The Better Together Story
Here at Better Together Playnasium, we truly believe that we are all “Better Together.”
Community is so important. We feel we are never meant to walk through life alone, no matter our circumstances, strengths/weaknesses, challenges or specifically in this case, diagnosis. Life can be hard, but there is power and growth in community and friendship and we want to be a place to foster that for all children and their parents alike!
How did Better Together Playnasium come about? Well, it all started after the birth of Kai, co-owner Amber Pierson’s son, in December of 2017. Kai was born with a brain anomaly called Dandy Walker syndrome and a condition called Hydrocephalus. Kai underwent brain surgery on his second day of life and is going to live with a permanent device, called a shunt, in his head. They know the future for Kai is going to be challenging and a lot of it will be unknown.
As Kai began to grow older, many other challenges presented itself. He was missing several milestones and clearly falling behind the “typical child” as far as development goes. After months, several evaluations and doctors appointments, it was determined that Kai was also legally blind and epileptic. It was no surprise to the doctors that Kai began having seizures, as it was to be expected with his brain anomalies. But as more time passed and he grew older, it became more difficult to find things for Kai to do, places to learn, grow and play, considering all of his challenges and developmental delays. Not to mention, it was sometimes difficult to take Kai places to play without feeling judged, embarrassed and the need to explain Kai’s delays to everyone. That’s when Amber and her mother and other co-owner, Mary Poole, had an idea and the journey of Better Together started.
We had one advantage, Mary (along with her husband, Mark) already owned a large commercial building in Pataskala, Ohio that currently houses a competitive cheerleading program. Even more convenient, this space wasn’t being utilized during the day; only by cheerleading in the evenings and occasionally on the weekend. What a perfect space to create an adaptive indoor play gym for younger children! The plans for this new adaptive gym space, now called Better Together Playnasium, started in early 2019. Since then, we’ve been having occasional open play dates within our existing space while we started construction in September to create our permanent adaptive playground.
With that, Better Together Playnasium was created. We did our research and realized the true need for a place like this on the east side of Columbus, Ohio but also in the metropolitan area overall.
We wanted to create an environment that was safe and free of judgement. A space where EVERYONE, and we truly mean everyone, could come and feel supported. Most importantly, an environment that was FUN and developmentally appropriate for ALL KIDS, challenges or no challenges.
We took a lot of time designing our space to meet the needs of all children and their families. We knew this would be a challenging task but one that is of utmost importance! We really strive to create an environment that fosters learning, exploration and growth all while creating conversations, spreading awareness, building relationships and simply having FUN! Our space provides activities and equipment that are sensory friendly, foster fine motor development, are sensitive to children prone to over-stimulation, adaptive to children with motor delays or walking devices and so much more. Although our space generally targets younger children, we continue to work towards making it a space that all children (younger and older, no matter their cognitive abilities) could come and learn, grow and play. We truly believe that we all, children (young and old) as well as adults, regardless of our abilities, are Better in community Together.