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Happy Holidays!

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Because of you, babies, children, adults, and families are receiving free therapeutic and educational programming every day at 57 GiGi's locations across the US and Mexico. 

Because of you, individuals with Down syndrome are being given a voice.

Because of you, there is a place for our communities to learn about love and acceptance and spread that love to the world. 

Because of you, we're now serving families in 83 countries and helping previously underserved communities in the US who desperately need us. 

Because of you, we can continue serving pregnant moms, newborn babies, toddlers, children, and adults with Down syndrome and continue our lifetime commitment to our families.

The demand for GiGi's, and our programming, continues to grow. Nineteen years later (yes, 19!), we still function like an entrepreneurial start-up! We have no choice. We are a 99% volunteer-run organization that gives everything away for free and grows by 29% yearly! We must use the scales of efficiency to innovate and automate our business model to serve our Playhouses and families properly. I am proud to show you what we have done in 2022 and what's coming in 2023.

Please take a moment to scroll down and take it all in. You will be inspiredoutraged, but most importantly, you will be proud. Proud that YOU are a part of changing the world.

Years ago, I remembered saying, "I will slow down when the miracles slow down." And thankfully, they keep coming! Now, as I move into my 20th year, I am so full of gratitude and relief! For years they told me this was not sustainable and could not be done. But YOU, the AMAZING volunteers, donors, and families, never gave up, and YOU helped to show the world we belong here and that there is a PLACE for us. Thank you for being a part of the miracle of GiGi's Playhouse.

Our work is not done, and we need you more than ever, but we are off to a great start!

Love

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2022 Annual Leadership Conference was a Huge Success

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GiGi’s Playhouse staff and volunteers from across the country gathered in Schaumburg for our 2022 Annual Leadership Conference. Attendees learned about maximizing their operations, expanding the reach of their programs, and much more. Special recognitions were made for playhouses excelling in their mission! We are so proud of our volunteers and GiGi’s team members who continue to step up, challenge themselves, and lead with courage in their communities.

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GiGi’s by the numbers this year

 

ONLY 5% General and Administrative Costs
+ 61 GiGi’s communities
+ 83 Countries being served
+ 99% Volunteer run​
+ 7,600 volunteers
+ 214,500 hours of programming
+ 3,500,000 website views
+ $22,000,650 revenue
+ 28,700,000 social media reach
= A WORLD full of LOVE and ACCEPTANCE!

Welcome to our new Playhouses that opened in 2022!

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New Startup: Charleston​, SC

Moved to Phase 2: Las Vegas and Simi Valley​, CA

Moved to Phase 3: Portland​

Inspiring the World - Meeting with Qatar dignitaries

We met with dignitaries from the country of Qatar at our New York City Playhouse. They wanted to learn more about our methodologies, model, and our global message of acceptance for all. Qatar is one of the most progressive countries in the region and one of the 83 countries we serve with our free programs through GiGi’s At Home. 

To think our model inspired them, and others from the Embassy in D.C. and the United Nations is a true blessing! From our free programs to the Acceptance Challenge, GiGi’s is taking us beyond our borders and catapulting us into the world.
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Thank you for helping us change the world! We couldn’t do this without you!

Read more about the visit here

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GiGi Representing

GiGi started as the inspiration and has grown into the Chief Inspiration Officer! She is a girl boss and represents everywhere she goes! Follow her adventures on Instagram. She is just getting started!

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On November 19, GiGi's volunteers and families escorted Twinkles, the snowman, down the famous Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

Click here to see when the parade is airing on a TV station near you.

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Join a team of experienced educators and therapists from across the GiGi’s Playhouse Network to learn how to teach individuals with Down syndrome the way they learn best.

“The symposium was an imperative experience for my team and me. We have started applying a few of the strategies we learned in the symposium in our classes already. Looking forward to staying connected with GiGi’s team for more learning.”

-Khadija Zia Jam, Pakistan

In 2022,

  • 1,107 people registered from Australia, Botswana, Canada, Ecuador, Ireland, Mexico, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, United States
  • Take-home resources provided
  • Education Partners: University of Texas El Paso, Dept of Education, Colorado Shines, and Binghamton University - Dept of Teaching, Learning, and Educational Leadership all are offering free CPEs for attending

Because of YOU, The GiGiFIT Acceptance Challenge nearly brings in over $2 million while bringing acceptance to over 45 communities!

The GiGiFIT Acceptance Challenge is a social and physical movement for change, to create a more accepting world for people of ALL abilities! This year, we collectively raised $2 MILLION dollars that will directly go back to fund the life-changing programs here at GiGi's Playhouse!

The 2022 Acceptance Challenge campaign was a huge success, but the job is not done! We will not stop until this world is free of intolerance, and discrimination! That is why, in 2023, we will be continuing our social and physical movement for acceptance! Events will begin starting on World Down Syndrome Day (3/21/23) and will continue throughout the spring and summer!

But our work is not done....

As the Down syndrome community kicked off Down syndrome acceptance month, one of our own was at work on a seemingly typical day. Kyle has worked at a local store for over a decade. Like many young men, he enjoys spending time with his family, has fulfilling friendships, and tries to stay in shape. But unlike most young men, Kyle has Down syndrome, and he works much harder to accomplish many things that come naturally to others. However, one thing that comes easily is his willingness to help others in need. So, while he was working a seemingly typical shift and two women approached him to ask for a bit of money, he was more than willing to pull out his wallet and help.

And then they robbed him.

Read more about how this awful story turned into an inspirational one here.

 

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Sadly stories like the one Elizabeth posted are all too common in the Down syndrome community.

Please be brave like Lucia and take the global acceptance pledge below.

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives for schools, workplaces, and the community

The #GenerationG community has more than 250,000 members who have taken the pledge for global acceptance! Check out our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives for schools, the community, and the workplace!

Step One: Take the Pledge
Step Two: Draw a heart with a G in the center in the palm of your hand
Step Three: Take a selfie with your GenG hand
Step Four: Post your selfie to social media, tag #gigisplayhouse #GenerationG

U.S. Olympic Bobsledder and GiGi's Playhouse Ambassador, Elana Meyers Taylor, won the silver medal in Beijing's Women's Monobob event! We were thrilled that she wore the GiGi’s Playhouse logo on her official helmet to promote Down syndrome awareness. Watch Elena on "A Little Something Extra" with Nancy Gianni and the GiGi!
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HE GOT THE JOB!!

This was an exciting and new experience for Cash… and he ROCKED IT! "He did phenomenally," said GiGi's Health Bar Manager. In the past, Cash struggled with staying focused while answering questions, but he was ready to work hard and stayed on topic for his interview answers! He is so very proud! The manager wrote his answers down after each interview question. “I may frame the questions and answer sheet to remind him that he can do anything he sets his mind to! He called and shared his ‘AWESOME NEWS’ that he got the job and starts next week, with all his family and friends.

It was a joy to witness this whole process and to see the proud smile on Cash’s face! I am hopeful, and I expect that every young adult at GiGi’s Fort Wayne will take advantage of this and all the wonderful opportunities and soar!

As Cash said at the end of his interview and I say from the bottom of my heart to All GiGi’s Playhouses… “THANK YOU for the Great Opportunity!” And “I LOVE GiGi’s!” ~ Melissa

Adults with Down syndrome are eager and ready to contribute to their community. More employers are hiring prepared and willing candidates with Down syndrome allowing communities, companies, and people to grow stronger together. Learn more about our Career Development programs HERE.

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In February, Nancy, GiGi, and GiGi's Playhouse National Education Coordinator, Shari Andress, virtually presented our "How I Learn" education initiative at The International Congress on Pediatrics in Tehran, Iran. They shared our mission with pediatricians from around the world to help them better serve patients with Down syndrome. Watch the presentation and read more about the "How I Learn" multi-sensory learning program here!

Meet Barry

At 60 years young, Barry Burris is proud to be the oldest participant at GiGi's Playhouse Fort Myers! With a little help from our One-on-One tutoring program and his wonderful sister, Wendy, Barry recently crafted his very own book! Read more about his inspiring literacy journey in the blog.

Don't have a GiGi's Playhouse near you? You can still participate in all our amazing programs through our virtual programming platform GiGi's At Home!

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Your Voice Made a Difference

Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of death for individuals with Down syndrome. The Down syndrome advocacy community, with your voice, has gotten us one step closer to our goal of making sure adults with Down syndrome have equitable access to treatment options for this horrible disease! Discriminatory language was removed from an important healthcare coverage determination that would have excluded people with Down syndrome from clinical trials for a new class of Alzheimer’s treatments.

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Everyone at GiGi’s Playhouse would like to take a moment to recognize the accomplishments of the GiGi U Class of 2022! This year we had over 115 participants from 10 GiGi’s Playhouse locations take part in the GiGi Prep and GiGi U programs completing over 12,350 participation hours of purposeful education!

Each participant learns AND lives the “Confident U. Healthy U. Whole U.” philosophy. These adult learners strive to achieve purposeful progressions and program goals designed to increase their self-confidence, career skill knowledge, and health and wellness.

After successfully completing GiGi U, graduates continue into the GiGi Professional Program, where they practice transferable job skills in a retail or office setting. Each intern gains job-related certifications alongside subject matter experts to gain hands-on experience as they work towards a job placement in the community.

To learn more about GiGi’s Career Programs click HERE.

The GiGi Professional program is powered by the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation. If your corporation, business, or organization is interested in partnering with us in our career development programs, please email us at: programs@gigisplayhouse.org.

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Last year at GiGi Fest, Jacob was still in his mommy's tummy. GiGi met his mom, patted her belly, and said, "Everything will be ok, and next year at GiGi Fest, I will hold him."

GiGi kept her promise, and Jacob's mom was so happy to show him off and capture that moment on camera!
GiGi Fest capped off the 19th anniversary of GiGi's Playhouse! 19 years of free programs, belief, and acceptance! We are excited to kick off our 20th year in 2023 with 57 locations and serving families in 83 countries with our free programs!!

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In late 2021 we launched our Learning Management System. Here is what happened with it in 2022:

  • Implemented several infrastructure elements to bolster the productivity
  • 100 Active Courses
  • 2,035 people completed at least one course
  • 16,595 Courses completed
  • Estimated 502,919 minutes of training completed
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A step is all it takes to move forward, to feel free. Although small, that step holds tremendous power, allowing individuals to pave their own paths and make their way in the world. Steps, however, do not come naturally for people with Down syndrome. In fact, according to the National Library of Medicine, it takes a child with Down syndrome about 28 months to walk, approximately twice as long as a child without a diagnosis.

We need YOU: to volunteer, to advocate, and most of all – to DONATE!

GiGi’s Playhouse is powered by YOU.

YOU, and the generous support of donors like YOU, enable GiGi’s Playhouse to change the way the world sees those with Down syndrome and send a global message of acceptance for all.

Please give generously TODAY. YOU will make the world a more accepting, generous, and kind place with your year-end gift!