Joggling boards hardly need an introduction. This Lowcountry staple has been a fixture on local front porches for centuries. It began as a home remedy for rheumatism—bouncing on the long board provided gentle exercise for aching joints. More recently, joggling boards are helping children with autism for much the same reason—the rocking and bouncing motion tends to be beneficial for the body and mind.
When The Joggle Factory got wind of this, founders Kristi and Chris Outland jumped at the chance to partner with local organization the Lowcountry Autism Foundation (LAF), first by donating a few joggling boards.
“My husband and I both came from medical backgrounds, so we have this innate need to help people,” says Kristi Outland, who founded The Joggle Factory with her husband 11 years ago. She was a dietician and he was an EMT before they pivoted careers to open their business.
The proof was in the pudding—or video, in this case. Sophia Townes, the Beaufort County program coordinator at LAF, sent Outland a video of her son, who is on the spectrum, being rocked by his behavioral therapist on a joggling board that The Joggle Factory donated.
“You could see his anxiety wash away within seconds,” Outland says. “It was super heartwarming to see—we actually teared up when we watched it.”
Now, The Joggle Factory donates a portion of its sales of children-sized joggling boards and LAF T-shirts to the foundation.
“Kristi and her family are the most special people who help those in need in our community,” says Kat Bodkin, the executive director at LAF. “So many of our kiddos with autism spectrum disorder have sensory issues and finding ways to calm their bodies is always a wonderful thing. We are beyond blessed to have friends like The Joggle Factory.”
The Joggle Factory also donated a board to a benefit auction hosted by Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding (CATR), a nonprofit that provides horsemanship activities for children and adults with disabilities. This board ended up helping another child who is on the spectrum.
“The family who won this joggling board at auction has sent us multiple letters saying how much it helps their 12-year-old,” Outland relates. “He lays on the joggling board and sways back and forth. It calms him so much.”
Local teachers have gotten on board (pun intended) and began asking for joggling boards in their classrooms. “They’ve found that it’s really helpful for the kids who are fidgety,” Outland says.
Interestingly, children aren’t the only ones The Joggle Factory is helping. Much of its T-shirt proceeds are returned to Turning Leaf, a screen-printing organization that supports people who have been released from prison. Turning Leaf helps former inmates avoid becoming part of the 67% recidivism statistic by providing them with short-term employment in the T-shirt shop, group therapy, one-on-one counseling and long-term career placement in a job with a living wage and benefits. The program has a 78% success rate.
The Joggle Factory’s inclination to gift its boards and proceeds makes sense considering the company began in earnest as a gift from a man to his bride to remind her of their wonderful wedding week.
As Outland tells it, the couple’s wedding party, including bridesmaids and groomsmen, rented a house on Edisto Island for the week leading up to their wedding. There was a 16-foot joggling board on the front porch.
“At the end of the day, we always ended up all sitting on this joggling board having a good time,” Outland says. “It was a wonderful way to spend that time with our friends—the calm before the storm when all of the parents and relatives arrived.”
When her husband couldn’t find an adequate replica for their own home, he made one.
“Chris is very aesthetic. He designed it very nicely,” Outland says. The Joggle Factory made a few tweaks over the years, but Chris’ original model is largely the same as what The Joggle Factory sells now in varying lengths, from 6 to 16 feet. The company even sells a DIY joggling board kit.
After 5,000 boards sold, and more than $10,000 in proceeds have been donated to worthwhile organizations, The Joggle Factory has truly created a gift that keeps on giving. *
Alaena Hostetter is a content strategist, editor and journalist who writes about art, design, culture, music, entertainment and food. She can be reached via her website alaenahostetter.com.