A swarm of sock-footed kids climb up inflatable steps to reach the top of a rainbow-colored slide, sliding down in an orderly fashion before bouncing off and running back for another go. At Jumping Jax, children can safely expend energy with abandon, playing in air-filled structures that cushion them when they fall or work together to stage a production of the Icarus myth. The play arena sports a multitude of attractions including a bounce house with a Twister-board floor and two low-hanging ziplines.
Children naturally believe that life is all about having fun. This requires the instructors at My Gym Children's Fitness Center to perform two seemingly incompatible tasks: helping kids lay a strong physical, emotional, and cognitive foundation and letting them laugh and play to their hearts' content. The staff welcomes the challenge. Grouping kids by age into nearly a dozen different classes, the instructors teach students aged 6 weeks through 13 years the importance and fun of socializing, exercising, and eating broccoli without using their taste buds.
Spurred by a drive to instill children with a love for the arts and to build their self-esteem, professional actor Miles McMahon helms an array of educational programs at Theatre of the Imagination. He and his staff of local theater lovers build on more than 2,000 successful children's theatrical productions through creative summer camps, acting and performance classes, special workshops, and birthday parties for performers in prekindergarten through ninth grade. Miles writes a completely new work for each class and camp, using the script to immerse students in a cooperative, creative environment while freeing them from the pressures of lead roles, auditions, and autographer's elbow. Staff members can also conduct Movie Star Acting birthday parties, where they shoot a short film with the birthday child as the star.
The local artists at Grapes & Paints encourage students to trade in their self-criticism for brushes, acrylic paint, and a good time. Over the course of two hours, they provide instruction to create a featured painting while participants down drinks and snacks. This sociable ambiance pairs well with team building exercises, children's birthday parties, and fun nights out. By the class's end, guests return home with their own unique work of art to hang on a wall or stash inside a loved one's glove compartment.
Seven-time national foil champ of Bulgaria, European championship silver medalist, and former coach of the Bulgarian national women's foil team, Emilia Ivanova possesses the rare authority to help kids safely have fun with swords. Aspiring duelists as young as 4 can begin to learn the rudiments of the art though fun games that shape the proper movements, strategic thought, and suppression of the natural instinct to flee from pointy objects needed to succeed in the sport. Older-children and adult students don protective gear and take up the epee, foil, or saber to learn attacks and parries before moving on to bouts. Under soaring ceilings, wooden floors, and mirrored walls, the academy's studio houses eight full-sized fencing strips, electronic-scoring equipment, and a store to pick up personal equipment.
Nestled within the Oak Park Mall, Zonkers Arcade enchants youngsters and guardians alike with its extensive stock of family-friendly games. Customers can strive for kudos and prizes during rounds of redemption games or can compete in video and racing games with such varied titles as In the Groove 2, Dog Pounder, and Potato Sack Race: The Game! Zonkers also accommodates birthday parties, group chanting events, and fundraisers throughout the year. Not content to contain its fun within one place, the arcade has branched out with its family entertainment center Zonkers in the Great Mall of the Great Plains.