Leah Brooks had worked as a special education teacher in the public school system for 13 years when she thought a change was necessary.
“I thought I wasn’t making a big enough difference, you go into teaching to change lives,” she said, “and I felt like I wasn’t impacting enough families, or enough lives.”
Brooks said she had heard about the need for daycare in Eppensburg and the difficulty of finding childcare.
“It was time for a change, and it was a way that I could really impact a lot of families and a lot of children’s lives and futures by starting from the beginning,” she said.
Two years ago, she quit her teaching job and started a daycare at home with several children, then moved into the current building at 302 Reddinger Street, where the Barrels of Fun Discovery Center is located, after her brother closed down his computer business there. .
The center opened in September and offers a Reggio Emilia and Montessori inspired learning experience led by children and filled with outdoor activities. The center can take care of up to 60 children.
“It was a huge undertaking, but it was definitely worth it,” Brooks said.
She said she wanted the center to be not only a day care home, but a community space as well.
“Outside of daycare hours, I want this to be a place where you can have birthday parties, open exploration times, and have more things for pre-teens and older kids to do,” Brooks said.
“So I’m not sure where this will take me. We started with day care, but we have a lot of ideas to keep growing and we have a great summer program for school-age kids.”
Open play sessions cost a small fee and give kids a chance to play with different games, Brooks said. She added that the center has also held several parents’ nights, where children can play and participate in activities and parents can support local businesses.
She plans to expand the offerings because she wants Kegs of Fun to be a place for the community.
“Our community is turning young again. I feel like it went through a phase where it didn’t have that many kids, but now I feel like our community is young again and I want to grow with our community,” she said.
“I just love my city. I love Ebensburg. I was born and raised here, and I feel like it’s something we need. We need something for our young people and a place to go.”
In October, the center hosted a family-friendly Oktoberfest, which Brooks said kicked off events in the community hosted by Barrels of Fun.
In December, the center will host Santa Claus Days, where Santa will visit on Sunday and kids can make sundae sundaes with Santa and play at the center.
Brooks said the center is also available for event rentals.