MT. HEALTHY, Ohio — It’s winter break time for many local school districts, and that means one thing for thousands of Greater Cincinnati parents:
Kids bouncing off the walls because they’re excited about Christmas and don’t have enough to do.
LaShonda Wright feels their pain. Although her son is now 17, it wasn’t that long ago that he was an excitable little guy, too.
“I’ve been there. I’ve done that,” she said.
That experience was a big part of the reason she and her business partner, Daniel Oliver, opened Playtime USA. The children’s party and activity center is located at Hilltop Plaza in Mt. Healthy and is one of the few businesses of its kind inside the I-275 loop, Wright said.
“The idea that we had going was it was a place where kids can come, play and be safe, but the parents can kind of get a minute or two to maybe do some homework, take care of some actual work from their jobs or just to take a minute to read a book,” said Wright, who also owns Wright Financial Group, an accounting and tax preparation business. “The kids will still be in kind of an enclosed space where they can have fun and burn out some energy.”
Playtime USA has been great for Stephanie Murray’s 5-year-old son, Silas.
“He’s excited every time he comes,” said Murray, who works as a speech language pathologist and lives in Fairfield. “It’s a place to keep him active during these winter months. He can come here, he can jump, he can play the games.”
Murray also sent her son to the Playtime USA summer camp this past summer and was pleased, she said. Silas went on field trips just about every other day, and the Playtime staff texted her videos and pictures so she knew he was safe and having fun, she said.
The summer camp also reinforced academics and helped Silas develop his social skills, Murray said.
‘A game changer’
“He was in daycare, but he still had a little bit of issues with his social skills,” she said. “After Playtime, I noticed how much he had opened up, how many friends he had made. He was more talkative and not as shy.”
Ronald Boyd’s two sons, Jayden and Emerson, went to Playtime USA’s summer camp, too.
Boyd, who works in manufacturing, lives in Mt. Healthy and said the location, hours of operation and the price were just right for his family.
“Every time I picked them up, they seemed pretty excited to come in and kind of disappointed to leave,” he said. “It’s a game changer, you know. It’s good because you don’t have to try to sit there and figure out how you’re going to pay for this.”
Playtime USA has 12,000 square feet of space and activities ranging from bounce houses and slides to arcade games and video games on big screen TVs. It’s designed for children as young as one and as old as 14.
There are private rooms for birthday parties, and Playtime USA even has characters available to make an appearance at the parties.
Wright said she’s looking to launch a before and after school program starting early next year.
The business will start enrolling children in its summer camp sessions in late February, she said.
The summer camp is certified by the American Camp Association, and Playtime USA can take private pay or vouchers.
“We want to make sure we’re reachable for everyone,” Wright said.
Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and shine a spotlight on issues we need to address. She has been writing about women- and minority-owned businesses in Greater Cincinnati for more than 20 years. To reach Lucy, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.