By Jennifer Fama
Special to the Post-Chronicle
HAMDEN — Twenty-five years ago Steve Schulefand was doing a children’s theater production of Robin Hood when he decided he liked the reactions of the kids so much that he wanted to do more for children. That and the birth of his first child led to the decision of opening Rascals Gym. Now, it’s 25 years later and kids are still benefiting from that decision.
As a parent, I know it can be tough thinking of new and exciting ways to entertain your children. Rascals Gym can be a big help in this respect. Owner, Steve Schulefand has created a space where kids can feel comfortable and enjoy themselves, while parents get the satisfaction of knowing their kids are in a good social environment.
Schulefand takes great pride in his gym and strives to keep it new and fresh by changing the equipment around every week to avoid any boredom with the apparatus. “My main goal is for the kids to have a good time,” said Schulefand. It is apparent in the faces of the kids that he has accomplished this goal.
My own son, Mossimo attended classes here and while he was shy and timid at first, he had so much fun that he definitely started opening up more and more each week. Steve and the staff at Rascals helped with this too. They never push the kids to do more than they are ready for, but rather keep the invitation always open to engage in the activities with no pressure. Parents are also directly involved based on the age range of the class your child is in.
The classes range from 6 to 15 kids and all have a structure to them. For example, the younger kids will begin with circle time, warm up to music, have a little free play time, and then get to enjoy the different rides that come out each class. The classes for the older kids will incorporate some fine motor skills work and obstacle courses. All classes are non-competitive in nature, allowing children to enjoy themselves at their own pace.
Rascals also finds it important to give back to the community. They are currently involved with Toys for Tots and have been involved with other charities such as Read to Grow and the New Haven Diaper Bank. If you are looking for a wonderful local place to bring your child to get some socialization and purposeful play at a reasonable price, this is it.
Rascals Gym is located at 1647 Whitney Avenue. For more information call 203-288-6552 or visit www.rascalsgym.com. know if you’re faking it ohere wasn’t any place for a kid to just be a kid, just for them to run around and be themselves,” Schulefand said.