From the Founder & GiGi's mom:
When GiGi was born I was so afraid of the way people would treat her, and the pain it would cause my other kids. They love her so much and when I see the looks on their faces when people stare at her or make fun of her it truly hurts my heart. Wearing her diagnosis on her face makes GiGi an instant victim, but it also makes her and all her friends a catalyst for change.
I believe by nature, people want to do good things. It’s part of what makes us human. But often, there are too many outside distractions that take the place of human decency, human kindness, or even human contact! We have a tendency to think that it’s others who need the help – not us or someone we know. But the truth is that all of us are one step away from being different or loving someone who is different. It could happen with a simple fall off of a bike, the birth of a new baby, or an unexpected illness or accident.
Differences do not discriminate. They don’t care who you are. They don’t care if you are rich or that you are “low risk,” or “not those kind of people.” Differences are the ultimate leveler and they’re seconds away. When you experience that difference in yourself or in the life of someone you love, things change drastically and you’ll find yourself yearning for a more accepting world for that person you love.
Normally when a business works as hard as we do, you grow your profits. GiGi’s Playhouse growth is extraordinary but our profits are not measured in dollars but rather in the lives we are changing every day.
I know our model of free educational and therapeutic programming would not fit into any fortune 500 CEO’s business plan! But you know who wins in this plan? The kids and the world!
All of our kids! Not just the kids with Down syndrome, but the entire community starting with siblings! Individuals with Down syndrome benefit from FREE literacy and math tutoring, FREE therapeutic based programming, FREE career skills training, and all the tools they need to succeed in life. BUT At the very same time, the community gets a dedicated place to learn about the value of acceptance and how they can be a part of changing the world. A place that feels like Disney land but has the heart of a Lion!
In closing, GiGi doesn’t get to take a break from her diagnosis; no one does. People who are different don’t get to shed that “differentness” at the end of the day. They struggle constantly for acceptance-and that is why we will never stop fighting for them. Together we can change the world: one child, one diagnosis, and one community at a time!