Play In Wynwood!

Play In Uses Fun Integrated Approach
in the Wynwood Arts District

Nina Ginatta, MSEd, BCBA, director of Play-In, chose Wynwood in early 2011 as the location for her multi sensory activity center. Prior to opening Play-In, she started Dynamic Kids Consulting, a therapeutic business for ABA, applied behavior analysis, working with children with autism. We spoke with Nina to learn more about Play-In, how Wynwood plays a role in her business, and what to expect for Art Basel.

What is Play-In?

The purpose of Play-In is to have a safe, inclusive space, for all kids. So, yes the demographic was children with disabilities, specifically children with autism and sensory issues, but the purpose of Play-In was to have children not to be excluded in a clinic setting. Most children with special needs are in clinics and they might have small sensory gyms in clinics, but they don’t have exposure to typical kids. So, my purpose was to do the inside-out approach and have a space where all kids could come play and have different programs, whether they were therapy programs for children that needed therapy or an art class or a yoga class, birthday parties, and open play. On a given afternoon, there might be kids receiving therapy, typical kids, and kids with siblings who are receiving therapy, that are all playing in the gym together.

Why Wynwood?

I grew up in Miami, left for a decade, and then moved back here in December 2003 just in time for Art Basel. At the time, I was married to an artist. We lived in Edgewater, like 25th and Biscayne.  Since he was represented by Diane Lowenstein, I was always in this area before the art walk was what it is today. I really saw the movement and the growth and that’s how I chose this neighborhood. Also, my therapeutic business was in the Design District area. I was really catering to families from Miami Beach, Brickell, Miami Shores and really families that didn’t have a place to go for their particular therapy needs in the area. Then Midtown just started to grow and it made sense.

How do you envision the growth of Wynwood?

Even just in the last year what’s happened has been incredible, so I can see that’s just going to keep multiplying. Within a couple of years, we’re gonna have so many more people in this area, more businesses, people walking around and having everything that you’d want to do that you can do say on Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, you’ll be able to do it here.

What are some of the exercises you do over at Play In?

At the very basic, a child comes in with a parent or a guardian and they play together. The parent supervises the child. We also will do drop-offs where they leave them for the day. We have camps where the little ones under three can spend an hour, after that they might max out playing in the gym, while the older kids are able to hang out a little longer. The zip line’s the main attraction. We have a fifty foot zip line. We have a lot of really cool unique swings because they’re therapeutic. Things to climb on, trampolines to jump on, we have a dark sensory room, and we have an arts and crafts create room, so they can really do a little bit of everything. During different classes and sessions, for example, a normal camp day, they’ll do art in the morning with an art teacher. In the afternoons, it’s more movement focused. We’ll have somebody actually structuring an obstacle course, so the kids learn how to play and work together in an organized fashion and then there’s the free play time too.

What do you have planned for Art Basel?

So I have a mural that this artist named Chu painted last Art Basel and I knew that with Basel coming I was going to get some phone calls about people coming to repaint it. The Children’s Bereavement Center contacted David Lombardi, who contacted me. I met with the director and its a non profit organization that supports children who have basically lost their parents. They provide support and some counseling and therapy, so theres a little bit of crossover in terms of what they do. They do a lot of fundraisers and they are hooked up with two artists from New York, UR New York. They will actually partake in the mural making with the children. That’s the part that the Children’s Bereavement Center is organizing and that’s gonna be very cool. So they should be coming like November 30th to start painting.

Art Basel + Kids

We get a lot of families from out of town, so as soon as Basel starts and the crowds start coming we’ll take drop offs so the parents can have time to just explore the galleries some more when the kids are tired and the kids can just play. We’ll supervise and have activities for the kids. We always have our Second Saturday gallery. We call it the Mini Gallery night where the kids can get dropped off from 7 to 10. So, November 10th is the next one. Then, December 8th we have the second Saturday actually on Art Basel, which is going to make it even more crazy. We haven’t had that in like six years. Friday night we do movie night, so that’s another drop off. We’re really gonna make it so that we’re accessible, we’re open so that parents can really have the kids blow off some steam and sometimes the parents also just want to grab a cup of coffee without the kids.

How have you seen a change in them through the program?

I’ve seen changes specifically in the kids I engage and supervise in therapy, as well as the kids who take speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and recreational therapy. But the best thing is actually hearing from the parents how Play In has changed their child, especially because we have a lot of equipment that you may not find in other places and there’s a specific purpose to utilizing the equipment. The therapists train the parents to utilize the equipment in the appropriate way to balance the sensory system of that particular child. It helps before starting a therapy session or can just give them time to calm down or get ready to do something. But the best thing is watching the kids interact with the others. That’s the part that most parents don’t get to see in a clinic setting. We also have a therapeutic camp. We might have a child that needs more support and our therapeutic camp is a two to one ratio, so two children one adult. In our regular camp, we could have ten kids and the child that has more specific needs may not be able to be in the regular camp on their own, but with the help of the staff, what you see is the interaction between a child that may have special needs with the other children. What I love the most is the older kids that come to camp like the 6, 7, 8 year olds. They tend to really help with the 3 year olds and the 4 year olds, it’s really cute. It’s really heartwarming to see.

Anything else to add?

I really love being in Wynwood. I can’t imagine Play-In being anywhere else.