As we enter the holiday season, many of us desire to stay focused on what this season is about – time with family, being thankful, expressing gratitude, giving gifts to bring joy to our loved ones. However, the hustle and bustle of the season, retail frenzy, Black Friday and Cyber Monday can often steal the joy, gratitude and generosity that we want to experience during the holidays.
Enter GivingTuesday. Started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, it is a response to commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season. Since then GivingTuesday has grown into an international day of charitable giving.
We here at GiGi’s Playhouse Detroit are so grateful for all the amazing people who generously support us through giving of their time, expertise and financial resources. In January we will celebrate the first anniversary of our doors being open. Over the past 10 months we have served 578 individuals with Down syndrome and their families through our purposeful programs. Get to know two of them below.
Clark Daniel is 13 years old and is participating in our current Fall Literacy Tutoring program. Hope Daniel, Clark’s Mom shared, “Clark is blessed to be one of twenty students selected for the very first literacy program held at GiGi’s Playhouse Detroit.” By week three Hope already noticed a change in him that she says has been amazing. “He adores his tutor and talks about going to GiGi’s to read every single day. He’s more willing to read, do his homework, and recognizes print more often in his everyday life. Most importantly, he sees himself as a reader.”
Hope also said, “Thank you to everyone at GiGi’s for bringing this national program, free of charge, to the Detroit Playhouse. I am forever grateful to all the teachers and aides who helped ready him for this part of his journey. It takes a village, and our village rocks!”
Voshon is one of our adult participants and he first got connected to GiGi’s Playhouse when Board Member and long-time friend of the family, Latonya Morgan, invited him to participate in our “A Night on the Red Carpet” fashion show in 2018. He and his Mom Katrina also attended our Grand Opening in January.
Voshon started participating in Fantastic Friends and then jumped in to the GiGiFIT Adult pilot program this summer. A skilled Physical Therapist designed our series of GiGiFIT programs. It helps participants build strength, endurance, power, joint stability, balance, and movement control. GiGiFIT empowers participants to be more independent and confident in their abilities while improving their overall health and wellness. Katrina reports that Voshon is making an effort to eat healthy since participating in GiGiFIT. As a result, it has helped his entire family to focus on healthy eating.
Katrina hopes Voshon will gain more confidence and independence through participating in programs at GiGi’s Playhouse. And he’s already demonstrating some of that. Voshon looks forward to going to Fantastic Friends and GiGiFIT. Katrina shared, “He has the dates for Fantastic Friends and GiGiFIT on the calendar in his phone. He will remind me two days ahead of time that he is going to each program.”
The programs at GiGi’s also provide a great way for Voshon to reconnect with old friends he’s made over the years through other organizations. The centralized location and programs designed for his age group provide the perfect opportunity for friendships to grow.
Join us on GivingTuesday December 3
We are thrilled to see lives impacted through our purposeful programs! This is why GiGi’s Playhouse is here! From Literacy Tutoring to GiGiFIT to LMNOP and more, our programs are FREE for participants. However, they are not free for us to create and run them in our beautiful Playhouse. Your donations on GivingTuesday, December 3, 2019 will ensure we can continue to provide life changing programs and opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome in Metro Detroit and beyond.