Don’t Stop Achieving

When research came out that individuals with Down syndrome have a 95% chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease by the age of 65, as opposed to the 12% chance of the general population, staff and families at GiGi’s Playhouse Fort Wayne knew something needed to happen. With the help of local recreational therapist from F.L.O.W. Recreation, LLC, we were able to offer the GiGi’s Achievers program once a week beginning in January 2024.

Group of adults cutting from magazines.

The GiGi’s Achievers program empowers adults with Down syndrome with purposeful activities to ensure continued learning and fulfillment of life. This program teaches and promotes communication, self-awareness, independence, and health and wellness. Each lesson provides participants with “hands on” learning experiences, exercise, activities to keep the mind sharp, and so much more. This program is averaging around 20 participants aged 26 through 69.

Man smiling while holding two rabbit masks.

Because of the growing high interest in this program, our friends from Byron Health volunteered to add another day in May 2024 of GiGi’s Achievers so that our participants can work through Equipping Minds protocols two times a week to strengthen the brain. Equipping Minds is designed to improve a learner’s working memory, visual and auditory processing, attention, processing speed, logic, comprehension, language, social skills, attention, executive functioning, behavior, and self-regulation. As their website states, “The brain and IQ are not stagnant but can be strengthened with the right tools and instructional methods.”

Man with glasses smiling.

Even though this program has only been running for a little over three months, the impact that it has made is heard and seen every week! Caregivers gather in the family foyer and are able to connect through shared experiences. A 58-year-old participant’s speech has already shown a marked improvement because he is now more social and interacting with peers on a regular basis. A 30-year-old participant exclaimed with glee when he was given an invitation to a peer’s birthday party. The need for the GiGi’s Achievers program is evident, and you can help!

Check out our wish list for items that our Achievers use and need.

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