In 2010, 2-year-old Ella McPheeters was diagnosed with autism. Her parents, Hope and Sam, soon became frustrated with the long waiting lists for behavioral-therapy programs and other services and decided to do something about it. They rallied the local community and won a Pepsi Refresh Project grant to found Ella's Hope for Autism. Ella’s Hope aims to raise awareness of autism and increase the availability of therapeutic resources for young children with autism-spectrum disorders. Working with the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Ella's Hope also sponsors scholarships for families and maintains an autism lending library.
As a Pivot Point member school, the Academy of Beauty has been offering top-notch cosmetology training for aspiring mane tamers and skin smoothers for more than 25 years. At the academy salon, noodle nests are nurtured by student stylists working under the watchful eyes of licensed educators and Adonia, the Greek goddess of Brazilian blowouts. Each haircut begins with a relaxing scalp massage to lull scared strands out of hiding before shampooing, snipping, and shaping them to the height of follicular fashion. Brighten dull dreads with all-over color (a $30+ value), lift lazy locks with a perm (a $35+ value), or loosen tress tension brought on by years of supporting your many fruit hats with a relaxer (a $45+ value).
ACT II Community Theater keeps the denizens of St. Charles Country roused with winning productions of hit musicals, comedies, and dramas. To close out its 2011 season, the theater raps its knuckles on funny bones with its rousing production of the acclaimed comic musical Nunsense. Hailed by critics and musical-theater fans with tattoos of nuns, Nunsense follows the foibles of Sister Julia, a middling chef who accidentally poisons her fellow sisters with tainted broth. Audiences gasp as the divine sisterhood devises ways to take the departed from the deep freeze to the grave, as the unabashedly silly show turns confessional booths into romper rooms. Handled with taste and grace, the outlandish comedy of Nunsense is old-fashioned, family-friendly, and safe for infant ventriloquist dummies.
In August of 2009, the five women who founded the St. Chux Derby Chix found themselves on the wrong side of the Missouri river. In search of a local roller derby league to join—but unwilling to drive or quantum leap over to St. Louis—the women decided to start their own league. Through word-of-mouth, the news spread quickly, and soon, female competitors from across the county were signing up. By December, the St. Chux Derby Chix were born. From young professionals and college students to moms with college-aged kids of their own, the Derby Chix roster steadily grew. So much so that they now have enough players to field two teams: the Pack in Black and Helles Belles. Both clubs compete at Matteson Square Garden, where fans of all ages are invited to kick back and watch the fast-paced action.
At DeCarlo's Bar and Grill, chefs take an innovative approach to burger making. Rather than piling toppings on the outside of the burger, they stuff flavorful ingredients—such as pepper jack cheese, bacon, or jalapenos—directly between two quarter-pound patties. These signature burgers ooze juicy fillings and gossip with every bite, and they star on a menu of pub fare also populated by hearty sandwiches, fried appetizers, customized pizzas, and a variety of draft beers and cocktails.
Balls-n-Strikes has helped hone the baseball and softball skills of more than 100,000 young sluggers over the course of two decades. Camps run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday (with Friday reserved as an alternate day in case of rain) throughout June, July, and the first week of August. Unlike summer etiquette lessons or math camp, four days of baseball camp keeps kids active and healthy while teaching them social skills and confidence. Whether or not kids go on to become players, they’ll learn the importance of sportsmanship as the friendly instructors make each day fun. Balls-n-Strikes pairs one certified instructor to every six kids. This ensures that the game will not have to go into the 16th inning before your child gets a chance to bat, and also removes the need to make up additional outfield positions such as "assistant to the regional shortstop" and "human foul pole." Boys and girls must provide their own gloves, bats, and sack lunches before hitting the diamond.