joujou des moines

Our Health Community: JouJou

Abbie SawyerOur Health Community

joujou des moinesIn this month’s edition of Our Health Community, we are honored to spotlight our neighbors at JouJou, owned and founded by Amanda Wiebers and Jenny Johnson. Our team has loved taking our own kiddos to JouJou since they opened. The enriching playtime, lovely atmosphere and gentle approach to childhood make for a rich experience every visit.

Our own Chris LoRang has teamed up to present about Baby-Led Movement several times over the years. We are thankful for what they do for children, families and communities here in DSM. There is so much to enjoy about JouJou: find all the details below!

Why did you start JouJou?

JouJou started because we realized as parents with multiple kids under 5, there was no place in the Metro where our children could be engaged in play in a safe, clean and developmentally appropriate way (especially for children under 15 months). Between our two life stages at the time (working a fulltime role with odd hours while the other transitioned back to Des Moines as a full time caregiver), we were also really at a loss for community with other parents. We both craved the chance to bring new parents together when they are really figuring out these new pieces of their identities.

joujou des moines

Has JouJou evolved over time?

We started really following Montessori-style in the entire play space; closed-ended toys, “real life” sort of approach to play. Since we’ve been open, we’ve begun to incorporate more open-ended, practical-life focused toys into the space like our baby doll and accessories, tea set, and a car garage with cars to explore. It’s also been really fun to start up our “Out and About” series, which brings play to places that adults typically are – and perhaps used to spend time in – to foster community and showcase that families belong in the same spaces as adults.

joujou des moines

What makes your approach unique?

Everything…EVERYTHING in our space is built with intentionality behind it for children 0-5 and their caregivers. There are lots of little pieces to JouJou (such as a bouncer for babies to lounge in while their bigger sibling uses the bathroom with a parent’s help) that don’t get noticed until someone needs it. Then, BAM, it’s there. Our Montessori-inspired concept is unique as well. Montessori itself is an educational pedagogy (fancy word for “teaching”) that became super sought after in the pandemic when only looking at it surface-level (natural materials, toys in baskets). But Montessori really encourages a balance of letting your child do some harder things – use a glass jar, for instance – as well as observing what they are drawn two, and engaging those interests through play. JouJou is meant to be enjoyed together, parent and child.

How does JouJou help people and the community?

I think the most impactful piece of our puzzle is we’ve (Amanda and Jenny) have been in those trenches – that deep, lonely part of parenthood – and we want to be a light for those that might need it. Six days of the week, families come in and get to experience at least one meaningful adult interaction outside the house when they see us. The community we’re trying to build outside the walls of JouJou is one of love and respect for families and for the littlest citizens of the world, regardless of means or background. Our Access discount offers 50% off drop-in play for any family that utilizes state assistance programs, and we’re a permanent drop off location for Start Small Project, a diaper program that provides wipes and diapers for immigrant families.

What do you love about the Des Moines community?

The small-town city feel Des Moines has is second to none, and it’s almost always a good thing. Whether it’s us connecting the dots between friends that might come play separately, or catching a family we know from JouJou at Costco or a restaurant – it’s always fun realizing Des Moines is never THAT big!

What’s coming up at JouJou?

Our second birthday also lands on May 2, but we’re celebrating all through the month with giveaways, discounts and fun things for our members! Our events calendar has all the details of everything we do – social media (Instagram and Facebook) is the best place to catch it all in real time.

Anything else you’d like to share?

We are so proud to be the first locally owned and operated indoor play space for children 0-5 in the Metro. The last three years (one building and two in operation) have definitely given us hurdles and challenges but also allowed us to be creative, intentional, and confident with how we want to show up for Des Moines and its families!

About the Our Health Community Series

“Our Health Community” is a blog series by Capital Chiropractic & Rehabilitation Center designed to celebrate health-centered causes, services, and businesses in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Explore “Our Health Community.”

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