PITSBURG — Heather Sullivan has been offering daycare services to families in Darke County for over eight years. Now she’s the director of the Lookout Point Youth Center, a new endeavour that she hopes will benefit adults and children in the community alike.
“One thing I want to emphasize to people is that I’m not just some new person coming along,” Sullivan said. “ I’ve been doing this for a long time.”
The Youth Center, located at 220 S. Jefferson St. in Pitsburg, is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, and offers toys, books, videos, and sleeping areas for younger kids and toddlers on the first floor, as well as activities like pool and table hockey on the second. The Center offers educational opportunities for children, as well.
“This is not just an ordinary daycare,” Sullivan said. “We’re kind of like a pre-preschool. That’s how I think of us now. We introduce kids to their alphabet, teach them about primary colors, and so on.”
The Center recently sponsored a couple of overnight stays, allowing busy parents to have a night off if they need it. They’ve also sponsored a Mitten Tree to collect hats, gloves, and scarves for kids in need.
“Any child is more than welcome to come in,” Sullivan said. “There are no requirements, and they don’t have to fill out any forms. They can just come in and pick out what they want.”
Sullivan’s future plans include offering services for children on the autism spectrum, including sensory swings and special, calming lighting. Sullivan’s own son struggles with the disorder, and she’s read books, been to specialists, and taken online training courses to help manage it. Now she wants to help other local parents who are facing those same issues.
“I wanted there to be a place for all the parents out here to come to with their kids that’s their own,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan also said that working with her son has given her a special understanding of children’s behavior.
“Dealing with this and going through it all with Griffen, I’ve become more patient,” Sullivan said. “I understand why children do the things they do. There’s always a reason why a child reacts the way they do, whether it’s that they’re cold, they’re hungry, or they have a headache. It’s not just ‘acting out’ for no reason. So I look for whatever that reason is and try to fix it.”
Before opening a daycare, Sullivan worked in sales and marketing. She found this didn’t leave much time for her to spend with her son, however.
“I got tired of working 60 hours a week and not seeing him grow up,” Sullivan said. “I love kids. I love teaching them, and I love watching them grow.”
Sullivan worked out of her home until recently, when she decided that she wanted to take on more children, but didn’t have the room to accommodate them. She soon discovered that the old Lookout Point Center, which had been closed for three years, was available for rent, however.
“I fell in love with the place immediately,” Sullivan said. “I came out and looked at it with Pastor Everette, the previous director, and I had the overwhelming feeling that it was meant to be. He said he felt the same way.”
In addition to the Youth Center’s services for parents and children, Sullivan would also like to rent out rooms on the second floor for parties, meetings, and other local activities.
“I definitely want this to be a multi-functional center, a place to help not only children, but be useful to adults as well,” Sullivan said. “It’s always going to be a work in process. I don’t think we’ll ever be done.”
The Lookout Youth Center will hold an Open House Thursday, February 1 at 7 p.m. Those wishing to donate, volunteer, or take advantage of the Center’s services can contact Sullivan at (937)423-1922 or through the Youth Center or Heather’s Daycare Facebook page.
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4315. To join the conversation and get updates on Facebook, search Advocate 360. For more features online, go to dailyadvocate.com
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