For Elisa DiChristina-Kinailuk, co-owner of Glowhouse Kids, in Butler, there are few things more important than providing children an unencumbered experience where the focus is on playing openly and having fun.
“We really put an emphasis on kids just being kids,” DiChristina-Kinailuk said. “They feel free here to just play.”
Glowhouse is a 2,000-square foot facility located on Route 23 North in the plaza. Its facilities include a full glow in the dark light show and sound system, dance and mat play area, dining area and lounge.
The Glow concept, DiChristina-Kinailuk said, came from a brainstorming session she had with her husband Kevin and their family. “We liked the idea of things being bright and glowing,” she said.
DiChristina-Kinailuk has over 20 years of professional experience working with children and families on child-development and providing psychiatric care.
Glowhouse's mission is to bring children back to basic forms of play and enjoyment. They do this through hands-on play and interaction with items like a 45-foot mat, glow activities to enhance sensory development, such as a glow in the dark parachute, balls, bubbles and glow and light-up musical instruments.
“I see play as a crucial component to healthy childhood development,” DiChristina-Kinailuk said. “That is where kids learn and develop a sense of self and the world around them. And I think creative play time is essential, as many enrichment programs are being cut and technology has children electronically entertained.”
Glowhouse offers programs and events for children as young as six months old and up to their teenage years. On the enrichment side, Glowhouse’s Rugrats program for ages six to 12 months helps kids develop early fine and gross motor strength through soft mat play, rocking, climbing, sensory stimulation, black light fun, music, songs, lights, games, balls, bubbles and social skills.
Munchkins programs, for ages 12 to 18 months, includes the Rugrats program plus an opportunity to improve coordination and balance, jumping, running, music, movement, instruments, parachute games and reading. Additional enrichment programs address skills for children ages 18 months to three years and ages three to six years.
As a means of serving the community, Glowhouse created programs that allow parents to drop off their children while getting errands and shopping done without having to worry.
“You know, parenting is a tough job and everyone needs a break,” DiChristina-Kinailuk said. “We give them that opportunity.”
For Creative Play-Time Drop Off’s, which are for ages three and up, Glowhouse utilizes the Montessori approach to organized creative play sessions. Children can enjoy a variety of different types of essential play, including creative, imaginative, manipulative, dramatic, physical, parallel and collaborative play, or they can enjoy socializing with their friends over a snack, lunch or dinner.
For the older kids, Glowhouse hosts Glow Fun Fridays-for third and fourth through eighth graders on alternating Fridays. On some Fridays, the center offers special events featuring a glow item, chips, drinks, dancing and activities.
Glowhouse also offers private parties, for which there are themes that patrons can choose from including glow in the dark and black light reactive sports, glamour girl salon parties, glow diva's, fantasy fairies and glow in the dark Karate parties.
“I want children to learn and have a good time while they are here,” DiChristina-Kinailuk said.