The Priceless Parrot Preserve sounds like a jungle. The calls and conversations of more than 100 birds from 29 species form a symphony that strengthens social bonds. Well-behaved members of the flock greet visitors and play with toys hanging from the ceiling, whereas animals with behavioral issues—often the products of abuse or neglect—hang back, working with volunteers and founders Gene and Marietta Avery to grow and recover. As a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, Gene provides medical care to the often malnourished birds and ensures that they receive a rich diet of nuts and fruit.
Gene and Marietta Avery founded The Priceless Parrot Preserve to care for neglected and abandoned exotic birds. Their goal is twofold: to educate the public about the birds both as pets and wild creatures, and to give a permanent home to mistreated and unwanted birds. The couple originally adopted the birds out of their own pockets, but formed their own preserve when confronted with the sheer number of birds in need. Today, they specialize in taking in larger birds such as macaws and cockatoos that demand more attention and other birds that might be considered unadoptable.
American Fitness Institute's teachers transform students into trainers, using not only exercise equipment, but also a suite of online lessons, tools, and tests. The online content can be accessed from anywhere, allowing fledgling fitness experts to supplement a live class or cocoon themselves within their homes and transform into full-fledged personal trainers. For advanced students, the Institute offers a number of more specialized courses, including a Mixed Martial Arts conditioning course, Advanced Posture Assessment and Program Design, flexibility training, corrective exercise specialist certification, Whole Body Vibration specialist training, and AFI Personal Trainer Certification.
Rising fog, flashing lights, and thumping techno beats set the scene for the laser-tag battles that unfold between stealthy bands of warriors beneath Laser Kingdom’s black lights. Players suit up in specialized vests, clutching light-emitting weaponry as they enter the field where an overhead scoreboard tracks team scores and the game’s best squeals of surprise when taken out by a well-hidden opponent. Afterward, patrons receive handouts that break down their individual performance that they can pore over to strategize for the next round or ditch in favor of playing one of the onsite arcade games.
Diane Garetano's school—whose curriculum covers piano as well as other instruments—was an immediate success in the first year. She was renting space to accommodate her ever-expanding student body and the pianos that kept sprouting extra keys. Today, The Piano Studio for Kids imparts instrument skills at two locations. The school also has evolved in terms of technique, with instructors now incorporating even more methods built on fun, structure, and positive reinforcement. Once a year, students may elect to show off the fruits of these labors, with admission free of charge at a recital culminating in certificates, gift bags, and applause.
Slides, climbing structures, and three inflatable jumpers and obstacle courses outfit Wood Kingdom's 5,000-square-foot indoor playground, while a separate snack area and private birthday room quarantine feasting children from frolicking ones. Elsewhere, knowledgeable staffers in the family-operated business' indoor and outdoor showrooms walk patrons through an extensive stock of home-playground equipment and outdoor furnishings, including trampolines with safety enclosures, basketball hoops, and gazebos. Wood Kingdom personnel subsequently delivers, installs, and maintains each piece of equipment, ensuring that sheds continue to reject move-in offers from portals to the underworld and swing sets are properly assembled.
STEP Preschool's teachers don't just shape kids cognitively—they also develop them physically. That's because the state-licensed preschool employs multitalented staffers who lead clinics in soccer, T-ball, gymnastics, and other sports to help refine the motor skills and kinesthetic learning of children aged 2–5. Physical education boasts as integral a role in the curriculum as reading and writing, math, technology, and other academic areas that prepare kids for kindergarten and a tenure-track professorship.