By: Doni Dondero
“Being introduced to GiGi’s Playhouse has been an amazing experience for our family,” says Lily’s mom. “Our daughter Lily is 9, soon to be 10, as she tells everyone.” She is going into 4th grade at her home school in Glen Burnie where she participates in an altered curriculum class so that she is taught at a pace that is good for her. She has her specials with her general education peers and most of her therapy times are within the classroom. Mom says, “This has worked out very well for her as she has her needs met, but still is building relationships with the kids that live in our neighborhood.”
Because Lily is an only child, other than school most of her socializing is with adults. According to the family, her vocabulary is great but, her social skills with her peers are challenging at times. This is where GiGi’s has been great to get her socializing with her age group in an environment that Mom feels is comfortable. “I don’t feel like I have to police her as much at GiGi’s as I do when we are on play dates.”
Lily loves music, dancing, swimming and gymnastics. She is currently taking private swim lessons and is doing a fantastic job. Lily has a lot of feeding challenges, however, and spends a lot of time in therapy for chewing. Lily also has a protein intolerance that has resulted in a very limited diet. Due to this, attending events that are based on food are challenging for the family. Mom notes that most of what they have attended at GiGi’s has not had food, which is another relief for the family, so that they can step back and give Lily her independence during these events.
“Lily has loved everything from the Kids Club program, play groups, yoga, dance and most recently drum circle. Everyone at the Playhouse is so welcoming. The maturity and kindness of the high schoolers that volunteer has made it an extra special experience for Lily as she gravitates towards teenagers!” Mom says.
“It means the world for us to have a safe, happy and inclusive place to go for fun and new experiences. I feel
the needs of Lily and our community have been met very well at GiGi’s.”
Mom recounts her feelings about a GiGi’s event saying, “Recently we attended a GiGi’s Playhouse group outing to the Urban Pirate ship in Baltimore. It was such a fun experience. It was very well organized, thanks to Playhouse Pals program Leader Jessica. The pirate staff made it fun for all, from funny name tags, tattoos, treasures, to music and games. Lily loved spraying the pirate with the water cannon, playing “hot coconut”, limbo and joining the Conga line. There was a treasure chest filled with goodies too.
GiGi’s Playhouse has been a true treasure to us!”