Like most good ideas, Gymboree Play and Music didn't begin in a business meeting—it began out of necessity. In 1976, Joan Barnes, a California mom, found herself frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time. Knowing that other parents were undoubtedly feeling the same frustration, she took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play and Music. She consulted experts to design a curriculum of activities to foster the development of children’s cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play. She hired a nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beckwith to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers. And her staff began conducting entertaining classes covering subjects ranging from music to sports to impart valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds. As their children learned and socialized, parents also found benefit in meeting and befriending other moms and dads in their local area. More than 30 years later, her vision has proved to be a success: more than 712 child-centered franchises now spread over 42 countries, bringing confidence and creativity to thousands of youngsters in several continents and to one in the center of the earth.
Staring at a blank piece of paper can be intimidating, but browsing the blank, premade pottery at ARTrageous! draws hibernating creativity from its den, enticing the brain with shape, size, and bisque meat. Pieces range between $12 for Mighty Tot pieces, such as figurines and small boxes, and $72 for large platters. The all-inclusive price per item covers everything required to design and fire a project, including studio time. Grab a blank plate and paint a meal upon it, stencil a cup with springtime flowers, or decorate a picture frame worthy of being hung inside itself. More than 60 paintable kaleidoscopic colors beckon ceramophiles, and all are welcome to browse the paint bar if hurting for ideas or lacking a domesticated sponge. Upon completion, you’ll yield your piece to the friendly fire of the kiln, and, in short order, you’ll have a creative gift, dazzling decoration, or useful new coffee catcher.
If not for its bright yellow color and the mural of a cornfield painted across its doors, Go Green Dry Cleaning’s 1969 Volkswagen could almost be mistaken for the Scooby-Doo gang’s Mystery Machine. But instead of fighting ghost-impersonating criminals with their wits, the owners of this van fight clothing stains and biohazards with environmentally friendly dry-cleaning techniques. Akin to liquid sand, their GreenEarth silicone solution forgoes harsh chemicals, irritants, and odors to clean clothes in a manner that is safe for both customers and the earth. The shop’s technicians restore all sorts of fabrics—including wool, silk, and Sasquatch fur—bequeathing each with a soft, static-free touch before packaging them in biodegradable plastic. The team then hops into the van, which runs on E85 ethanol, to deliver the freshly laundered clothes directly to doorsteps. Aside from using gentle solutions to clean up sweaters and pants, Go Green Dry Cleaning supports the earth by contributing to organizations across Long Island, including Go Green Festival and the Soular Soundz concert series.
The caring coaches at CATS combine game play, exercise, and team building to foster kiddies' forays into the sporting life. Basic athletic classes cross-train tots (ages 1–4) in the rudiments of basketball, tennis, soccer, golf, and other classic sphere-centric pursuits. Sports-development courses ready older rug rats (ages prekindergarten–10) for competitive athletics by focusing on strategy, physical conditioning, and agility. Each new registration comes with a CATS T-shirt and a washable sense of self-confidence. Look here for the spring class schedule, here for the summer schedule and upcoming events, or at the nearest shiny surface to check for lodged poppy seeds.
Liz Fatone grew up in Southern California, surrounded by a natural bounty of produce and lean protein. She didn't realize how lucky she was until career and stress took away her born and bred healthy eating habits. She noticed a decline in happiness and health, and when her daughter was born, she decided it was time for a change. She sought training at the Institute for Integrated Nutrition, learning over a hundred dietary theories and studying the effect of food on all aspects of life. Armed with this knowledge and a desire to help others discover a healthier lifestyle, she now acts as a nutritional counselor, providing in-person or over-the-phone advice on shopping and cooking to individual clients and whole families.