Dina Kimmel – CEO and Founder of We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym
During her college years, Dina studied business marketing and accounting. She has always been an entrepreneur, and even opened and ran her own successful retail stores for more than 17 years. When her son, Gabriel, was diagnosed with autism, she knew she had to change her life dramatically. She began working one-on-one with her son, seeking out the best treatments in speech, occupational, and behavioral therapies. Her extensive research into ASD led to a better understanding of the nutrition needs of children on the spectrum, which led to a discovery that Gabriel was gluten intolerant. To better support Gabriel, her passions, and her entrepreneurial spirit, Dina got to work opening the first sensory-safe gym of its kind.
We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym in Tarzana, California saw instant success with the special needs community. On the wall of her gym, Dina put the motto “Finally a place where you never have to say I’m sorry!” This message continues to resonate with parents of special needs children all over the world. Dina’s aim was to provide a safe, nurturing, and fun environment where children of all abilities could play and grow together. Her mission of full inclusion has now become a global movement.
After receiving overwhelming support, Dina decided to franchise her idea. In the beginning of 2014, Gail Field, an autism mom in Boca Raton, Florida, signed on as the first franchisee. From there, more autism moms, advocates, and therapists reached out to learn how they too could bring We Rock the Spectrum to their home communities. In 2016, Dina’s vision of an international expansion became a reality with the opening of We Rock the Spectrum – Ara Damansara in Malaysia. She also created a franchisee model with a lower cost entry, sensory bus division called “We Rock on Wheels.” This concept allows franchisees to bring sensory play directly to customers.
Dina’s passion for working with children with severe disabilities is what led her to share her idea for We Rock the Spectrum with the world, but also what motivates her to donate much of her free time to advocating for them and their parents and families. As her franchise continues to grow, her mission stays the same: to create safe, inclusive, and constructive environments for children of all abilities. Dina continues to be the voice for those in need. Originally she thought she was going to be the mother of two children, but today she says she feels much more like a mother figure and advocate for the whole of her Tarzana community, as well as worldwide.
Dina resides in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. She has been featured on NBC and CBS news, the Huffington Post, The Franchise Times, LA Parent, and Autism Live. She was the 2014 recipient of The Comerica Bank Women of Entrepreneurship Award, given to her by the LA Lakers. We Rock the Spectrum was nominated for San Fernando Valley Business Journal’s Business of the Year Award and was the recipient of the United Chambers of Commerce Small Business Award. In 2016, Dina was honored at the San Fernando Business Journal’s Women in Business awards and the Los Angeles Business Journal’s Women’s Summit awards.