The GiGi’s Impact – Hugs + Mugs

The GiGi’s Impact – Hugs + Mugs

The Generation G movement is a social campaign from GiGi’s Playhouse, the mission is to make a conscious decision every day to be accepting, generous & kind.  A huge part of this campaign is aimed toward the younger generation, for two reasons.  As we are sure you have all seen, children can be quite cruel to those that they view as different.  On the flip side the youth today have also shown how ready and willing they are to stand up for what they believe is right. They are the masters of social media and will push change.  We believe that through education and awareness our young people (and even some of us oldtimers) will learn that differences are not a bad thing, they will then spread this truth like wildfire. We will learn that together, we truly are stronger.

GiGi's Playhouse

 

One of the best parts of working with so many incredible people day in and day out is seeing the slow and steady progress that society is making! There are more and more younger people getting involved and volunteering with GiGi’s Playhouse! Even some wanting to dedicate their lives to help those who are born differently abled.

 

Recently we met one of those incredible young people!

 

Let us introduce you to Kiana Vasquez, a 19 year old getting ready to enter her sophomore year of college at Midland University. Kiana is one of those amazing people who is dedicating her life to working with people that are taking on these additional challenges. She is a Special Education and Psychology Major at Midland.

 

What we thought was so cool about Kiana is that she had seen a video on Facebook  about Hugs + Mugs Cafe that is run by  adult interns with Down syndrome, who have completed the GiGi U program here in Hoffman Estates. She was so inspired that she knew she had to visit! Kiana excitedly told her friends how much she wanted to see this wonderland of inclusion and development for herself!

 

However with school and life being so hectic, Kiana wasn’t immediately able to make the more than two hour round trip to see our amazing interns! Thankfully, her incredible friends kept her wish in mind and when her birthday rolled around on June 6th, they surprised her with a road trip all the way to GiGi’s Playhouse headquarters here at Hoffman Estates where the Hugs + Mugs video was made! How cool is that?!

It was here that we learned of her motivation and more of who she is! Speaking with Kiana, she plans on specializing in working with those who have severe cognitive disabilities. Her experience is already quite extensive as well. At just 19, Kiana has already been a teacher’s assistant for special education classes, a 1 on 1 coach/ tutor and a Special Olympic coach! Is there anything this girl doesn’t do?!

When asked, what it was that originally inspired her to work in special education, she told the story of her birth in which she was actually born a twin. “Yes my twin died when my mom was 5 months pregnant and I was born during the 6th month. the doctors first thought either me, my twin, or both of us were going  to be born with Down syndrome. I was born through an emergency c section, not breathing and the doctors said I was seconds away from having Cerebral Palsy and they wouldn’t know if I would have any delays or disabilities until I further developed”

 

Kiana believes this was her call to action in life! Kiana is such an amazing example that we are all just one coincidence away, one accident, one fall, one infection from taking on an entire new set of circumstances in life!

The lasting impact she hopes to have is to show as many people as possible that they need to take the time to get to know and appreciate the beauty in those over coming additional obstacles because they are the, “purest form of humanity, with no preconceived notions, no prejudice, and unconditional love!” Something the rest of us should be striving for every single day.

GiGi's Playhouse

 

Thank you Kiana for being a model for Generation G!  Please come back to visit any time you ae able!

Blog post written by Sam White, GiGi’s Playhouse Inc., Marketing Intern.

 

GiGi's Playhouse

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