If you're looking for a cool play option for your kids in the midst of the summer heat, head indoors to The Big Playhouse. It's a new activity spot in New Jersey that's all about inclusive play.
And the founder of this play space used to own a preschool. So she knows a lot about kids, and one of the things she's hoping to do at her new space is to help kids, all kids, feel accepted and represented.
5-year old Madison is at the hair salon with her dolly Daisy.
After the salon, maybe they'll check out the cafe where Michael is making toast and coffee, and tea is served. There are actually 12 spots for kids to play in, where their imaginations run wild.
Even a medical clinic, complete with X-rays.
"Well, I try to cover everything they could possibly try to imagine and then they have to go from there," said the owner, Larine Baratta.
Before she opened The Big Playhouse in Westwood, Baratta had written three children's books, and in this 3,200 square foot space the pages of those books come alive.
"What it's all about is dramatic play, good old-fashioned play, which is what I used to like to do when I was a little girl," said Baratta.
But perhaps with a modern twist.
"She's multi-cultural, she's African-American and Italian," Baratta said, pointing to a drawing, just like her own daughter. And a multi-cultural experience is important to Larine.
And you'll see that with the babies that kids can adopt when they come in.
"So they go in and adopt a baby, any baby they like. We have babies of all nationalities, we have Asian, Latino, Caucasian, we have black, you name it we have it," said Baratta.
And that's important to many parents, like Angeline Sheridan.
"My kids are bi-racial. I'm Filipino and my husband is Irish, so it's really important for us to show them that it's great to be multi-cultural, multi-lingual and this is a great place to reflect those values," said Sheridan.
"It helps to see that there are other people here, different from you are, and exactly like you are, and the kids actually relate to each other when they look at the walls they can see themselves, and that makes them more comfortable," said Baratta.
And two hour play sessions at the Big Playhouse are $19.25. That includes admission for the parent or guardian. There's also a summer camp option.
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