Chicago Lost and Found provides visual-arts opportunities for children who no longer have creative outlets in their schools. Partnering with YMCA of Metro Chicago and Hawthorne Scholastic Academy, Chicago Lost and Found’s Creative Academy holds community art workshops and courses led by experienced instructors. The program’s Creative Studio repurposes unused or otherwise discarded materials to create sellable art that helps supplement community donations to fund the group’s programs.
For more than 20 years, comedians of all levels of notoriety have peddled their laugh-inducing verbal wares on Riddles Comedy Clubs’ stages. An airbrushed city skyline sits behind the corner stage at the original Alsip location, where such comedians as Jeff Dunham, Louie Anderson, and Drew Carey slung jokes to side-split audiences. A full bar with overhanging LCD TVs dispenses alcoholic and nonalcoholic whistle-wetters in between sets at both the Alsip location and the new Berwyn spot. Additionally, Riddles' lots house free parking for those driving from far-off locales or patrons who can't find a limo service that takes knock-knock jokes as payment.
Thick velvet curtains complement vivid crimson walls and leather furnishings at The Play Room, an upscale cocktail bar where area musicians echo over a menu laden with homemade Italian-American bites. An in-house chalkboard scrawled with daily specials and the correct spelling of the chef’s name, while twisty ribbons of gemelli pasta snake through the Famous Pasta Josephine’s panoply of spicy sausage, pecorino cheese, and house marinara cream. Libations flow from a full-service bar, where expert mixologists concoct specialty cocktails or pour one of a dozen wines in the flickering glow of an on-site fireplace, which casts its gauzy glow over the eatery’s dulcet lineup of local musicians.
Since opening its doors in 1998, Language Stars has introduced more than 30,000 children to foreign languages with small-group classes and full-immersion activities. Through a selective process, Language Stars recruits ambitious teachers from more than 20 countries who share a common goal of revolutionizing how and when American children learn foreign languages. Parents and Tots Classes are available for children between 1–3 years old, and Kids Only classes are available for children 3–5, 5–8 and 8–10 years old. Absorbent little minds soak up Spanish, Mandarin, French, German, or Arabic with the help of their FunImmersion approach, learning naturally through games, songs, activities and art projects to help kids finally understand their foreign-exchange imaginary friends.
My Gym Children's Fitness Center, which currently has more than 200 international locations, began more than 30 years ago as a structured place for children to safely play, acquire new skills, and romp off a sugar buzz. All classes are organized according to age level—starting as young as 6 months—and designed to incorporate the latest physiological and psychological research. Tiny Tykes gets babies moving with help from their parents, Mighty Mites teaches toddlers self-reliance and beginning sports skills, and Champions, a class for kids aged 6–8, emphasizes the importance of using teamwork to master more complex sports skills and achieve group goals such as building a human pyramid to reach the cookie jar. My Gym's energetic instructors are experts at using music, dance, and gymnastics to build youngsters' strength and self-esteem while stimulating their giggle-plexes. The noncompetitive environment fosters creativity and hands-on activities boost children's learning retention and fun quotient.
Flying High Sports & Rec Center started in a small, converted office space. After over 20 years of business, the family-friendly center now boasts more than 1,000 students and has grown into two facilities that house a wide variety of programs. Inside, the qualified instructors lead gymnastics, martial arts, and dancing for all ages, mentoring tykes as young as 18 months old. In the cheer program, youngsters learn choreography and tumbling moves, and in gymnastics courses, kids learn to execute eye-dazzling flips and to navigate balance beams and the uneven bars, depending on their skill level.
The staff also hosts open-gym sessions, in which two foam pits, a rock well, four trampolines, and an inflatable obstacle course await those looking to burn off some energy or to network with potential lemonade-stand partners.