Why bring GiGi’s Playhouse to Cincinnati?

Did you know that there are already almost 50 GiGi’s Playhouse locations across the country? And right now, when people in Cincinnati want to experience the magic of GiGi’s Playhouse, they have to drive two hours to Indianapolis! That’s why it’s so important that we bring a GiGi’s Playhouse to Cincinnati. Doing so would benefit our community in countless ways.

What are all the reasons that so many people in Cincinnati are so passionate about opening a local GiGi’s Playhouse location? Here’s what some of our team members had to say.

“I used to travel one or two times per week to the Indianapolis GiGi’s Playhouse location for their programs. I told my family that we’re either moving to Indiana and becoming Hoosiers or we’re bringing a GiGi’s Playhouse to Cincinnati! And now, here we are. Thanks for helping not only our family but a plethora of other families too!”

– Kim O’Madden, mom to Elishia

“I’m a busy mom of a busy family. GiGi’s Playhouse gets us and they’re able to help us. They provide so many resources, they give quick responses and they’re always eager to help or connect us with others if they can’t.”

– Nicole White, mom to Kate

“Having a child with Down syndrome—my amazing daughter, Selah—has been by the far the best, and also the hardest, thing I have ever done in my life. Selah was born in New Jersey. I was so scared to have this child with no real understanding of what the future could hold. We had very limited support there. I started looking for resources in New Jersey and found GiGi’s Playhouse, but there were no locations that were very close to me. I could see from the website and pictures that this was a place that my daughter and I could both go to in order to find real acceptance and community. I knew that I was going to live near a GiGi’s Playhouse somehow… I just didn’t know how! Fast forward two years and my husband got a job in Cincinnati. Happily, I discovered the GiGi’s Playhouse start-up team here in Cincinnati and quickly joined. I drove two hours to visit the GiGi’s Playhouse Indianapolis location and it was just like I thought it would be—an amazing space where Selah can have her own community of people who will celebrate her exactly for who she is. Not only does GiGi’s Playhouse have free programs that are designed especially with Down syndrome in mind, but it also has the sense of caring and community that I want for my whole family. I cannot wait until GiGi’s Playhouse opens in Cincinnati so that all local families can experience for themselves the true greatness of GiGi’s Playhouse!”

– Christine Veotte, mom to Selah

“When my daughter Alice was born and diagnosed with Down syndrome, I remember not knowing where to begin. I was so overwhelmed. I wanted to get her every therapy, class or intervention that would help her become a smart, happy, healthy, contributing member of our world. When I found out about GiGi’s Playhouse, I was so excited. Their mission to help people with Down syndrome from birth through adulthood gave me so much hope for Alice. I couldn’t wait to visit—until I found out that the closest location is two hours away! Bringing GiGi’s Playhouse to Cincinnati would mean so much for Alice, our family and our entire community. Anything that can help Alice and other people with Down syndrome in Cincinnati feel loved, cherished, appreciated and empowered is all I can ask for!”

– Ann Poirier, mom to Alice

“When Kennedy was born, we had almost no resources where we lived. It took a while to connect with our Down syndrome community. Those resources were sparse and inconsistent. Having a place to go to connect immediately and get the support we needed when she was born would have helped in so many ways. I’m upset about every opportunity that’s being missed for Kennedy and other kids with Down syndrome until GiGi’s Playhouse is available in our community.

I wrote a list of my top 15 reasons that I want a GiGi’s Playhouse in Cincinnati.

  1. It’s an amazing national network that supports the local needs of each GiGi’s Playhouse location.
  2. My family needs more continuous and purposeful programming where I can see real progress with Kennedy. GiGi’s Playhouse programs are amazing!
  3. My entire family and anyone else is welcome and included, including Kennedy’s two siblings.
  4. It’s a great opportunity for diversity and inclusion. I’ve heard so many stories about volunteers who have been so positively impacted by their roles at GiGi’s Playhouse that they go on to advocate in the community for people with Down syndrome and other disabilities. I’ve also heard so many stories about people with Down syndrome finding meaningful employment through GiGi’s Playhouse.
  5. GiGi’s Playhouse programs promote mentoring and friendships with people of all ages.
  6. We’ve experienced a large gap in program availability for Kennedy’s age group. GiGi’s Playhouse has support for people of all ages.
  7. Our kids with Down syndrome need more consistency and practice. GiGi’s Playhouse has ongoing, long-term consistency in their programs.
  8. GiGi’s Playhouse programs are research-based and developed especially for kids with Down syndrome. They’re not handed down from another disability that somewhat overlaps.
  9. GiGi’s Playhouse offers a replicable business model—it’s 99% volunteer run with only 5% administrative costs, which means that more money goes directly back to the Down syndrome community.
  10. GiGi’s Playhouse leader, Nancy Gianni, is extremely passionate about creating more awareness and acceptance of Down syndrome.
  11. GiGi’s Playhouse offers so many opportunities. More opportunities equal more empowerment, as families and people with Down syndrome have more choices.
  12. Having a GiGi’s Playhouse in Cincinnati will give a great opportunity for in-person community.
  13. GiGi’s Playhouse is 100% free for all families! The ability to pay does not impact the ability to get great resources. No one will ever be in a position to have to ask to waive costs or fill out extra paperwork. No one is ever asked to reveal their financial status.
  14. Kennedy and I participated in the one-on-one literacy tutoring at the GiGi’s Playhouse location in Indianapolis. She loved it and made significant progress. She always says, ‘Go GiGi’s play!’
  15. The more I learn about GiGi’s Playhouse and the more I experience it, the more I love it!”

– Amy Pennington, mom to Kennedy

So now that you’ve heard why we can’t wait to bring GiGi’s Playhouse to Cincinnati… what’s your “why”?

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