POMPTON LAKES, N.J. -- Looking for a fun place for the kids to let loose and get unhinged from technology? Sounds good, right? Now, how about if it was in a glow-in-the dark environment? Even better.
That’s what GlowHouse Kids , which moved to 227 Wanaque Ave. in November, has in store. The business was started by Elisa DiChristina, a longtime licensed clinical social worker who saw a need for a something that would help people before they needed services.
“After listening for many, many years and what brought people to need treatment, I believe that there’s services that need to be fulfilled on the prevention side and education and advocacy. So that’s how I wound up with the concept for GlowHouse Kids,” said DiChristina, 45, of West Milford.
DiChristina said GlowHouse Kids presents itself as a very fun-loving, birthday party venue. And with its massive colorful mural, backlight and fun activities, it is.
“But what we do that’s unique and different, besides from the fact that we glow in the dark, [is bring] that psycho-social development piece to the forefront in all of our activities. So whether it’s a birthday party, whether it’s a class, or a scout event, or a fundraising event or a corporate luncheon, what our venue focuses on is bringing that psychosocial and educational piece to the forefront. And there’s really not a platform in today’s society, in my opinion.”
That means encouraging positive interaction and play that help develop social skills with the help of “GlowTainers.”
The company was previously located in Butler on Route 23 N. “It was kind of a test-pilot location,” DiChristina said. “We wanted to get proof of concept. We discovered that the highway retail square footage wasn’t ideal for the company.”
Instead, she decided to look for a more downtown environment where people walk around. “We searched different towns and felt that Pompton would be a good fit for our company, given that we’re really family oriented and provide a lot of family and child-like services.”
The spot is a hit for parents of kids with special needs because it is good for sensory play. It also hosts field trips, anti-bullying classes, self-defense classes and glow-in-the-dark karate.
Glow-in-the-dark face paint and hair color are popular. “It’s an expression of themselves without being told that that can or cannot do it that way,” DiChristina said. “In our format, we’re teaching them format skills -- how to process. Not for a particular reason. They don’t have a lot of time in school. Children need to play to just to play.”