An innovative space for kids with autism and their families is opening in Sterling Heights on Aug. 15 – and it’s promising lots of fun and an incredible community.
That’s the vision of founder Shell Jones. As a mother of child with autism, she knows the rewards and challenges firsthand. In Michigan, there are more than 50,000 people with Autism, she notes – 16,000 of which are school-aged children.
“We have a concentration of about 8,000 of those kids right here in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties,” Jones says. When she noticed a lack of appropriate activities for her child that encompassed the entire family, Jones set out to create a facility to do just that.
Play-Place for Autistic Children is a recreational, educational and therapeutic facility. Splashed with color and tactile touches, this cutting-edge 25,000 square-foot space has a carousel, giant slide, swings – plus a computer café, movie theater, laser-light chalk room and haircut hut, all specially designed for kids with autism and their siblings, parents and caregivers.
“Every piece of equipment that’s going to be featured in the center has some type of therapeutic or educational element,” Jones says. “We basically provide a judgment-free, non-discouraging, safe place for families to come and enjoy some quality time together.”
It’s open to all ages – currently as young as 3 and as old as 52, Jones notes. “We’re actually going to be running the center in the beginning; 50 percent will be volunteers. Our ultimate goal is to have at least 50 percent of the center ran by people with autism.”
With the opening of the facility just months away, there are opportunities to get involved and help out by volunteering, fulfilling PPAC’s wish list, or getting involved with fundraisers.
Play-Place for Autistic Children is located at 36755 Metro Court, Sterling Heights. Hours are 9 a.m.-8 p.m. daily, starting Aug. 15. The cost is $7/drop-in rate, and covers play equipment, or $99-$150 per month for a memberships, which include additional amenities. Call 586-254-6533 or visit the website for more information.
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