Visitors from Nigeria!

GiGi’s Atlanta often has walk-in visitors to the Playhouse but today we had some exceptional guests! Tonye Faloughi-Ekezie and her sister walked in while on a US visit from Lagos, Nigeria. Tonye has a 7 year old daughter with Down syndrome named Simone. The arrival of Simone brought many questions from her family and friends about Down syndrome that she was not prepared to answer. She realized that African children and children with special needs have very few learning and entertainment resources which have them represented in the characters. The greatest tool for intolerance is misunderstanding and Tonye knew the best way to educate others on Down syndrome was to increase representation. This led to the creation of Simone’s Oasis; a Nigerian based edutainment platform with a goal in creating content for black and African children including those with special needs.

Not only has Tonye published books, she leads creative writing workshops at schools around the world using Down syndrome and special needs as the central focus. Her organization has created music videos, a podcast, and a strong social media presence to spread awareness of individuals with Down syndrome and what they can achieve. In Nigeria, Down syndrome and other disabilities are still viewed as shameful, a curse, and even witchcraft! Tonye is on a mission to change these views! A simple Google search while in Roswell lead her to GiGi’s and she and the staff bonded immediately over shared experiences. It was so inspiring to hear her talk about Simone and all she has done to promote the abilities of those with Dwon syndrome. While she and her family reside on a different continent, our goals are aligned, and we are already looking forward to her next visit to the States as we work together to help break stereotypes and spread global acceptance!

The next time you’re in our Playhouse, pick up one of Tonye’s books and read about the adventures of Sim Sim and her brother, Ugo! The Faloughi-Ekezie family is out to change the world! We are honored to have met their mom today and can’t wait to meet these stars in person!

Tonye (center) her sister, and staff shared a great visit at the Playhouse!

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