Meet our 2023 GiGiFIT Acceptance Challenge Honoree!
Kinley Palmer’s journey began with a Down syndrome diagnosis shortly after her birth. For her parents Maria and Darron, the initial moments were overwhelming. “Back then, we were unfamiliar with Down syndrome, lacking both knowledge and support. It was a lot to absorb.” recalls Maria.
Fortunately, their family soon found GiGi’s Playhouse Indianapolis. “Once we got past those first few years – open heart surgery, therapies, and doctors’ appointments – we learned about GiGi’s opening in 2015. We love it because it is a safe and inclusive place for Kinley and our family.” Kinley has participated in several programs at GiGi’s Indy 1:1 Literacy and Math tutoring, Kindergarten Prep, GiGiFIT Kids, Busy Hands Bigger Plans, and Art Explosion.
Now at 11 years old, Kinley strides confidently through life as a fourth grader at Thorpe Creek Elementary in Fishers, IN. Her time is divided between Gen Ed and FAP, seamlessly transitioning throughout the school. Kinley has an incredibly supportive school environment that empowers her to excel inclusively.
Kinley has a natural comedic flair and mimics a lot of what she sees. She immerses herself in role-playing scenarios that involve aiding others, from embodying a doctor to a hair stylist or teacher. She is renowned for her classroom of dolls she teaches and the elaborate hairstyles she performs on anyone who will let her. Her infectious sassiness fills every session, leaving those who encounter her charmed. Beneath her vibrant spirit lies a kind and empathetic heart. We have been stopped several times around Fishers by families who have shared stories of Kinley’s compassion, as she has offered support to classmates not having a good day.
Kinley also enjoys swimming, soccer, dance, and bike rides alongside her 13-year-old sister, Paige.
GiGi’s Playhouse not only provides invaluable programming, but also to making a community facilitated by devoted volunteers and staff who contribute selflessly to making these programs come to life and ensuring everyone has fun.
As Maria notes, the bonds formed with fellow parents are invaluable. Friendships that echo their own experiences have blossomed organically, creating a lifelong support system.
Kinley’s narrative is one of resilience and optimism, an embodiment of inspiration. Her vibrant spirit and outlook make her proud to be the 2023 GiGiFIT Acceptance Challenge: 3.21 Run, Walk and Dash for Down Syndrome Honoree.