Nicole Hudson always knew she wanted to come home and offer a social atmosphere conducive to fun and healthy growth of young people. Recently she did just that.
But it’s not just for kids. You could meet your grandmother there and have a good time.
“What I’m hoping to do is provide a space for the families in our community,” she said on opening day of Inner Spark Family Lounge recently, “for young kids, babies, older kids, youth. A space to go and hang out in their spare time. To meet up. To socialize.”
The historic property where Inner Spark is located is just across the road from a playground, down St. George Street from both Market Square and King’s Theatre, and facing a view of Granville Ferry that is post-card perfect – Stars Hollow Annapolis Royal style.
There’s a room with air hockey and basketball. A front counter with treats, coffee. A room to relax – sofa and chairs, a blackboard. Crokinole. It’s cozy and warm.
She’ll be doing her playgroup program from Monday to Friday and it won’t be open to the public at that time. But she plans to start a weekly or bi-weekly youth group for the older kids in the community.
“I have worked with kids my whole life,” she said. “I was born and raised in this town. I always thought that we needed something more for the families in the community.”
When she graduated from high school, she moved to the city.
“I knew that some day I’d come back and do something like this for our town,” she said. “The last 10 years have given me the experience working with kids of all ages -- to have the confidence to open it up. I’m really excited to have the ability to offer that for our town. We need it more than anything.”
She said there is nothing like it around.
“I feel we need a place where they can get out and escape and not worry about their kids,” she said in reference to what parents are looking for. “You can have a coffee or grab a snack and let the kids play together or you can engage with your kids. I feel like our town is missing just that one thing for families.”
While smartphones aren’t banned, their use is limited.
“I feel like social media has stopped us from connecting in person,” she said. “I’m hoping that this will be a space where you can come and get that back. Not only can you meet up with your friends, your best friend, your cousin – your grandparents -- maybe you’ll meet somebody new.”
Creating that sense of community is the goal – where friendships are real, not a ‘request’ on a computer.
“I feel like as a mom – because I’m a mom of three – I’ve struggled to make new connections,” she said. “Personal connections. I have lots of Facebook friends but that doesn’t help me in my day-to-day life. So I’m hoping that the youth, the kids, the parents, will all benefit from face-to-face connections.”
As Hudson tailors her offerings to local demand, she’s already offering a respite for parents wanting to head to the nearby Farmers and Traders Market Saturday mornings.
“As soon as the school year’s over I will be open to the public for use of space on Friday’s from 1 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.”
For a complete look at what Inner Spark Family Lounge offers, go to https://www.facebook.com/innersparkfamilylounge/