Did you know that GiGi’s Playhouse serves over 25,000 families (just like mine!) and offers over 232,000 program hours annually!?! Allow me to tell you why it’s hugely important to support GiGi’s Playhouse, and why as a parent, I will always make it a priority regardless of our financial situation.
1. There’s nowhere else like it.
GiGi’s is the only organization for individuals with Down syndrome that offers brick and mortar locations. There are currently over 60 brick Playhouses in the United States (and 1 in Mexico). Like many families, we heard about GiGi’s shortly after our daughter Nora’s at-birth diagnosis. We were pleasantly surprised that a Playhouse was located within 30 minutes of our home and made contact with the then Site Manager, Diane Husar, who was also the founder of the Tinley Park location.
GiGi’s is also available virtually through the GiGi’s At Home virtual platform which was rolled out during the COVID pandemic. Within 3 weeks of shutting down, this amazing platform was introduced to families all over the world and offers live and on demand programming for all ages! It has currently reached over 80 countries!!
2. Our children are ALWAYS celebrated.
I still get emotional whenever I speak about the first time we visited GiGi’s because it had such a profound impact on my life. The feeling that I felt upon entering the Playhouse was unlike any other, and it was the first time someone had made me feel proud that I had a child with Down syndrome. This is the experience that many parents like myself have the first time they visit a GiGi’s. Our children are always celebrated and we are given praise, encouragement, and congratulations instead of being told “I’m sorry”.
3. The programming is impactful and free of charge to individuals with Down syndrome and their families.
Nora is now eight and is thriving. She currently attends literacy tutoring once a week with her tutor of 3 years, Elizabeth. Nora and Elizabeth have a special bond and Elizabeth is so patient and supportive of Nora. We are grateful for the time they both spend together and for the progress Nora has made.
I can’t imagine a world without GiGi’s. I am grateful for the support we receive and for the programs that Nora has been able to attend over the years that have so positively impacted her life. They truly are LIFE CHANGING.
4. GiGi’s makes an impact not only individuals with Down syndrome, but on their families too.
GiGi’s has made a huge impact on not only myself and my husband, but my other children, Ben (9) and Penelope (4) as well. I am a firm believer that all the time they have both spent at GiGi’s has shaped them into better people. They are both kind, loving, sensitive, and always willing to stand up for others. They have grown up in a place where people with Down syndrome are accepted and no different than anyone else. They are both extremely proud of their sister, and are her biggest cheerleaders.
5. It’s is 99% volunteer run.
Volunteers truly are the heart of GiGi’s Playhouse. They dedicate their time and talent to help change lives everyday. There are so many wonderful people who have helped Nora at programs over the years and made a positive impact in her life. We are grateful for every single one.
6. The GiGi’s mission is to change the way the world views Down syndrome.
GiGi’s is actively changing the way the world views Down syndrome. I am so grateful for the message that GiGi’s sends to the world: our kids can and will change it.
We are so grateful for GiGi’s and the impact it has made on our daughter’s life. If you want to get involved, you can volunteer your time, donate, or simply spread the message of acceptance. Learn more at gigisplayhouse.org/tinleypark.
Beth K, Nora’s Mom
Gigis has been such s blessing to so many families..