Tanika Harris

Keyanda Thompson | May 13th, 2016
Tanika Harris (Photos by A.C.I.D Photography)

Tanika Harris (Photos by A.C.I.D Photography)

Thankful, humble, and loyal. Those were the words that Tanika Harris described as her feelings when walking into her child care center each morning, three years ago. Those same feelings are true this day except she has decided to add faithful. Much has changed in three years but Tanika’s faith has not and it has helped her overcome what seemed to be tumultuous circumstances. “The past two years have been quite challenging but the lessons I have learned I will value for years to come,” she says.

In 2011, Educational Playtime Too! Inc. moved into its current facility on St. Leo’s Street with very few children and high hopes for growth. The growth came but, along with the blessings came obstacles. In 2014 the building she currently is leasing was put on the market for sale. The reality of having to purchase was exciting and intense. She always dreamed of purchasing the facility but being forced was not how she thought she would acquire this great asset. Plans began to be put in place. Tanika says “I could not fathom not being able to service the families whom supported me for the past 11 years.” As to not startle her parents, she began to face this situation head on, alone. Many turned her down and called her a “risk.” A successful black woman trying to better the black community was considered a risk she questioned. She tried various avenues to begin the purchasing process to keep the facility in place.

When the sky seemed to be cloudy and no light could be seen at the end of the tunnel, Tanika took a risk herself and asked for the help of others. She reached out to a couple of the parents within the facility, friends, and family whom she thought would help her keep EPToo! doors open. “Over this two year journey I have lost some friends, I’ve even lost some family but what I have not lost is my faith in God and the purpose he has for me,” says Tanika. She believes this process opened her eyes to the people she was keeping around in her life.

She stepped out on faith and now she is stepping into favor. The biggest obstacle the owner/operator had when making the decision to step out on faith was leaving the area she has serviced for 11 years. She states, she searched for buildings in the area but every time it felt like the right decision, God told her no. It is now obvious that He had something better in store. “It’s funny how God brings things full circle and how He’s working things out even before there is a problem,” she says. When none of the buildings panned out on the north side of town, Tanika sought out a center she once worked at as her first professional job in child care. She dreamed of owning it and God had it all planned out. The center has eight classrooms, three grand playground areas, two huge offices, lots of storage, and nestled in a great neighborhood—on the opposite side of town of her St. Leo’s Street location. She questioned how she could leave the community she’s known for the past 11 years. How would she start all over. In the midle of her questioning God kept telling her not to worry.

She had fought to stay in a building that was not accommodating and tried to find buildings that were not quite right and ‘just make due’. Tanika remained faithful and accepted what the Lord had for her. She signed her name on the dotted line and the building was hers; at least that’s what she thought. The struggle however, was not over. Upon acquiring the new center she found that she was unable to accommodate the two daycares occupying the building. When learning of the news, the occupants did not find great happiness in allowing a newcomer in their facility and refused to leave. She was ridiculed by not being allowed to step foot into her own building. Yet she stood strong and overcame.

Was it worth the struggle and the consistent inconsistencies? Tanika declares yes, and everything that has happened was used to make her stronger. She hopes through sharing her story she can be a calming spirit and help to plant seeds of faith in others. She has stood strong through the difficulty and has reached goals set for her by God. “There have been many lessons from this blessing; not only for myself, but for those I mentor and hopefully those reading this article.”

On June 13th Educational Playtime Too! Inc. will be opening not one but two centers. The first will be located on Spring Garden Street servicing families with children ages six weeks to 12 years. The second facility is located on Yanceyville Street. This facility will house an after school and summer camp program for children ages three and up. The facility will also accommodate Tanika’s second business, Twirling Divas & Dancers Performing Arts Studio.

Along with working endlessly to open these two centers; Tanika and her mentee, Keyanda Thompson have worked together to open a secondary company. Props Academy will serve as a sister center to Educational Playtime Too! Inc. and will be housed in Savannah, Georgia. The center will service children ages five to 12 and will incorporate various forms of art as a premise for learning. The academy will utilize art brushes, dance equipment, writing utensils, etc as props for learning. Props Academy is also a mentoring program which focuses on building the whole child and helping them to build one another. Respect yourself and give others props when due. Doors will open May 23rd for summer camp.

The excitement is obvious and although she states the nervousness is present, it is not apparent when speaking to Tanika. “I am ready to take on the world, I am ready to help others, I am ready to continue educating, I am ready to receive God’s grace; I am just ready,” she says.

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