As the new general manager of Air Fun Trampoline Park, Raina Gardner has transformed the once struggling facility into an affordable child-centered, family-friendly atmosphere, making numerous adjustments to the business, particularly those that positively impact children with special needs.
Since her arrival in March, Raina has initiated extensive facility repairs including the improvement of ramps leading to the trampoline area, allowing individuals in wheelchairs the ability to safely get onto the flat, bouncy surface with ease.
Additionally, she changed the music, improved maintenance, and held a great deal of staff development and training, improving the safety of the space and how the staff acts and interacts with patrons.
“We’re very flexible and cater to different groups and the group’s needs,” says Raina. “We have great [staff members] here who are very engaging with whatever clientele we have. They’re really great at being versatile and interacting with the children and making sure they have an awesome time when they’re here.”
Raina took on the task of transforming Air Fun following more than 15 years serving as an operations and general manager in the healthcare industry, including time with a mental health agency. After her last place of employment shut down and the opportunity to lead Air Fun presented itself, Raina jumped at the chance.
She found taking on the challenge would allow her to combine her love for children with her skill set of running and maintaining businesses. She’d also be able to create an inclusive, welcoming place that would accommodate her friends from the mental health communities she remained in touch with.
“If that’s what I can provide then that’s what I can provide. It gives them a place to go where they’re not so confined by transportation issues and money issues. All of those things really debilitate what they can do in the community,” says Raina.
As part of her mission to renew the company and create a safe, energetic, and inclusive environment for children and families, Raina has actively partnered with various community stakeholders, including the police and fire departments, pediatricians, and local school systems. She also recently linked with WesCare Professional Services in conjunction with Mental Health Support Services and Special Hoops.
In July, Air Fun will serve as the location for the first ever First Fridays event, which takes place the “First Friday” of every month. During this occasion, children with intellectual and developmental disabilities will gather with members of AAU basketball team, the Greensboro Warriors, for a few hours of fun, engaging activities. It’s an extension of the annual Special Hoops 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament following a request from parents, caregivers and participants to hold similar experiences throughout the year.
Raina supports the mission of Special Hoops and the First Fridays event, to change how the broader community views and treats children with disabilities and create safe, inclusive spaces where they can get exercise, make friends, and have a good time.
“The lack of knowledge of individuals with disabilities is tremendous. They’re made fun of, they’re bullied, and this is one angle to me that [Special Hoops and First Fridays] tries to eliminate,” says Raina. “It’s not only educating people about disabilities but…getting [those with disabilities] comfortable in their own skin.”
Additional attractions at Air Fun include Neon Night on Friday nights after 6 p.m. where the trampoline area gets dark and disco balls and laser lights illuminate the space. Other activities include paintless paintball, archery tag, and an obstacle course.
Raina wants to get the message out that Air Fun Trampoline Park is a fun, safe place available “to people who traditionally wouldn’t have the opportunity to come here.” It’s a space open for all.
For more information about Air Fun Trampoline Park, visit the website.