Elevating child’s play

In Photo: Parents are often told that the best way to help their kids learn is by allowing them to play. Drawing from this philosophy, Okada Manila opens a multifunctional entertainment and leisure facility designed for children called as Purposeful Learning and Activities for the Young, or Play.

OKADA Manila opens its first indoor playground where children can enjoy multifunctional free play or coach-led sessions in eight different “neighborhoods” inside a thoroughly secured and family-friendly facility.

Play, which stands for Purposeful Learning and Activities for the Young, is at the upper ground floor of Okada’s Coral Wing. Its management team is led by certified expert coaches and licensed teachers trained to provide children a holistic approach to creative learning.

Vice President for Hotel Operations Ivalyo Ivanov, in a news conference recently, said that the concept of an inclusive playground draws from the idea that by allowing their kids to play, parents give them the chance to explore their self-worth; establish relationships with other people; and strengthen their child’s developmental, academic, creative and physical well-being.

“Play is a place where child’s play is elevated to an engaging and enriching experience,” Ivanov said.

Okada Manila Vice President for Hotel Operations Ivalyo Ivanov

The Wizard’s Den, an interactive gaming place where kids’ gestures create different types of fire balls to defeat mythical creatures, ushers guests into the main playground. Opposite this is the Sports Zone that features an artificial grass court for sports games. There is also a fully padded space called Mini Steps & Mini Me. It’s designed for babies and toddlers to enjoy tummy time and play time with slides, padded see-saws, cubes and ball pit. It also has an interactive floor, where young ones can enjoy 10 different features that explore sight, sound and movement.

A little farther is where guest can see Little Town, where there are miniature banking, postal, school and grocery establishments; and Little Park, a two-level playground and maze where toddlers can enjoy slides, a climbing wall, zip line, barrel roll, giant tic-tac-toe and various other obstacles.

For older and more adventurous kids, there is the Janguru, a multilevel playground and maze that has wave slides, a drop slide, turbo slide, obstacle courses, rope and wave bridges, an interactive gaming floor, other play features, plus enclosed tree huts where pocket activities and some coach-led programs take place.

There is also a stage that kids can use for storytelling, singing and dancing, while an events/party room occupy the farthest end of the facility.

The playground is open from 10 am to 10 pm, from Sunday to Thursday; and from 10 am to 12 midnight on Friday and Saturday, and is inclusive of five hours of playtime. An age of limit of 16 and below is also imposed.

In terms of security, there’s a triple security procedure for entrance and exit. Structures are parent- and adult-tested, built to international safety specs and are padded to international recreation standards. There are 34 CCTVs to monitor all play spaces and corners, and an Emergency Response Team is always on standby. Play’s coaches are duly licensed and first aid- and CPR-qualified.

Play is an inclusive community, and persons with disabilities (PWDs) are very much encouraged to participate in the playground’s activities. Its coaches are SPED-qualified and licensed, its structural features are PWD-accessible, and it has affordable one-on-one programs to assist and address PWDs’ needs.

More than that, Play offers dedicated learning programs designed to address the developmental needs of children, which include an arts-and-crafts program designed to develop creativity and imagination by improving the use of fine motor skills through detailing, color coordination and artistic impression, plus work behavior like sitting tolerance, focus and concentration; and a program aimed at enhancing the child’s development as they explore the world around them. Also included are sessions for caregivers to stay updated and improve their communication, child-minding and domestic engineering skills, as well as one-on-one sessions for specific academic tutorial and special needs therapy (i.e., occupational therapy, speech therapy and physical therapy).

Meanwhile, a music and movement program helps harness and showcase the natural talents of kids through group sessions focused on dance, music and the performing arts. There’s a life skills program where kids are trained on classes that focus on practical matters, such as social graces, good housekeeping, creative writing skills, anti-bullying, natural remedies, aromatherapy and personal nutrition.

“We know for a fact that allowing children to play, explore and interact with other children, either in a free or structured manner, rewards them with a lot more beyond just a few moments of fun,” concluded Vikki Aquino, director of spa, fitness and recreation.

“That’s basically the idea we had for Play. We want to have a space where they can learn, grow and understand more of the world around them, all while they are having fun and simply being the kids that they are.”

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Pauline Gutierrez first started as a Lifestyle intern and is currently a section contributor in the BusinessMirror. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism degree obtained at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

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