BRIGHAM CITY, Utah (News4Utah) - Kids with autism are bouncing their way to better behavior, thanks to a Utah-based trampoline company.
Data shows autism affects 1 in 68 children in the United States. In Utah, the statistic is 1 in 58. Despite thousands of books, websites, support groups, and other resources promising to help people on the spectrum, experts say one of the things research shows helps most is physical exercise.
"We have some kids who, one of their repetitive behaviors is jumping up and down, and so instead of them doing that, we redirect them to jump on the trampoline. It is helping them remain calm," said Julia Hood, Senior Director of Clinical Services for Valley Behavioral Health.
Brigham City trampoline company Skywalker Holdings jumped on the chance to help.
"We really feel strong about helping autistic children and their families," said Michael Colling, General Manager and Co-owner of Skywalker Holdings.
If calls to Skywalker customer service are any indication, Colling's goal of helping familes is working.
"People will call in with a special needs child and ask what trampoline would be the best for their child. Children with autism can be hyperactive, and getting that release through some sort of activity is very beneficial," said Kelli Arroyo, Internal Operations Manager of Skywalker Holdings.
Another part of helping families is safety. When Skywalker started more than a decade ago, only 20 percent of trampolines in the country had safety nets. Skywalker changed that with a patented enclosure which interlocks the net to the jump mat, eliminating gaps.
"We will only sell a trampoline with a safety enclosure, and we've done that from day one," Colling said.
Of course, its fun to jump on a trampoline, but in a 'why didn't I think of that' moment, Skywalker also has the patent for all kinds of games attached on the outside of trampolines. They have now expanded into soccer goals, geo domes, jungle jims, and teeter totters, and that has Box Elder County officials like Mitch Zundel jumping for economic joy.
"The volume that they did out of Brigham City is about half a million units," Zundel said.
Those units are now in back yards across the country, giving kids dealing with challenges of all kinds safe, constructive places to have fun and get some energy out.
"Skywalker Holdings is not just about retail and about selling their products. They give back to the community," Zundel said.
Whether it is spreading awareness through autism education or giving away free trampolines to families with kids with autism, Skywalker wants you to know there is hope.
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