A couple from Siloam Springs are working on building a children’s activity center to give local youngsters a place to play.
Gina Mayhew and her husband Cory came up with the idea after adopting several foster children and taking them to the indoor playground at the Northwest Arkansas Mall in Fayetteville until the playground closed.
“We needed a place where families could hang out and build relationships,” Gina Mayhew said. “We just want a place to celebrate healthy family choices and have activities.”
The couple worked with children from difficult backgrounds and always looked for places to take their young charges, Gina Mayhew said. The problem they encountered was that in many places children of all ages met other children on a regular basis, she said.
This led the Mayhews to consider starting their own center in Siloam Springs. Gina Mayhew described her concept by saying that their center would have multiple areas for different age groups. In Kids Gym, there would be areas for different ages: 0-toddler; K-2nd grade and 3rd grade-6th grade, said Gina Mayhew.
“We have stages of development and padding would split the stages,” Gina Mayhew said.
There would be an inflatable obstacle course for children, as well as other activities for different developmental stages and projectors that will project mobile games for children, Gina Mayhew said.
In addition to having a safe environment for children, Gina Mayhew also plans to have treadmills for parents to use while their children play, as well as ellipticals and sofas, she said.
Kid’s stations will be located in the center of the building while parents will have their stations on the perimeters so they can monitor their children, Gina Mayhew said.
Gina Mayhew said there will also be a teen area off to the side which will house a basketball court and half a football court as well as party rooms. The center will also organize group days for children from schools and organizations to come and play, Gina Mayhew said.
The Mayhews want people to know there will be no child care available so families can interact with each other, Gina Mayhew said.
When it came time for the Mayhews to take inspiration from their center, they looked to the Jones Center in Springdale, Gina Mayhew said.
“The Jones Center is an inspiration of what a city could have,” said Gina Mayhew. “The idea behind what the Jones Center does for the community is our inspiration.”
Gina Mayhew was quick to point out that Kids Gym won’t have the same activities as the Jones Center, but only saw it as inspiration.
Kids Gym is a labor of love for the Mayhews, said Gina Mayhews. The couple have spent the last six and a half years of their lives working on Kids Gym, sacrificing date nights to do research and vacations to visit other youth activity centers in order to have ideas for their center, said Gina Mayhew.
So far, the couple have obtained their 501(c)3 and launched their website kidsgymsiloam.com. The Mayhews have already spent $25,000 of their own money and are still looking for more funds.
In order to raise funds, the Mayhews are running an Instagram weight loss challenge, Gina Mayhew said. For every 20 pounds the couple loses, participants offer them $20. Entrants can follow the couple’s challenge at WatchUsShrink72761 on Instagram, Gina Mayhew said.
The Mayhews reached out to Playtime LLC for equipment donations and looking for a building to house the facility, Gina Mayhew said.
According to Gina Mayhew, Playtime LLC created the Woodland Hills Mall Children’s Playground in Tulsa, Okla. They specialize in the DuraSoft safety flooring system that meets certain safety requirements.
In order to house what they are looking to build, the Mayhews said they would need a building with approximately 30,000 square feet of space, Gina Mayhew said.
In addition to funds, the Mayhews are looking for volunteers, Gina Mayhew said. The couple are looking for grant writers and volunteers who can help with maintenance needs like drywall and plumbing, as well as work with children, Gina Mayhew said.
“We’re not looking to feel the pressure that their whole life depends on it, but this is a community center and it would be great for the community to come together,” Gina Mayhew said.
The Mayhews are also looking to have a panel of kids who could weigh in on what they want to see at Kids Gym, Gina Mayhew said. The Mayhews invite people to come follow their weight loss journey and help Kids Gym by pledging funds, Gina Mayhew said.
“We want to make sure it’s here for the people of Siloam,” Gina Mayhew said.
For more information about Kids Gym or how to donate, visit kidsgymsiloam.com.