The Tumble Fun Bus is not your average school bus. If you see the bright lime green bus rolling around town, chances are that somewhere in the metro, children are about to have some fun.
Lexington resident Shannon Shepardson, originally from North Dakota, has owned Tumble Fun Bus for 10 years. Shepardson has a master's degree in education and taught at the elementary and middle school levels for 18 years. She also coached gymnastics for 10 years.
Shepardson had a friend in Nevada who owned a similar business. She was inspired to start Tumble Fun Bus years later in Minnesota. “It's the perfect marriage of the two (education and gymnastics),” she said.
The full-sized school bus has been converted into a children's gymnastics center that comes right to your door. The walls and floors are padded for safety, and equipment includes a small gymnastics bar, padded beam, mini springboard, vault, rings, mountain climb, monkey bars, zip line, ball pit and more. The heated/air-conditioned bus rolls all over the metro year-round. “Every day it's a different place,” Shepardson said.
The bus typically does 30-minute visits, sometimes longer, at home day cares, day care centers, preschools and Montessori schools, as well as at special events, field trips and parties. The visits can be yearly, monthly, every other week or even weekly.
“This is a great way to keep kids physically active,” Shepardson explained. “It is such a great foundation for their balance, strength, their confidence.”
Nikki Calvin, owner of Natural Wonders Child Care in Lino Lakes, found out about the Tumble Fun Bus years ago on social media. For the past four years, the bus has visited her in-home day care every month.
“I like to give the kids extra experiences. Especially in the winter: it gets them outside, gets them active and gets them doing something new,” she said. “It is all about risk taking, and boosts their confidence as they keep growing their skills.” Calvin added that she has seen many of the children repeat the skills they practice on the bus on her outdoor playground.
At the end of the day, Shepardson said, she gets just as much joy out of seeing a child accomplish a skill as much as the child does.
Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or firstname.lastname@example.org