New nonprofit brings family activities to Copperas Cove

By BRITTANY FHOLER

Cove Leader-Press

A new local non-profit aims to offer a space for children to be unplugged and play like kids used to - before the cell phone, before the iPad and before all the electronics. 

Vonetta Domino, founder of Think Aloud, said she has had this idea for a while and finally brought it to fruition last month. 

April 2 marked the first day of Think Aloud’s Saturday program, and this Saturday, May 7, will mark the second month of activities. 

Think Aloud is free two-hour long program held every other Saturday for children ages 5 to 11, with a focus on play and social skills and bringing kids away from tablets and phones. 

“It’s been years that I’ve been thinking of doing this, but then I’ve recognized recently, there’s kind of a need in our community for activities, healthy activities for kids to do, and so I started looking around to see what’s out there, because I’m a mom myself,” Domino said. “Looking around, I realized that there isn’t a whole lot that the kids can do other than paid activities. Basically, what I want to do, though, is to bring back some of the old ways of growing up, so we’re able to get outside, go scavenger hunting, play games…stuff like that.”

The first Saturday in April saw just two children registered, but now there are as many as 21 signed up, according to Domino. 

Domino rents a space at 216 S. 2nd Street every other Saturday for the Think Aloud program and has capacity for 25 kids currently, but she is looking to expand to a larger space, if there is demand and a need, she said. 

Domino hails from the Caribbean and moved to California around 20 plus years ago. She then met her husband, who served in the military, and their family moved around, as military families are known to do.

“I got to learn a whole lot about diversity, I learned about different cultures,” Domino said. “We lived overseas, and we’ve done a lot of things, and while moving around this area, I worked at the Child Development Center, so that’s pretty much where I’ve been most of my background with kids.”

While working for the Child Development Center, Domino said that she went through training and learned more about taking care of children and their needs. 

After her family moved to the Fort Hood area and her husband retired, Domino began working at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, where she has been for approximately 15 years now, she said.

With her job at the hospital, she said she works with new soldiers, retirees and soldiers who deploy, etc., and it gave her the opportunity to see just how much families are affected by the military life on a daily basis, especially during a deployment where the household temporarily turns into a single-parent home. 

Think Aloud’s two-hour programs offers an opportunity for parents to drop off their child and go accomplish errands or enjoy a moment of free time, while the kids are enjoying playtime and unplugging from electronics. 

“My goal is still to help families, whether it’s a military family, a veteran family, a community family, I just want to help families, and I want to help the kids because I feel like in a kind of way, our kids are in trouble,” Domino said. “They don’t really know how to communicate, how to socialize and they go off of what’s on the screen. So, my program is, ‘Let’s leave the tablets at home.’ Parents, plug them up. Let’s charge them and bring the kids out.”

The activities at Think Aloud focus on art, speech, music, dance, social skills and more. 

The program is at no cost to families, and it includes a light snack approved by the parent, plus each child goes home with a non-perishable care package, which includes items such as pasta, gallon sized bottles of juice, mashed potatoes, jelly, different cans of beans and other food items. 

The next Think Aloud play day is Saturday, May 7. New parents are invited to come register their child by filling out the paperwork Saturday between 9:30 and 9:45 a.m., and the two-hour period will begin after. 

Children must be potty-trained and able to go to the bathroom by themselves and take care of their own needs in order to participate. Children also cannot have any diagnosed behavioral issues in order to participate. 

For more information, visit www.thinkaloud.biz

Copperas Cove Leader Press

2210 U.S. 190
Copperas Cove, TX 76522
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