Photo by Hillary Ehlen
Featured photo: TNT Kid’s Fitness & Gymnastics‘ Executive Director Kim Pladson
With help from the Impact Foundation, we’ve broken up the numerous Fargo-Moorhead organizations into 12 categories. With more than 100 charitable organizations in the Fargo-Moorhead area alone, we know that you’ll come across an organization that tug at your heartstrings. Within the listings of local charities we’ve published, the organizations are split into subcategories that will make it easy for your charitable spirit to find its match. Here is our spotlight on the Disability Services & Resources nonprofits, featuring TNT Kid’s Fitness & Gymnastics.
TNT Kid’s Fitness & Gymnastics
2800 Main Ave., Fargo
At TNT Kid’s Fitness & Gymnastics, a lively child in a wheelchair and a child aspiring to be an Olympic gymnast can express themselves through movement side-by-side. This gym is a community for all.
“TNT, from the beginning, has been designed to offer a physical movement with an educational background to support children’s development, but also to include children of all abilities,” explained executive director Kim Pladson. “It’s geared to be inclusive and to have peers work side-by-side. The barriers are left at the door, because here, you’re just a child experiencing movement.”
Kim is the founding vision behind TNT Kid’s Fitness & Gymnastics. When she founded TNT in 2006, her goal was to have a facility that would include children of all abilities who would have a place to get up and move, any day or time they please. Kim said, “I spent 11 years in public school, and I always saw children in hallways doing physical activity, and it’s really at no fault of the schools; it’s more about having space and having the facility to accommodate them.” With the establishment of TNT, these children that were once playing in the hallways can now have a space to go that is dedicated to movement and playfulness. “We serve 36 schools on a weekly basis, with over 350 children with special needs, and every single child has a different need,” Kim shared.
Speaking from what she has seen in her years of experience with TNT, Kim said, “What happens is, if you see a child with a feeding tube or an oxygen tank or in a wheelchair, we already assume that they have this box that they live in. When they get to put all that away and they get to express themselves freely in a movement-based opportunity, everyone, their parents, the school, whoever it is, they will always say, ‘I never knew they could do that.'” By opening the possibility to children of all strengths and talents to be active and just be children, these kids are able to achieve all sorts of goals and landmarks that either they or their parents never thought possible.
Early on in the beginning years of TNT, Kim experienced a memorable moment, one of many she would see throughout the years: “A mom came running into my office and said ‘You need to come out to the gym right away.’ And at first I had a fearful feeling about it. Her daughter was in a wheelchair, and she is a very special individual. She didn’t have enough strength in her core and her neck to hold her head up, but jumping on the trampoline time after time after time built stability in her core and her neck. Her mom was in tears and she said, ‘For the first time, I’ve sat across the table eating dinner with her, and she could hold her head up and I could see her eye to eye.'”
Stories like this happen all the time at TNT thanks to the physical and emotional strength they teach. All children have goals they want to achieve. A child attempting to complete a double back in gymnastics doesn’t always have this skill come easily to him or her. “If you think about the scenario of a child trying and trying and trying to master a skill, and then that child watches a child in a wheelchair jumping on a trampoline in their chair, what do you think that dynamic is? This girl is over here trying to master her skill in tears, and she might have bad days, but the girl in tears is watching the girl in the wheelchair and thinking, ‘Wow, my life could be so different.'” Kim said. “It perpetuates an ‘I can’ attitude because the barriers are gone, and, at the end of the day, they are all children trying to accomplish whatever their best is. It’s a peer-to-peer thing.”
With more awareness of their mission and more people donating to their cause, TNT can continue to make an impact on children and help expand their breadth of abilities and compassion for one another.
“A third of our population are children, but they are 100 percent of our future. We need to plan for them and we need to find what their gifts are, and that’s what we are about here at TNT,” said Kim. The “I can” attitude that TNT instills in children prepares them to be our leaders of tomorrow with the confidence and strength to match.
From Executive Director, Kim Pladson
TNT Kid’s Fitness & Gymnastics is an organization that helps individuals of all abilities unlock their potential through movement. No matter what the ability level, every individual has the same opportunities at TNT. TNT does way more than just gymnastics and special needs. From infants learning how to roll over to senior citizens battling the effects of Parkinson’s Disease, TNT helps them overcome obstacles and break through barriers.
Giving Heart Day‘s Impact
Giving Hearts Day has perpetuated a movement to raise awareness and support organizations in their community. It specifically has allowed our organization to grow our programs, continue to purchase equipment that serves all abilities and maintain a professional staff to serve our diverse clientele. In 2011 we served 2,666 individuals; today we have served 10,681 throughout the year. Giving Hearts Day has inspired our organization to heighten our awareness of our mission, create many lasting relationships within its community and demonstrate the impact of each gift.
A Memorable Donor Story
One of the most magical and heartfelt experiences we can share with an individual that visits TNT is to give them a tour and experience first-hand the impact on the children we serve. One, in particular, was an individual watching a child with special needs come out of his wheelchair and have the ability to move with freedom. By watching, he realized their abilities and how each child craves movement. In conversation, he understood there was a financial barrier for the family to receive services weekly, and their visits were restricted due to financial hardships. His heart was captured by the joy in this child’s face; he made a gift that day to pay for the child to come to TNT weekly for a whole year!
What TNT Could Do With More Donations
TNT continues to grow because of the support of the community. As more donations come in, TNT is able to keep expanding our services to provide opportunities to a wider range of individuals by expanding programs and introducing new ones. One, in particular, is a partnership with the Fargo Police Department and Youthworks. This program introduced by the Fargo PD gives at-risk youth an opportunity to connect with positive role models during the summer months. This group visited TNT four days a week during the six-week camp. With more donations, we can ensure this program is available to more children in our community.
Long term goals are exciting. We want a mini-campaign to finish the construction of the TNT facility to include an allocated space for preschool programming. This is the largest growing population serving 800+ children each week and growing. There are approximately 6,000 square feet left to complete all spaces.
Progress has been felt in so many ways. An eight-year organization accomplished a $5.6 million dollar expansion with three onsite collaborative partners, record numbers being served, recruited and sustained professional staff, and our vision and mission aligning and threaded throughout our organization presenting a strong and unified team.
- $30 would cover the cost for one individual to take part in TNT‘s No Limits Fitness program for one month. This program gives adults with special needs an opportunity to work out with their peers at TNT.
- $60 would make it possible for an individual with special needs to receive two 30-minute therapy sessions per month.
More Disability Services & Resources in the FM Area
“This year at prom, a family’s son, with staff assistance, was able to stand for the first dance…more impactful, his mother cut in and had her first dance with her son. Nurturing Abilities, Changing Lives.” – Eric Wilkie, Chief Development Officer
“I have worked at CCRI for 20 years. In the beginning, everyone lived in apartments in one central location. Today, we have more than 30 homes spread throughout the community. We have also learned to celebrate the stories of the people we serve, the community that supports us and the families that rely on us! Instead of talking about services, we talk about people.” – Jody Hudson, Development Director
“This pursuit of person-centered excellence can be seen in the individual success stories at CHI Friendship. Whether it’s Lynn lighting his church’s candles for the 500th time, Brian receiving another Taekwondo belt or Gerald reuniting with his long-lost sisters after 62 years, people are achieving their goals and dreams every day.” – Grant Fogel
“Handi-Wheels serves a particular niche in the transportation needs of our community. We accept North Dakota Medical Assistance or Medicaid through the North Dakota Department of Human Services. We bill the state directly on behalf of qualifying passengers for rides to and from medical appointments. No other transportation agency in the Fargo-West Fargo area works as closely with Medicaid to break down the barrier of obtaining accessible and affordable transportation.” – Tonna Horsley, Executive Director
“One nonprofit that we greatly admire is the North Dakota Autism Center. We had the pleasure of working closely with them to create our Sensory Friendly programming, which aims to increase access to and inclusion in the arts for our community’s children and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders and other sensory, social and cognitive disabilities. Their team was incredibly helpful, ensuring that our team was well-educated and offering support at every step of the process. Their dedication to their mission and the people and families they serve inspires us to continue fighting for our mission and serving our community to the best of our ability.” – Eloise Breikjern, Fargo Moorhead Community Theatre
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