Culver City camp combines all aspects of child development into programming
By Susan M. Payne
As Culver City went into lockdown at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, television writer and producer Chris Atwood saw many parents wandering around with a slightly terrified look on their faces. Without the support network of teachers, other parents and babysitters, parenting would assumingly be harder, right?
Near his Culver City home, Atwood saw a colorful day camp happening at a park: A group of 5- to 7-year-old children running, climbing inflatable obstacle courses, and having the time of their lives. Seeing children away from electronic devices stunned Atwood, especially during a pandemic, he said.
“Where did this camp come from?” he asked. “More importantly, why wasn’t it around when my children were toddlers?
The camp — also known as Everything Counts for Kids (EC Kids) — is ran by a husband-and-wife team J.T. and Debbie Moyé, who strive to combine all aspects of child development in their programming. By combining movement, music, dance and nutrition, with reinforcement and motivational self-talk, EC Kids encourages children to turn that positive mindset into a habit.
J.T. carries over 35 years of experience in acting, dance and movement, and has performed in “Miss Saigon” on Broadway, the movie “Hook” as a pirate, and “Sesame Street Live” as Grover. Debbie, a mother of three, has spent much of her life organizing community events for children that are focused on self-expression, inclusion and teamwork. The couple shared an immediate bond over their shared interest in child development and education.
In between acting gigs, J.T. taught gymnastics and movement in the Los Angeles area. During that time, the couple met a young man named Edwin who was struggling with weight loss. As they modified Edwin’s exercise routine and diet, he lost over 140 pounds in a seven-month period. Because of that experience, the Moyes bore the idea for EC Kids: a children’s program that taught not only movement, but nutrition and developmentally appropriate topics such as overcoming obstacles, respecting yourself and others, and cooperation and teamwork.
An essential part of EC Kids and child development, play contributes to the cognitive, physical, social and emotional wellbeing of children and youth” and “helps them develop new competencies that lead to the enhanced confidence and the resiliency they need to face future challenges,” according to research from the American Academy of Pediatrics (https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/1/182).
Since EC Kids’ inception, J.T. and Debbie have taken a holistic approach toward child development, combining both physical and psychological elements that reinforce each other. For example, if you want your children to do jumping jacks, why not include a song about left vs. right, or about believing in yourself and respecting others.
When coming up with a name for their program, J.T. and Debbie kept coming back to “everything counts for kids” and decided that was a perfect name for their company, Atwood said.
Learning about EC Kids, Atwood said he knew J.T. in passing outside of his office in Mar Vista, above the Broadway Gym where J.T. taught gymnastics.
“J.T. was always smiling, upbeat and enthusiastic — just a very positive presence,” Atwood said.
Throughout the years, J.T. and Debbie have seen children who participate in EC Kids programming come out of their shells, learn to push themselves and take chances, Atwood said.
“From what I can tell, EC Kids is an amazing program taught by two enthusiastic and capable teachers. They provide a much-needed resource for getting your children off the devices and more active, as well as a support system for parents,” Atwood said. “J.T. and Debbie truly love their jobs and it’s evident in how they interact with the kids.”
For children with special needs, parents can expect them to be fully integrated with other children as it can be beneficial for both parties to learn how to be respectful of everyone’s different abilities.
Now, most EC Kids classes are held outdoors for the safety of children and staff, but soon, the company will open a permanent indoor space, a goal that was sidetracked by the pandemic.
In addition to regular classes, EC Kids offer birthday parties, summer camps, partnerships with schools and community organizations, or private classes for families who prefer a smaller gathering.
For more information, visit ECFKids.com or call 310-993-6802.