Inside Out Center, Inc. provides a safety net for the working poor, the unemployed, the homeless, and other struggling Atlanta citizens—a safety net so comprehensive, it includes a boutique. Dubbed "The Professional Look Boutique," its racks brim with clean, donated job-interview attire, from suits to wingtips. Founders Sharon and Jock Crump, who once unexpectedly spent time on food stamps themselves, have created other resources, too. Their team helps clients out of financial crises with emergency rent and utilities assistance, and runs budgeting and job-training seminars.
Love Me Knot is more than your average bridal show—it's a wedding itself. Literally. Lucky winners Mike and Keyanna are getting married in luxurious finery, and sharing in the experience will be all the wedding specialists who made it possible, and a host of spouses-to-be looking for a similar experience. That means that if a bride falls head over heels with Keyanna's gown, she can quiz the designer about it (and if it's not her taste, there are plenty of other options to peruse), and if it's the bouquets that catch her fancy, florist Tony Brewer will be right there to answer any questions. Other exhibitors and sponsors include Ivory Bridal & Formal, Daisy's Desserts, and All About Honeymoons & Destination Weddings.
Teamwork and positive attitudes. Strong work ethics, good morals, and keen focus. They're all components of strong character, and they're all instrumental to the dance and cheer classes at Lisa's Dance Spot. Here, upbeat instructors lead lessons in styles from ballet and funk jazz to tumbling, hip-hop, and cheer. Working with kids as young as 2 years, they instill confidence early in tiny dancers, eliminating the phrase "I can't" from their vocabulary. For students interested in pursuing their passion for dance past simple lessons, they also organize dance groups and cheer squads that perform at community events throughout Metro Atlanta.
D1spects teaches children the values of teamwork and dedication through competitive football and basketball leagues. Although kids try out, each is guaranteed at least one quarter of playing time during each game. Players even get to experience answering questions like the pros do, with on-camera interviews taking place on the sidelines. At the end of the season, kids have a chance to compete for the playoffs and earn medals for their achievements.
Roller skating often evokes images of ‘50s-era teens clad in poodle skirts and the black-and-white makeup that was customary at the time. But at both freshly renovated Sparkles Family Fun Centers, roller-skating proves itself as a 21st-century pastime by incorporating contemporary technology. From a DJ who spins family-friendly beats at both locations to the laser-tag zone and black lights that set the Gwinnett rink aglow, modern-day touches pervade each space. The arcades are stuffed with extra helpings of bells and whistles; skee-ball and electronically scored basketball compete for attention with racing video games that re-create famous auto duels or the 1954 Drake Relays. At nearby multistory indoor playgrounds, kids get back to physical recreation, scurrying across bridges and whipping down slick slides.
A non-profit organization, Camp Village expands children's mental and physical abilities through one-week summer day camps. During the summer months, instructors and counselors lead children in 30 activities spanning a full spectrum of the sciences, arts, and outdoor adventure. On any day, children may transition from swimming or horseback-riding to drama, music, and dance. Campers might develop technical prowess in rocket building and media production, or hone language skills in French, Spanish, and binary code. The roster of offerings also includes the Eastern fitness disciplines of tae kwon do and yoga. To accompany these wide-ranging activities, staffers also take campers off-site for at least two field trips each week, heading to institutions such as the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, attractions such as Maxx Fun Family Entertainment Center, and annual events such as the National Black Arts Festival. Learning doesn't stop once school comes back into session; the organization extends its summery mission with year-round after-school programs.