Write up from the Plano Star Courier

By Kim Williams, kwilliams@acnpapers.com

Published: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 7:32 AM CST
Sarah Morris has a mission for Plano, and it involves moving families from surviving to thriving. She has spearheaded her dream of opening a nonprofit family fun center and saw her dream come to a reality Tuesday at the This Side Up! Family FUN Center open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

As founder and executive director, Morris wants to use her passion for strengthening families to better the community.

She’s spent many years working with families on a professional level, from her own challenging family upbringing and the unique challenges she experiences today as a parent.

These experiences have created a strong desire for inspiring families to turn their focus toward what Morris calls “together” time.

“My mission is to help parents recognize the importance of spending as much time together developing their family’s character as they spend time and money apart from developing their children’s abilities,” Morris said.

Sarah believes that a strong family and home are the foundation for a child’s success.

“I’m convinced that what families do together shape their future and that all family members experience happiness and fulfillment when parents prioritize character and integrity development through fun, quality together-time.”

Morris wants families who might be struggling to know that she believes there is hope.

“At This Side Up! Family FUN Center, we believe that every family can move from barely surviving to having a thriving family life with thought, care and action,” Morris said. “In thriving families, parents take an active role in the family’s well-being and posses the know-how to deal with what each stage of life brings. Thriving families spend time growing together, affirming each other and giving back to their communities, establishing a firm foundation of happiness and success that impacts future generations.”

The 8500-plus square foot fun center has a large family entertainment area where families can talk and learn together at tables, plus a snack bar, parent connection area, counseling services and book and resource center.

“Weekend activities like movie nights, live entertainment and parent/child date nights provide fun together-time, always including an opportunity for parents to teach kids about a value,” Morris said. “On weekdays, parenting education, coffee talks, book clubs and marriage enrichment offer opportunities for parents to learn from both the best outside resources and from the experiences of other parents. Also, planned community involvement activities will allow parents to model for their kids the importance of giving back to others.”

Morris said that the second Saturday of each month is “Thrive-In” Movie Night from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and fourth Saturdays will be Saturday Night THRIVE from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and will feature live entertainment.

“Tuesdays — day and evening — are full of parent education classes and opportunities,” Morris said. “This Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon is M.O.M. Talk — Motivations, Opportunities and Munchies. Tina Ferguson will be speaking on ‘The Power of Dreaming Big: How to move your family from surviving to thriving.’”

Erin Luhring of Plano is a mom and stepmom with three children ages 10, 8 and 2.

“I think this is amazing for our community. I am planning on bringing my two oldest kids to the events — one being my stepdaughter, and I invited her mom,” Luhring said. “We have actually been looking for a neutral ground to meet and hang out with the kids. This Side UP will help keep our families communicating and at peace. I hope other blended families will get the idea, too.”

Micki Allnut of Frisco is a single mom with children ages 13 and 11.

“This Side Up Family Night was an incredible opportunity to bond with my 11-year-old daughter in a family-friendly environment,” Allnut said. “The entertainment and staff were amazing. Every family should take the chance to experience the unique venue that This Side Up has to offer our community.”

For information about the This Side Up! Family FUN Center, visitthissideupfamily.org.