OUR mission

Positively impact the lives of children and young adults through Learning Enriched Athletic Programs.

It is widely agreed that engaging in sports and fitness programs not only promotes physical and health benefits, but also encourages cognitive development, personal skill development, and social development.

LEAP South Florida offers a variety of structured athletic programs which focus on the athlete's total development. What makes LEAP unique is, in addition to the physical development, the emphasis placed on the cognitive, emotional, behavioral and social development components. Our Fundamental Skill Development program is specifically structured to meet the needs of total development. Within any one of our athletic programs, you will observe our athletes strengthening and developing their specific physical set along with the integration of aspects from our Fundamental Skill Development program.

Each of these elements is vital when participating in a group sports setting as well as life settings going forward. Our goal is for our athletes to take the lessons learned and skills developed through athletics and apply them to their everyday lives! 


Special needs program

Over the last fifteen years, the number of developmental disability diagnoses across the United States has risen 17.1%, which translate to an estimated 1.8 million. The subsequent demand for assistive therapies and programs has similarly increased. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral therapy and speech therapy are now essential modalities in treatment plans to meet the needs these individuals face on a daily basis. However, the missing piece in this movement is the formation of recreational physical activities designed purposely for developmentally disabled individuals which support these therapies.

From day one, LEAP has been dedicated to meeting the need of recreational physical activities greatly needed by special needs children and young adults. The same benefits recreational activities are more evident, and frequently overlooked within the developmentally disabled population.

LEAP’s approach to special needs athletics emphasizes the social, behavioral, emotional and cognitive development, in a fun and exciting environment that targets the physical development. By offering a variety of both private and small group classes, LEAP is able to maintain the fun and excitement that surrounds athletic programs while also creating an environment to meet the specific, individual needs of each and every one of our athletes. The use of private classes are an essential step in building a solid foundation for total development within the gym, as well as a crucial step for creating a personal relationship between the athlete and coach. Small group classes create greater opportunities for independent work and socialization, while still allowing the continuation of specialized focus and training in areas of developmental weakness. The progression from private classes through small groups results in a more efficient and effective transition into larger mainstreamed settings, which ultimately bridges the gap so very often seen in other athletic programs.  



Lauren Petrick, MS

Founder, Athletic Program Coordinator, Athletic Program Director, Coach

Lauren created LEAP South Florida as a way to combine her three passions: gymnastics, business and psychology. Lauren’s participation in gymnastics as an athlete and coach spans 20+ years, including her work with Special Needs athletics and gymnastics which began seven years ago. Specializing in fundamental athletic development and gymnastics programs, Lauren has worked with a wide variety of athletes from preschool to recreational and competitive programs including special needs individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Fragile X Syndrome, Down syndrome, ADD/ADHD, Cerebral Palsy and other various developmental and physical delays.

Additionally, Lauren is currently a USA Gymnastics Professional Member and proudly supports the Special Olympics Miami-Dade County Gymnastics program. Her engagement in the SOMDC Gymnastics program includes organizing and coaching local training sessions and competition to participating in and taking athletes to the state competition. The SOMDC gymnastics program had been inactive for many years, when Lauren revived it just over seven years ago. Since then, the program has grown to involve over 80 athletes across Miami-Dade County for training and the local competition and now has expanded to include Rhythmic Gymnastics. SOMDC has had such a demand for gymnastics, that a year round training and competitive program had been made.

As Lauren’s focus on fundamental athletic development, athlete total development and Special Needs athletics grew, she eagerly enrolled and graduated from FIU’s Behavior Analysis Master’s Program. Her advanced psychology degree not only influences the training of every single athlete that comes through the door, but also compliments her Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from UF in the everyday functions of LEAP. As LEAP South Florida continues to grow, it is Laurens goal to expand the LEAP program to include a variety of different sports and to provide these opportunities to those who are underprivileged through fundraising and scholarship programs.