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Getting in the Swing of Things

Gateway Swings: Tailored to Your Kids

Getting the kids to play outside is easy if they have a great backyard playground.

One look at the Facebook page for Gateway Swings and it’s easy to see why Paul Draher’s family-owned O’Fallon business has been and continues to be so successful. With hundreds of satisfied customers and dozens of reviews that laud this best-kept secret, Gateway Swings is a must-visit for any family thinking of installing an activity center in their backyard.

To understand how Paul came about this unique business idea, you have to know his background. He has a Masters in Education (he’s working on his doctorate), and for 10 years he worked in Daniell Middle School, north of Atlanta, primarily with kids who had learning disabilities. Through that experience, he realized the value of unstructured play.

"Schools and educational institutions are doing the best they can, but they are really rigid about their days. Schools are asked to do so many things from social work, to development, to standardized tests that it really doesn’t allow for any flexibility,” Paul says. “What they’re not able to do is give the kids unstructured play.”

What’s important about that concept, Paul says, is that when kids are at play, their brain works in reverse and becomes the creator, soaking up the information they’ve received all day long.

“What they’ve learned throughout the day sinks in,” he explains.

Enter the idea for Gateway Swings, a business centered around the interests and passion of the children who will use the equipment, affording them the outlet they need after being in a structured environment all day long.

Whether your child is artistic or dreams of being a ninja warrior, Paul can design a playground that caters to your child’s interests. For those kids who need to burn off energy, there are rope swings; for kids who just want a place to chill and create, he can build them a clubhouse that can morph into a rocket ship or an art studio.

Paul schedules a home visit to sit down with the family; he factors in what the family likes to do and asks thoughtful questions in order to gain a better understanding of what it is they want for their children and what the children are interested in.

“We work with each family. We get to know them and collaborate with them. And then build this center for the family.”

While he still looks at himself as the “new kid on the block,”↔the business is only 2 years old—he believes Gateway Swings and the idea behind it is as solid as the cedar wood his play centers are made from.

Paul says the best feedback he gets from the parents is that the kids “use the playground all the time—whether it’s hot or cold outside,” and more importantly, “it’s not technology.”

Currently, Paul employs his 6-year-old son and has bestowed the title of Vice President of Quality Control upon him, while his older brother by two years recently earned his first sales commission.

Gateway Swings is located at 9031 Veterans Memorial Parkway in O'Fallon. For more information, call 636.294.7779 or visit GatewaySwings.com or follow them at Facebook.com/GatewaySwings.

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