Barry Books and Cooks Inspiration at 60!

At 60 years of age, Barry Burris is the oldest participant at GiGi’s Playhouse in Fort Meyers, Florida. A few years ago, Barry decided to improve his literacy skills. He was a level two reader at the time and had not received any formal literacy instruction since high school. With help from GiGi’s Playhouse One-On-One Literacy Tutoring Program, and his wonderfully supportive sister, Wendy Headrick, Barry began to refine his reading and writing competency with tenacity.

While some people were finding the global pandemic discouraging, Barry did not waiver from his literacy journey. When the playhouse was required to cease in-person programs, Barry’s tutor, Alex, sent Wendy books and worksheets so Barry could hone his skills and be better prepared for virtual instruction.

Barry’s favorite educational activity was practicing sight words. Alex created flashcards and held the cards up for Barry to read on the computer. This effective exercise helped Barry recognize words with fluidity, and build his vocabulary.

Alex also sent Wendy recipes so Barry and Alex could virtually cook together. While each was in their own kitchens, Barry learned how to read the recipes, follow directions, and create healthy snacks that he and Alex enjoyed separately, but together.

Barry and Wendy were also able to take walks around their neighborhood every day. They took photos of people they met and interesting things they saw along the way, such as the burrowing owls in the open fields. When they returned from their walks, Barry and Wendy would select favorite photos, caption them, and compile them. With his new literacy skills and his compilation of photos, Barry wrote “Barry’s Book About Walking”. With immense pride, Barry loves to share his new book now with family and friends.

Barry is a miracle and a true inspiration. In 1980, the life expectancy of a person with Down syndrome was 26, and today it has grown to 60+ years old! Providing opportunities for people with Down syndrome to interact, engage, learn, and grow has dramatically improved their quality of life and overall health.  GiGi’s Playhouse is honored to provide such programming for FREE to Barry and all of our friends living with an extra chromosome.


More About Barry Burris:

Barry participates in GiGiFit and loves attending Fantastic Friends at GiGi’s Playhouse Fort Meyers. While virtual tutoring was a success for Barry, he much prefers to be back in the Playhouse for his literacy sessions. He also helps at the Playhouse by shredding documents. He loves playing bingo, dancing, coloring intricate art designs, and singing karaoke. Barry has been a GiGi’s ambassador to other non-profit organizations in his community and recently presented Valentine cards that Fantastic Friends made to a local food bank.

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