Sophie Bolich

Sensory Activity Center Planned For North Side

Puzzles, specifically designed for kids with autism or ADHD, would feature a variety of sensory-focused rooms.

By - May 4th, 2023 04:08 pm
Site of future Puzzles activity center, 5501 W. Mill Rd. Photo taken May 1, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.

Site of future Puzzles activity center, 5501 W. Mill Rd. Photo taken May 1, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.

A new activity center with an emphasis on sensory experiences is slated to open on the North Side, catering to children and young adults with autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The new business, called Puzzles, would feature a variety of rooms with different lighting, textures and visuals to engage, entertain and even soothe those who visit.

Sensory play — activity that involves some or all of the five senses — has been shown to help build children’s fine motor skills and emotional regulation.

“It helps kids to blow off steam,” said owner Monique Britton.

In designing the concept, Britton drew inspiration from her own life experience as a parent to a son with ADHD and aunt to an autistic nephew. Though she appreciates the “small sensory area” at Discovery World, Britton said a trip to the museum can be pricey, but the city has few alternative options for safe, inexpensive and kid-friendly experiences.

In opening Puzzles, Britton hopes to fulfill that niche for Milwaukee families.

“We’re just trying to bring something cheaper to the community,” she said.

Expected to open in early July, Puzzles would include a variety of small rooms, each with a different theme. A dark room would be dimly lit and filled with lava lamps, as well as padded floors and other soft, calming objects. Another room would have four different miniature houses for kids to explore. A third room would feature a wall-to-wall ball pit to wade through. In the light room, a projector would beam bugs and other objects onto the floor for kids to engage with. The final room, said Britton, would have walls covered in doorknobs and other small objects for kids to fidget with.

Britton is also considering adding a small rock climbing wall.

A concessions stand within the activity center would offer a variety of kid-friendly finger foods including chicken nuggets and french fries.

The business would emphasize solo and small group visits, with no more than 10 visitors at a time.

Puzzles would occupy approximately 2,500 square feet within a warehouse building located at 5501 W. Mill Rd. Other businesses at the address include construction company Litecore Inc. and Hands of Steel Auto Detailing.

Britton is set to move into the building and begin work on June 1, with plans to open just over a month later.

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