our children and our community. No matter how small or how large the gift, your generosity will have a tremendous impact on the life of a child. Please join us in making a difference!
Please note: When you donate, your receipt will say "Jordan Klausner Foundation". The Jordan Klausner Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3) organization, is the fiscal sponsor of Balance 180 Gymnastics & Sports Academy, a non-profit corporation in the State of Florida. Donations to Balance 180 Gymnastics & Sports Academy via the Jordan Klausner Foundation are tax-deductible.
How else can you
While your donation is certainly appreciated to help us grow and run our programs, there is another way you can have an impact. Please help us share our story and campaign with your friends, families, and coworkers and direct them to this Indiegogo Campaign. Also, please share our video to help us get the word out about our incredible athletes. Sharing our story will increase our chances of reaching our goal and offering our program to the kids who need it the most.
Finally, be sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook for updates on our athletes and our progress towards our fundraising goal! Thank YOU for making a difference, and supporting Balance 180 and our athletes.