Once a year we gather together with playhouses all over the country, and Mexico, to share best practices, stories of inspiration, challenges we have faced and overcome, and to learn about new technology and program launches we have to look forward to in the next year. The GiGi’s National Conference is a chance for us to refuel our tank and bring the best new ideas back to our playhouse. This year we were inspired by amazing speeches from Amanda Booth, Mom and Model, Kelle Hampton, Mom and Author, and adult advocate Kiera. It is incredible to see a room full of people celebrating Down syndrome and doing everything they can to ensure that our loved ones have every opportunity to be their #bestofall.
One conference tradition is to share one word to describe your playhouse in the current year and one word to describe what you will be in the upcoming year. Our president Alyse stood up and described 2021 as a “scrappy” year for Deerfield and used “determined” as our word for 2022. Scrappy is the perfect word to encompass 2021, a year where we:
- Worked to recover from a pandemic and make the playhouse a safe place for families to gather and participants to socialize
- Helped our kids begin to fill in the gaps from any regressions that happened while they were virtual learning with our educational and therapeutic programming
- Hosted two brand new events
- Fought hard to rebuild our finances after 2020 knocked us down
- Added some fun new features to the playhouse like a rock wall and full-size refrigerator
- AND STILL managed to launch new programs and bring back some of our family’s favorite programs
We are “determined” to make 2022 the best year we have ever had, adding new programs to the lineup, connecting to more schools to ensure our kids are truly included in their communities, building new partners with local businesses, and more.
At conference GiGi’s Playhouse Deerfield was asked to participate on a panel teaching other playhouses how to be successful at their GiGiFIT Acceptance Challenge 5K’s. It is because of all of YOU that we were given this honor. YOU made this year’s 5K an incredible one, helping us to be in the top three playhouses across the country, leading over much larger playhouses. We are so proud of our families and our network of friends and supporters.