For many new parents, particularly those with limited resources and support, welcoming a child to the family can be both a joy and a challenge. Therefore, HelloBaby was created as a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support, empower and inspire families raising young children in underserved neighborhoods in Chicago. HelloBaby provides free programming and a safe play space for families with a newborn or young child.
In 2021, GiGi’s Playhouse Chicago formed a community partnership with HelloBaby to expand access to therapeutic services for infants, toddlers, and their families of residents of the South and West side of Chicago. This partnership created a perfect opportunity for us to offer Language, Music ‘N Our Peeps (LMNOP) and welcome new families to the GiGi’s Playhouse Chicago family!
Occupational Therapy Capstone Student, Leah Schenider, has been a program lead for HelloBaby LMNOP since September 2021. In January, HelloBaby was forced to close its doors due to the pandemic. However, this did not stop GiGi’s Playhouse Chicago from continuing its partnership and providing families with therapeutic services. In collaboration with the Child Development and Family Center at UIC, Leah created Take-Home Snow-Day Kits that involved a free book with associated sign language, yoga cards, and a craft kit. These activities not only provided families with free activities to do at home, it also provided the children with therapeutic opportunities for growth.
Hellobaby’s doors are open once again, and LMNOP programming is better than ever! Every week, LMNOP provides an interactive and engaging program that guides parents and young children through learning basic sign language and other forms of communication while using music and language-based activities. Program lead, Leah, stated,
“I am grateful I was able to continue this community partnership between HelloBaby and GiGi’s Playhouse Chicago. Not only did I grow as an Occupational Therapist by leading this group of young children and families on a weekly basis, but I have grown to love the nonprofit world”.
With the generous grant provided by The Chicago Board of Trade, GiGi’s Playhouse Chicago seeks to continue and expand this partnership with HelloBaby and other partners throughout Chicago’s West and Southside neighborhoods.
*HelloBaby x GiGi Playhouse Chicago is looking for a new program lead! This is a great opportunity for any future or current Speech and Language or Occupational Therapy students! If you are interested please contact, email@example.com.