Lisa Audi has just launched Bring on the Spectrum, a nonprofit organization with community space and sensory gym for neurodiverse individuals of all ages and abilities, and their families.
The 6,000 square-foot space on Fuller Road includes sensory gym and community space, party room, and learning resources and offers social, recreational, and lifestyle activities.
The sensory gym features two spaces, one for children and one for teens/adults, complete with slides, swings, climbers, and games. There is also a shared sensory room to help individuals feel calm and supported.
Audi is a graduate of the Community Loan Fund’s 8-Week Business Planning Course. “The Community Loan Fund was the seed that helped my establishment grow,” Audi says. Audi, a marketing and public relations professional, says she learned a great deal from the course, especially when it came to granular issues that impact a business’s day-to-day operations. While Audi had a great deal of her business plan assembled when she entered the course, she was surprised by how much the course covered. She says she found herself taking lots of good notes, and always came away from the workshops with something more to think about or investigate. “Being part of the program was part of the journey that is about to come to fruition,” she says.
In addition to the sensory gym, Bring on the Spectrum also features a large community space where individuals and families can attend classes, workshops or hold meetings. The main community room is equipped with three flatscreen TVs with tables and chairs available to provide flexibility between art and Zumba classes. Audi is hopeful that events like movie nights will be community-led. She emphasized that she is open to any ideas people have. “The Community Space will be reflective of what the community wants. You help decide what we do,” she said.
Audi is committed to hiring neurodiverse individuals at the center. “A national advocacy group estimates 500,000 teens with autism will reach adulthood over the next 10 years. Yet nearly half of 25-year-olds with the disorder have never held a paying job,” she says.
Bring on the Spectrum will continue its mission to be reflective and supportive of what the community needs and wants.
“It is the community’s space. And while we work with our collaborative partners to address issues like employment, we also know that is not where all individuals are,” Audi says. “So part of what makes this space great, is it meets you where you are. And if you leave with a smile, mission accomplished.”