• Sat. May 14th, 2022

3 new children’s play and support group rooms open on Long Island

ByJulie J. Helfer

May 11, 2022

Half a dozen parents and their babies and toddlers sit in a circle facing Krysta Ferrara, who strums her guitar. “I’m so happy to be here for the opening day of Oh My Goodness in Port Washington,” she exclaims, and is greeted by a multitude of babies shaking bells in response.

Oh My Goodness, a children’s wellness center, opened in Garden City in 2020. The Long Island sisters who own it launched their second location in April, kicking off opening day with a music and more. And they hope to open a third location in Huntington Village.

Oh My Goodness isn’t the only family-friendly Long Island spot whose success has spawned an expansion this spring. The Nesting Place in Farmingdale, which caters to expectant parents before their child is born and continues to provide them with a gathering place until children reach the age of 6, has opened a second location in Yaphank in April and opens a third location in Merrick on Friday.

Here are the details of the new locations:

Oh my God

Oh My Goodness presents itself as a wellness center for young people. The new Port Washington storefront is adjacent to The Dolphin Bookshop, and there’s even a breakout so families can go from Oh My Goodness to the bookstore and back.

Vivi Gaber, 1, with her mother Meg, of Manhasset, center, attends a music class at Oh My Goodness in Port Washington.
Credit: Danielle Silverman

A play area with a winding tube slide, ball pit and play area with toys allows children to explore free play. An open concept classroom is used for art and music lessons, yoga, mindfulness and meditation sessions and even children’s breathing classes which teach children to breathe in anxious situations, says Margaret Elenis, 31, of Franklin Square, who owns the place with her. sister, Katerina, 28, of Bayside. The sisters grew up in the floral park. Elenis is the mother of a 6 year old child and a toddler.

A cafe area allows parents to relax and order coffees and smoothies as well as healthy kid-friendly foods such as Ezekiel Bread Toasted Cheese.

“I like that it’s for babies. They can socialize and play,” says Christopher Serna, 34, from West Hempstead, an entrepreneur who attended the opening day music class with his wife, Sully Arias-Serna, 34, a stay-at-home parent, and their daughter, Ayla, 10 months.

The Port Washington address is at 301 Main St. The original location is at 61 New Hyde Park Rd., Garden City. 516-636-5444, ohmygoodnesskids.com.

The nesting place

The Nesting Place opened its first location in Farmingdale in 2020 after spending a year operating out of a yoga studio in West Islip and then online at the height of the pandemic. Farmingdale, Yaphank and Merrick all offer exercise and yoga classes, including prenatal and postnatal classes, birth and baby preparation classes, newborn and breastfeeding support groups, parenting and wellness workshops, massage therapy, sleep coaching, and occupational therapy and speech therapy.

Avery Mischke, of Commack, and his 7-month-old son Kaden are taking...

Avery Mischke, from Commack, and son Kaden, 7 months, attend a moms social and support group at Nesting Place in Farmingdale in 2020.
Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Each location consists of a classroom and an art studio. The new Yaphank site is the largest of the three; it adds a children’s play area decorated with a rainbow and loaded with wooden items and other educational toys. “It was something moms were looking for in their own communities,” says co-founder Laura Siddons, explaining why The Nesting Place grew.

Ashley Ott, 34, a medical assistant from Riverhead, recently visited the Yaphank site for the first time with her 10-month-old daughter, Lilly, to treat herself to a lymphatic drainage massage. Staff members babysat Lilly during Ott’s session for an additional fee. “It’s supposed to help your body detox,” Ott says of the massage.

Jessica Paterno, a real estate agent from Manorville, also visited for the first time recently with her 3-year-old son, Thomas, and 17-month-old son, Bradley, for a free play session. “I was just interested in trying it out,” she says. Although she says it seemed more intended to entertain her younger son, her eldest son enjoyed it as well. “He didn’t want to leave,” she said.

Farmingdale’s location is at 2043 Wellwood Ave., Suite 1. Yaphank’s location is at 95 Horseblock Rd. Merrick’s location is at 2150 Merrick Mall. thenestingplaceli.com, 631-318-3382. Classes start at $22.