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New indoor playground offers cool fun for kids in Green Valley

Green Valley grandmother opens Jojo's Playhouse to provide more kid-friendly options in area
Posted at 6:33 PM, Jul 10, 2024

GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. (KGUN) — As temperatures soar to record highs across Pima County, parents are seeking indoor activities to keep their children entertained and safe from the summer heat.

JoJo's Playhouse, a newly opened indoor playground in Green Valley, comes just in time for families looking for child-friendly fun while beating the heat. The playhouse, which officially opened its doors on July 3rd, offers a haven for children to play, make friends and stay cool.

Laura Vebber, the owner of JoJo's Playhouse, was inspired to create this space after observing the challenges posed by the pandemic lockdowns on her grandson, JoJo.

"My grandson, he’s 4, he’s a COVID baby,” Vebber said. “He was born in April of 2020 so he didn’t really go anywhere in the first year of his life."

A visit to the Tucson Children's Museum highlighted the importance of social interaction for her grandson, JoJo, but the long trip from Green Valley made frequent visits impractical.

"It was quite a trek from Green Valley,” Vebber said. “So when we came home, I just started thinking, it’s a shame there’s not more things in this area for kids to do, especially for the little ones."

This was especially during the extreme heat of summer. "There’s outdoor parks, but summertime is just miserable," she said.

Recognizing the need for a local, child-friendly venue, Vebber decided to take action.

In 2022, she began her search for a suitable location with the help of a realtor.

Much like the slides at JoJo’s Playhouse, Vebber says there were lots of “ups and downs” in getting the facility set up. The building was a former bank, and still contained a vault, which is now covered up by an air conditioner.

The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive. Bridgette, a local resident who visited the Playhouse with her daughter, Amelia, expressed her gratitude.

“There’s not a lot to do and she’s an only child,” she said, referring to Amelia. “So this way it gets us out of the house, keeps us in the AC and burns some energy."

Beyond providing a fun and cool environment, JoJo's Playhouse serves a deeper purpose. Vebber notes how the pandemic reminded us of the need for connection in everyday life.

"We’re all humans and we need that interaction,” Vebber said. “Especially the young kids.".

JoJo's Playhouse features an array of attractions, including slides, ball pits, and more, specifically designed for children aged six and under. The age restriction was put in place due to space limitations. Vebber says that, in the future, she looks to hold events for older kids.

She says that she’s been touched by the positive response to the playhouse.

"The need was here all along, and the parents that are reaching out to us are just thankful that we’re here because there’s nothing else,” she said. “I wasn’t the only grandmother with children, or mom, that didn’t have a place for their kids to go."

The playhouse will celebrate its grand opening on July 20th, offering tours and giveaways for children and parents.

JoJo's Playhouse is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 9 AM to 6 PM and is located at 101 W Esperanza Blvd in Green Valley.

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Joel Foster is a multimedia journalist at KGUN 9 who previously worked as an English teacher in both Boston and the Tucson area. Joel has experience working with web, print and video in the tech, finance, nonprofit and the public sectors. In his off-time, you might catch Joel taking part in Tucson's local comedy scene. Share your story ideas with Joel at joel.foster@kgun9.com, or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram or X.