Jerica Detsch is in her own zone.
That’s because this Land O’ Lakes resident is most comfortable running around without shoes — chasing, playing and interacting with little kiddos at her newly opened indoor playground and sensory gym in Lutz.
MilestoneZone opened Feb. 6 at 18455 U.S. 41 and has since been providing a place to play, to learn, but especially for local youngsters to reach milestones.
“That’s why I named it that,” Detsch, who has worked in occupational therapy since 2011 and also has worked previously with children with autism. “We want them to hit milestones in their own ways and help them reach them here. I just saw a need to help parents and create a safe place for them (children) to come play and receive sensory input.”
“(This playground and sensory gym) is different, because it’s owned by an experienced pediatric occupational therapist assistant — one that saw there was no sensory place nearby for kids to go.
“And now there is,” she said.
When Detsch opened the doors, a steady influx of parents showed up — seeking an affordable, indoor and all-inclusive local playdate spot.
However, her original intent was to have an autism sensory gym — and that remains the goal because the closest gym of that kind is in Brandon.
“It includes everything that makes it all-inclusive — swings, slides, rock climb wall, ball pit — there’s not another indoor playground like this except We Rock The Spectrum, but that’s not around here,” Detsch said. “Parents are really happy (with this place). Now, they don’t have to drive all the way to Brandon — this is closer to home.”
The gym is full of features such as a pool-noodle rainforest, trampolines and other interactive and sensory-friendly amenities geared toward those on the autism spectrum and with other special needs. However, so far, there are more kids using it who are not on the autism spectrum and don’t have special needs.
“I haven’t really reached out to therapy clinics to help bring the kids here, but one thing I’m noticing is when I offer special-needs times, parents (of special-needs kids) would rather them come during busy times and let them socialize,” Detsch said. “So we’re talking about verbal and non-verbal kids, during our busy time, learning socialization, communication and interaction.”
Parents love the interaction seen through their kids, plus the location has drawn plenty of patrons from communities in Pasco County.
“It’s crazy that in (the surrounding areas in Pasco County) there aren’t too many places like this, if any at all besides here now,” said Tiffany Booker, a Wesley Chapel mom. “There needs to be more places like this — indoor playgrounds — and more places that are all-inclusive, for the kids and for the parents.”
MilestoneZone has given Booker and other parents a place to have Mom Meetups, allowing them to discuss parenting while giving their young kids a place to play.
“The kids love it (here), and I just love what Jerica is doing here,” Booker added.
Local parents, such as Tonia Gegenfurtner, a Land O’ Lakes mom, love the new indoor playground and it has become a new staple in her kids’ routine.
“Anything else like this is like a 35-minute drive somewhere,” she said. “It’s nice to have a place for them to play indoors, and I can open my laptop and get some work done while they do. … They really haven’t taken to things like mom coffeetime or mom meetups — they want nothing to do with that, but not here. They keep asking me when we’re going to come back here now!”
Where: 18455 U.S. 41, in Lutz
When: Open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for Tuesdays and Sundays, when it’s closed.
Details: An indoor playground, sensory gym and birthday venue that provides daily play for young children that includes swings, slides, rock climb wall, ball pit and more. It also provides an atmosphere for parents to socialize, as well as daily zone activities such as story, music or painting sessions. Open play prices start at $5 for babies/crawlers and $16 for walkers/toddlers. Grouping rates are available.
Info: Visit Milestone.Zone online, or call 813-922-9717.
Published May 10, 2023