VALDOSTA —Tiny Tots Tumbling Bus isn’t a bus that drives children around, it is a bus that children play in.
Loria Whitehead and her husband, Tripp Whitehead, bought into the business after the previous owners wanted to sell it, Loria said. She also worked for the previous owners.
“I loved it,” she said. “I worked the bus for a year. I loved working the bus and the kids. You kind of start to grow attached to them. It was originally (Tripp’s) idea. It’s so unique. There isn’t a tumble bus in this area.”
Buying the bus was an “investment,” Tripp said.
A tumble bus is a school bus that has been retrofitted to be a portable gym, Tripp said. It is a preschool appropriate mobile fitness facility that visits daycares.
The bus is set up for gymnastics, Loria said. There are tumbling mats, carpeted walls, a slide, climbing rope a balance beam, a ball pit and trampoline in the bus for the children to play on.
The bus is set up almost like an obstacle course for the children to run through, Tripp said.
The business works by partnering with local daycares to supplement the daily activity of children who sign up for the bus, Tripp said.
When the bus stops at a daycare, ten children at a time are let on the bus and go through predetermined curriculum that last 30 minutes, Loria said.
“First things first is they stretch, then they exercise, then a song and dance,” Tripp said. “We keep them busy all through class, then the last five minutes of class they get to play in the ball pit and stuff.”
The class is designed to keep the children busy all through out the session, Tripp said.
“It’s the whole basis of the business,” he said. “Parents want to get their children exercise and teach their children basic gymnastics to strengthen their motor skills.”
Loria said she changes the curriculum about every month.
The bus is separate from the daycares, Loria said. The bus partners with daycares to offer its services.
“The daycares lets us in,” she said. “The daycare has nothing to do with the tumble bus. We deal strictly with the parents when it comes to money.”
Since buying the business, the couple has updated the bus and grown the business, Tripp said.
For the bus, the two updated the sound system, added an auxiliary port for iPods, done mechanical updates, updated the lights in the bus with LEDs, added carpeted walls for children’s safety, painted the rock wall and added vinyl stars and pegs and added a climbing rope, Tripp said.
The couple added a few new daycares to the ones it serviced under previous management.
“We currently work with Josiah Christian School, Perimeter Early Learning Center, Kids Depot, Oakwood, Brookfield, Bemiss Academy, Little Einsteins, Bright Start one and three, and Precious Treasures and Bright Horizon,” Loria said.
The bus has also increased the number of children it serves from 80 to 120, Loria said.
And while more students means more money for the business, Tripp is wary of growing too quickly.
“We want to grow, but we don’t want to sacrifice what we are doing for our current daycares,” he said. “… We aren’t going to sacrifice quality for quantity.”
Along with daycares, Tiny Tots Tumbling Bus travels to festivals, open houses and birthday parties.
For fall festivals and open houses, the bus comes out and sets up and offers free play for children, Loria said.
“For daycares we service there is no charge for the bus to come out for a festival or open house; however, for daycares that would like for the bus to come out but the company does not service there is a charge similar to a birthday party,” Tripp said.
For birthday parties there are three different packages that range from 60-90 minutes, Loria said.
The parties are free play, but children that have been on the bus before have asked for music and dance time, she said.
“There is typically no curriculum for birthday parties, however, if children or the parents would like a curriculum, the instructor can facilitate that,” Loria said.
The bus will also do parties for children who do not regularly use the bus, Tripp said.
All packages include a facilitator to watch the children.
Tiny Tots Tumbling Bus. is open 9 a.m.- noon Tuesday through Friday. However times fluctuate depending on business needs. The bus is also used for special events and will run on the weekends as needed. The business does not have a physical location.
The bus does not have any seats for passengers and cannot transport children.
For more information, call (229) 415-5062 or visit tttbus.com.
Jason Smith is a reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times. He can be contacted at 229-244-3400 ext.1257.