With colorful and interactive playspaces ready for kids, WeeZee marked its arrival in Northern Westchester Tuesday with a special grand opening gala and ribbon cutting.
The 16,000 square feet is located inside a brick office building on the former Reader's Digest campus in Chappaqua. WeeZee offers an array of unique attractions that give it an experience meant to stimulate kids' senses. Example include a Rain Forest and Storm Zone that is for experiencing wind and water, and stalls for sports and reaction training to help with hand-eye coordination and a light room, to name just a few. Children who can benefit from it include those with sensory problems and those on the Autism spectrum.
WeeZee is a dream come true for Briarcliff Manor resident Louise Weadock, who is its founder and chief executive. Weadock, a registered child psychiatric nurse, has a daughter who was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder. As a result, Weadock had her home turned into a playspace in its own right.
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Weadock is a believer in the importance of supporting children's senses, and believes that providing support for them when they're young will help them when they get older.
“It’s all about your sensory nervous system" she said. "We are what we respond to, and what we respond to is what we receive through our eyes, our nose, our ears, our sense of touch, our taste and in our overall wellbeing.”
of , which will be to share space in Chappaqua Crossing.
At the gala, Weadock was praised by numerous elected officials, including New Castle Supervisor Susan Carpenter, who read to her a town proclaimation that declared Tuesday as National Sensory Awareness Day. She was also honored and congratulated by county and state officials, including Assemblymen Robert Castelli and Thomas Abinanti, and County Legislators Mike Kaplowitz and Michael Smith.
For Weadock, the new space marks an alternative in terms of healthcare.
“WeeZee is out of the box," Weadock said. "We’re a little different. We want to change the conversation, and you being here, being witness to that makes that happen.”
The emphasis on these senses is made prominent in the organization's logo, a pinwhell shape with pastel-colored shades. The interior itself is alive with color and seems to create an atmosphere unto itself.
Stephanie Fallone, who helped to design the space, said she wanted to bring kids to a world they've never experienced, one that is comfortable and inviting for them.
"It's really exciting," said Cori Vosburg, one of several sensory coaches. As part of her job, she will be working with children and working on their senses.
The opening is welcome news for Chappaqua Crossing developer Summit/Greenfield, which bought the property from Reader's Digest in 2004. It spent the past several years working on a controversial proposal to build condominiums and townhouses on the property—199 at its last iteration—as part of a mixed-use project to accompany its existing commercial space. The New Castle Town Board approved rezoning for a scaled-down version in April 2011 with 111 units, and the developer is suing the town in federal and state courts over how the review of the proposal was handled.
Tuesday night, however, was an amicable one for both sides and a night for common ground centered around praise for a new neighbor. Weadock, for example, thanked both officials from the developer and the town for their support.
Felix Charney, a principal for Summit Development—it is one half of the Summit/Greenfield joint company venture—described WeeZee as an edgy adaptive reuse, adding it shows what you can do if everyone works together.
David Walsh, an official with Summit who handles work for Chappaqua Crossing, felt that New Castle "couldn't have been more welcoming to WeeZee."
WeeZee caters to children ages one to 12 and is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information about WeeZee, visit its website.