By Doni Dondero
Maryland had just closed its nonessential businesses in March 2020, so what’s a party-planning team to do? Go virtual, of course. GiGi’s members of the Dancetastic Committee and its leaders Olivia and Emily, moved forward with a May 22 dance themed around the 1925 F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, The Great Gatsby.
The art deco style invite announced contests for: best dressed, hat, decorated room, Charleston, and creative hula hooping. And, as they always do, participants responded to the challenge. (See photos) DJ Kris Stone provided the rockin dance music and Fantastic Friends joined together on their electronic devices to make the party memorable. GiGi’s Hillsborough also tuned in to join in the party, demonstrating another way going virtual can offer connections to new friends in other states.
The 1920s is also known for the beginning of The Great Depression, launched by the 1929 stock market crash. On March 22, 2020, 95 years later, in the midst of a booming economy, the novel coronavirus was just digging in in the U.S. and globally, pushing millions to sign up for unemployment.
Here’s the good news, though. The country rallied then and eventually emerged stronger than ever. The cultural and economic changes of the 2020s will also be recorded not just in history, but in the personal lives of every single person in America. GiGi’s Playhouse and its dedicated participants, their families, and loyal volunteers are still working (from home) to create a better life for individuals with Down syndrome through education, community outreach, and much needed connection to one another with fun as a part of every activity.
When can we all return to dances and programs at the Playhouse, no one knows yet, but in the meantime, programs continue online. See GiGi’s calendar for free events and be sure to register so you receive the session link in your confirmation.
** Fantastic Friends supports the development of social skills and language through peer to peer interaction in a casual and fun setting. Along with their peers without Down syndrome, adult participants participate in the planning of activities so that group activities are based on personal interests. During Fantastic Friends, the group may participate in active games, dancing or exploring their local community by participating in outings and events. Adults ages 18 and above.