It is hard to believe that almost 10 years ago our son Jake was born with Down syndrome. Of course, there were a roller coaster of emotions for my husband and I. Will he walk, talk or play sports? Luckily, I have a younger first cousin, Kari, with Down syndrome that I have grown up with and have been able to see the great things that she has accomplished. We decided that we were on “Jake’s Journey” and we were going to help him reach his full potential, just like our other kids. Shortly after we arrived home from the hospital, we were contacted by the great Diane and Wayne Brendemuhl from the “Up with Downs” local Down syndrome support group. We realized that we were not alone.
We were also put in contact with Jane Nelson from the Experienced Parent group who also introduced us to other families with kids with Down syndrome. We met at various places in the community and had different outings, but it was apparent that we needed a place for our kids to learn and grow. We have always set high expectations for Jake, and GiGi’s has encouraged Jake to be his “Best of All!” I am so glad that GiGi’s Playhouse came along for Jake and his friends. Jake loves going to GiGi’s Playhouse and participates in Playhouse Pals, literacy tutoring and many of the special events. It has been so great seeing him grow in so many ways, but especially seeing him read. That has been awesome!
Our family of 5 have become actively involved at GiGi’s Playhouse. With my background as a Physical Therapist in the schools, I am truly passionate working with other kids with special needs and wanted to volunteer at GiGi’s Playhouse. I have enjoyed volunteering at special events along with Playhouse Pals and seeing the kids confidence, gross motor and fine motor skills grow. I have also really enjoyed being on the Outreach Committee. I have enjoyed increasing awareness about Down syndrome in our community and the programs available at GiGi’s Playhouse. It has been a great way also for me to get involved with my other two children, Zach and Erica. We reach out to their schools to help educate the kids and community about setting expectations for these young individuals, not limitations. Most importantly, spreading the Generation G Pledge of “Be Kind, Be generous and Be accepting.”
Remember GiGi’s Playhouse on February 9th for Giving Hearts Day 2017!