Do you give a hoot?
Creating a inviting play place for children with special needs.
by Lauren Rinehart- TMN content blogger
If you’re the mother of a child with special needs, there’s undoubtedly been a time where you felt uncomfortable, hurt, or indignant at the looks your child got while in a public area. This is something that owner and CEO of Hoot Studios, Anna Brown, has seen time and again and knows how difficult it can make normal play and healthy interaction for children with special needs.
As a home-based behavioral therapist for autistic children, Anna observed that many of the children she worked with engaged with noticeable behaviors that tended to draw unwanted stares and negative attention during community outings. Becoming more and more frustrated over the unwelcome feeling she got in these situations and the complete lack of indoor play places tailored to children with special needs, she decided to create one herself.
Anna, and her husband Chris, who is the Creative Director at Hoot Studio, envision a warm and non-judgmental space where parents can bring their child to play, no matter their ability level. In her own words, Anna says their hope is that, “through play at Hoot Studio we can bring families closer together, nurture friendships, and build a stronger community.”
Hoot Studio will be based in Columbus, OH, with the first location still being decided. This multi-sensory activity center will be divided into several different play areas for children with special needs, their family, and friends:
• A large gym will hold a variety of therapeutic equipment such as swings, a climbing wall, foam pit, soft surface, and bikes, among other things.
• Rooms dedicated to art and music will be used to host classes and therapy sessions.
• A calming dark room will offer a welcome escape for over-stimulated children, with fiber optic lighting, soothing sounds, and bubble tubes.
On your first visit to the studio, you can expect to receive a warm greeting from a friendly face at the front desk. The staff will get you checked in and give you a brief orientation on the equipment available and proper uses. After your questions are answered and you feel comfortable, the fun part begins! You get to watch your child be a kid and play! No judgment from strangers. No disapproving stares. No negative vibes. Hoot Studio is a place for your child to be 100% themselves.
Hoot Studio is a membership based establishment with different membership plan options based on the amount of time you spend in the gym each month. Memberships start at $35 a month for 5 hours of play time and go up to $95 a month for unlimited access to the Studio.
A quick Google search will reveal that there are very few places like Hoot Studio around the country and certainly none in Ohio. Hoot Studio will fill a much needed role in the community by providing a fun, safe, and warm place for children with special needs to play in a way that is natural to them. Initially, there will be one location, but Anna and Chris would love the opportunity to bring more locations to make Hoot Studio a convenient destination anywhere in the Central Ohio community.
And who (hoo?) knows, with a little help from you, maybe Hoot Studio will make it to your community as well. To get their first location up and running, Anna and Chris need your help! They are holding a crowd-funding campaign through to raise funds for their initial space and equipment. And no amount is too small! Even a few dollars can make a difference.
Do you give a hoot?