A Parent’s Perspective: By Amanda Stowell
GiGi’s Playhouse has been one of the best resources for my family. My son Joshua who is 8 years old, and doesn’t have Down Syndrome, is always asking to go there because he makes friends every time we attend a program. Even just the mention of GiGi’s Playhouse to my son Kayden, who is 11 years old, gets him excited. As soon as we pull into the parking lot, he starts cheering in excitement. It warms my heart to see him so enthusiastic about a place where he obviously feels welcomed and accepted. Most of the time as parents we are so worried to take our children with special needs to places like gyms or activity centers because we know not everyone understands our children. At GiGi’s Playhouse you never have to worry about that! The Volunteer Leaders for the group activities are so knowledgeable in working with our children. They even know sign language, which is so hard to find.
We recently attended the new Kids Club for youth ages 8-12. Kayden felt right at home at GiGi’s Playhouse. As soon as he gets out of the car he is dancing in the parking lot yelling “Yay Yay GiGi.” He knows right where to go! The activities are so much fun and engaging. Kayden really enjoyed his first age group specific program. While he felt it was all just fun, there is a thoughtful lesson plan for each program session and a purpose to all the activities they are engaged in be it increasing social, gross or fine motor, or communication skills! When his dad came home from work that night he was telling him about his new friends, showing him his visor he made, and trying to get him to do some of the stretching he learned. Kayden’s age group is often missed or left out of activities in the Down Syndrome community, so it was valuable for him to be around like peers who are his age. I really hope GiGi’s Playhouse keeps offering programming for his age group because it is an opportunity for Kayden, along with his brother, to have fun together while developing skills that will serve them their whole life.
We all just love GiGi’s Playhouse! Everyone at GiGi’s Playhouse Annapolis is so friendly, and they live by their motto: Educate, Inspire, Believe! If as a parent you are seeking a place where your child will grow, find belonging, and build friendships while gaining confidence, here is the resource you need. We cannot wait to go back to GiGi’s Playhouse! As Kayden says, “Yay Yay GiGi!”
Editor’s note: To RSVP for upcoming programs, visit the online calendar… LMNOP (0-3 year olds), Leaps & Bounds (3-5), Playhouse Pals (5-8), Kids Club (8-12), Teen Tastic (13-18), GiGiFIT (13-18), Fantastic Friends (18+).