HIGH POINT — A recreational facility designed with children with disabilities in mind is close to opening its doors.
The finishing touches are still being put on Q's Corner, a sensory-based gym and play place at 1800 N. Main St., but owner Candace Humphrey said she hopes to open for business soon.
"It's definitely been a long time in the making," Humphrey said Monday.
Humphrey is married to William Hayes, a former Andrews High School and Winston-Salem State football star who retired from the NFL after the 2018 season. The two traveled often during Hayes' time in the NFL but returned to High Point following his career. Humphrey said she always knew she wanted to bring something to the city.
The idea of starting a gym for children with disabilities first crossed her mind while taking Quintin, her now 9-year-old son, to a trampoline park. Quintin, who has autism, liked to lie on the trampolines.
"The staff really got onto him about getting up and not doing certain things," Humphrey said. She understood that the park had safety protocols to follow, but she was shocked that the employees didn't realize he had autism.
"They would talk at him and blow the whistle at him, and I though that was a bit aggressive."
She said she wanted to take her son, for whom the gym is named, to a place where staff recognizes that not every child is the same. She talked it over with her husband.
"When I brought the idea to him, he just nurtured it, and we worked on it together," Humphrey said.
The COVID-19 pandemic slowed their plans, but they're nearing the final stages before welcoming families to Q's Corner.
Housed in the two-story building converted from an old garage are several play stations and rooms, all designed with different needs in mind.
"We just went down the list of different disabilities," Humphrey said. "From there, we just researched our equipment."
Upstairs, which can be accessed by an elevator or stairs, kids can do hands-on activities, such as arts and crafts, air hockey, dress-up and video games.
An area on the main floor features a variety of swings, including one that can hold a wheelchair and another designed for children who are paralyzed or have spinal problems.
Humphrey said that even though Q's Corner is designed for kids with disabilities, those without are also welcome.
"The 'typical-functioning' kid — they get access to equipment they wouldn't normally see."
Humphrey said there is a three-hour time limit for guests. She's considered the idea of selling memberships, but for the time being, it will be "pay as you go," she said. According to the facility's website, a daily pass will cost $11 for children between 1 and 3 years old and $22 for children 4 and older.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Humphrey asks that everyone wear a mask at Q's Corner, especially the parents. She said she knows it can be a challenge to keep masks on children — even more so for those with a disability — but asks that everyone just do the best they can.
Signs across the facility encourage social distancing and Humphrey said they plan to limit the occupancy in the building to 25. Between play, areas will be sanitized by staff.
The size of the place will allow customers to spread out and head into different rooms.
Several rooms offer sensory-stimulating lights, sounds and textures. The equipment at Q's Corner is similar to that used in therapy for children with disabilities, but it's used recreationally at the gym.
One of the sensory rooms provides a 360-degree virtual experience.
During a soft opening Humphrey held for a small group a couple of weeks ago, she said one father was nearly moved to tears after his son spent more than half an hour in the virtual experience room.