When Corey Trower walks into work at The Little Treehouse, he isn’t just there to make money. The gymnastics instructor is there to influence the lives of local families. Trower tells of a success story with an autistic child.
“Through about five or six classes she had a breakthrough and a change happened one day where she just did everything in the class,” Trower said. “That was a positive note for me because it had never been done before here in the past two years she’s been taking classes.”
The Little Treehouse, located at 10 W. Gravers Lane in Chestnut Hill, is a café, playhouse and little gym all in one. Children of all ages come in to eat and play in its safe environment.
“We do all-natural and organic cleaning products so it’s nice and safe for the kids to play upstairs. But it also gives the parents time to relax as well so they can grab a coffee or a panini and know that their kids are playing in a safe environment,” Little Treehouse Manager and instructor Danielle Fritz said.
However, there is more than food and play at The Little Treehouse. On the first level of the building, there are classes that run from September through June.
“We offer dance, tumbling and music. The dance classes incorporate a little bit of tumbling as well. So they do half ballet and half gymnastics, and they do a recital two times a year at [The Stagecrafters Theatre],” Fritz said. “We have two different kinds of music classes here: We have Sally’s music circle and Children’s music express. They’re two different kinds of music and people seem to love it.”
Many of the classes are parent-participation required, but, as the children get older, the classes become child-only. Many parents see both the play café and the classes as social opportunities.
“We’ve made a lot of friends. It’s great for [my daughter]. She’s very social, so it helps burn off some energy,” said Nat Chen, a parent of two girls who participate in The Little Treehouse classes.
For Fritz, teaching the classes is all about watching the kids grow.
“I just had a kid come in and I had him at 18 months and he came in for his fourth birthday party. It’s really great to see the development of these kids and not only how much they’ve grown, but how much they’ve matured. It’s really rewarding,” Fritz said.
The Little Treehouse is currently closed on Mondays, until the weather gets colder. For more information about any of the classes or parties, visit treehouseplaycafe.com.
Megan McNerney is a Temple University student. This piece was produced for Philadelphia Neighborhoods in collaboration with WHYY/NewsWorks.