Downside Up aims at creating a safe space for both adults and children with disabilities

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – Downside Up is a non profit organization that aims to create a safe space for both children and adults with disabilities.

What started as a weekend getaway camp for families of children with disabilities-has blossomed into a learning/activity center called training wheels—- and its on East 11th street.

“We all need training wheels at some point. We all need support to help us get where we are going,” says Theresa Nix, CEO and Founder of Downside Up Inc.

9 years ago CEO and Founder, Theresa Nix gave birth to her son Everette, who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

3 years ago, Nix decided to quit her teaching job to fully pursue her passion for creating a fun and safe environment for people with developmental conditions.

During the pandemic,  Nix realized the need for a place where families of children with disabilities could gather with other families like them and share ideas,  stories, and gain a stronger support system. 

“Especially right now with being alone during Covid, I feel like we need that support more than ever. We already feel with a child with disabilities that we are on an island. I feel like most of the time we are always trying to fit into a space , a place or a team. We want this to be a place for everyone,” says Nix.

At Training Wheels there’s something for everyone-a climbing wall, a dance floor, a toy library and a creativity room.

There’s even a coffee bar where parents can gather and relax into the likeness of their shared experiences.

“I think coming to a facility like this does open your eyes to how rewarding it can be and that you are not alone. You are with a group of common people that share the same heartaches but also the same joys,” says Paula Miller who’s daughter attends Training Wheels.

Paula Miller’s daughter attends Training Wheels which she says allows Ivy to truly be herself. 

“You’re children finding a friend where they are not singled out for being different. All they want is to be accepted and be loved by everyone. They have a lot of love to give and sometimes they don’t always receive that same love. She’s able to be herself,” says Miller. 

The organization plans a relaunch of their learning and play center this coming September. 

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