Having Fun and Getting Fit with Our Friends at GiGi’s Playhouse! 

If you happen to be strolling by the Playhouse on a Tuesday evening, you’ll likely hear upbeat music, notice a large group of friends having a great time, and witness some wonderful volunteers supporting participants in reaching their #BestOfAll!

For one hour a week, youth and adults with Down syndrome gather here to “get their sweat on”.

Rachel Eckert has facilitated Friends, Fun & Fitness for 5 sessions now, and she led GiGiFIT before that. She does a great job incorporating all parts of the program: physical movement, discussions on healthy lifestyle choices, and positive peer support. The exercises Rachel chooses are intentionally varied and multileveled, giving everyone a chance to participate in a way that is accessible, personally challenging, and truly rewarding. 

One individual in particular has really flourished since joining Friends, Fun & Fitness.

Corey, age 27, doesn’t communicate with words at this time, but his body language speaks volumes. When he started attending FF & F he barely participated in the activities and didn’t engage with other members. Carol Schindler, who co-leads this program, asked Corey’s mother, Kay, if there was anything she could incorporate that might pique his interest. Kay said Corey enjoys balls, so Carol took Corey aside and rolled a ball over to him. When Corey rolled it back, he SHOUTED with glee! Carol passed the ball back again and when Corey returned it, he showed his excitement by taking off his hat, waving it over his head, and shouting excitedly.

This was the first #BestOfAll moment for Corey, as he went from mundanely tolerating the group to active engagement. But neither Corey, nor Carol, stopped there… a few weeks later, with Carol’s assistance and encouragement, Corey rode a tricycle independently for the first time! While Kay filmed this incredible milestone, tears streamed down her face. You can see by Carol’s reaction in the photos below, it was a moment to cherish forever. We all take our hats off to you, Corey, for your major accomplishments this summer!  

We’d also like to take this opportunity to express our deep gratitude for Ms. Carol: Volunteer Extraordinaire!

This superwoman started volunteering back in November, 2020, and there isn’t a group program she hasn’t contributed to in some capacity, since. Carol currently co-leads LMNOP, Art Explosion, and Friends, Fun & Fitness, as well as helps with our events and is quick to come to the Playhouse whenever we’re in a bind!

Carol’s love for individuals with Down syndrome of all ages is evident by her ceaseless drive to adapt our programs to meet their unique needs. She believes in each and every participant’s potential and is one of the first people to notice and celebrate their successes. Carol is always looking for new and fun activities to try in programs and we truly appreciate the creativity and thoughtfulness she brings! Thank you, Carol, for fully embodying what it means to be #GenerationG and sharing your time, talent, and warmth so generously!  

Are you feeling inspired??

We have all sorts of volunteer opportunities that would certainly suit your interests and time allowance. Please join us for volunteer orientation, hosted every 1st Saturday of the month. If you have any questions, email volunteerdetroit@gigisplayhouse.org or call the Playhouse at 248-557-9899.

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