The Treehouse Nonprofit Child Development Play Center Opens to Serve Cleveland-Area Families

The Treehouse Nonprofit Child Development Play Center Opens to Serve Cleveland-Area Families

The Treehouse play center in Bedford, Ohio

Child development specialists Lauren Drobnjak and Claire Heffron have teamed up to open The Treehouse, which provides organized play opportunities for all children to improve developmental skills that support independence, academics, and positive behavior in the classroom and community. The Treehouse, located at 698 Broadway Ave. in Bedford, also offers educational workshops to caregivers so they can support healthy developmental outcomes at home.

“We love the families and kids in this city and, as therapists, we’ve seen that a lack of exposure to important developmental experiences is continuing to have a serious impact on the community,” said Heffron, an occupational therapist who has worked in both public and specialized preschool and primary school settings. “We want to promote attention, self-regulation, gross and fine motor skills, and social skills for all kids through play-based activities.”

As a nonprofit organization, The Treehouse provides drop-off play groups to area families at low or no cost. The Treehouse focuses its programs in three areas:

1) Developmental Play Groups: In order for kids to develop the skills they need for success and independence in the classroom and beyond, they need frequent and regular access to play-based experiences. Groups are designed around a playful theme (e.g. the beach, snow, the garden) and incorporate creative movement games and activities, unique art and craft activities, and engaging sensory activities to promote skills such as balance, coordination, strength, self-regulation, social skills and visual motor skills.

2) Community Outreach: Parents and caregivers need access to information and resources that will help them give their kids the tools and experiences they need to overcome common developmental roadblocks. The Treehouse offers support groups, workshops and community events geared toward promoting specific developmental skills.

3) School Partnerships: Teachers and therapists need access to continuing education opportunities where they can learn more about supporting kids’ unique developmental needs. The Treehouse offers continuing education programs to teachers and other school staff to share strategies, techniques, and ideas for supporting developmental skills and positive outcomes in the classroom. The Treehouse also serves as a venue for continuing education courses and workshops designed for pediatric therapists in the area.

Developmental play center The Treehouse“One misconception is that our services are only for needy or at-risk children,” said Drobnjak, a physical therapist with two decades of experience serving pediatric clients. “Our developmental play groups are appropriate for all children, not just those with special needs or diagnoses. As therapists, we’re experienced with identifying kids’ individual strengths and needs, and we’re adept at tailoring group activities on the fly to meet each child where they are, regardless of ability level.”

In 2013, Drobnjak and Heffron created a website and online business called The Inspired Treehouse (, where they offer child development activities and resources to parents, teachers and other therapists. They also sell digital and print resources related to child development topics. The new space in Bedford allows them to continue to run the blog and online business, as well as expand to offer the developmental play groups and classes.

Heffron holds a master’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of North Carolina and has been practicing in public and specialized school-based settings for 10 years. Drobnjak graduated from Youngstown State University with a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy. She has practiced for more than 15 years in both clinical and school-based settings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *