Happy Anniversary, GiGi’s Madison! Maya Style

This is a blog by Maya Greengus, GiGi’s Playhouse Madison’s first board member with Down syndrome. Check back often to hear more from Maya, as she plans on sharing throughout the year – here and via our social media channel. If you missed her first blog, you can find it here.

I’m excited to announce that GiGi’s Playhouse Madison is turning 8 years old this month! In honor of our anniversary, I want to provide my story as to how I’ve been introduced to GiGi’s Playhouse Madison in 2012. 

Me, at the Playhouse, in the early days

I started getting involved when I was entering middle school. My mom got the opportunity to teach yoga to a group of people at the Playhouse, and she asked me to help out. Ever since then, I felt passionate about doing more than just volunteering, so later on, I took on the concept of creating an advocate committee. I talked to Julie Byrnes, the board president, at that time, who approved me talking to Sadler Bell about this. He and I decided to be co-leaders and demonstrate our advocacy by showing up for events and creating social media posts. Since then, we have grown as a group, and are friends outside of the Playhouse.

Sadler Bell, Me & Site Director Kelly Antonson

The advocate committee is undergoing some changes, and we are working independently on our own advocacy work. In 2021, Jen Strauss and I were both selected to be in the National GiGi’s Playhouse Acceptance calendar, which was quite an honor. A couple months later, I won the Down Syndrome Advocate Award at Gallery 21 from DSAW.

Here are my favorite TOP FIVE memories from the past eight years at GiGi’s Playhouse Madison:

1. When Kelly and I went to Wales Elementary School to talk about Generation G
2. The 2022 GiGiFit Dash for Down syndrome – it rained and we all wore ponchos!
3. When NBC15 (now WMTV15) came to GiGi’s at 7a.m. to do a segment my Dad and I appeared in.
4. Gala 2022
5. Gala 2023

Everyone in these pictures, I met at GiGi’s.

How did I become a member of the board? Here is a little about what inspired me to join the board of directors.

Alexa & Me

The first time I met Alexa was at the World Down Syndrome Day Party at GiGi’s Playhouse Madison, in 2023. Ever since then, we have had a very close bond. Alexa’s Mom Kim always says, “they look like they are sisters.”  What I admire most about Alexa is her smile when she sees me at GiGi’s Playhouse Madison events. Kim says she asks, “when can I see Maya next?” I feel like Alexa views me as a mentor and role model to her own life.

My new year’s resolutions for 2024 were to pick up an old hobby that I wanted to continue doing since 2016 (I joined a tap dance class at Vibe Dance Studio in October, 2023), and step up into a leadership role at GiGi’s Playhouse Madison. I still continue to this very day to advocate for what people with Down syndrome can achieve, and now, I’m a public figure at GiGi’s Playhouse Madison and the first individual born with Down Syndrome to be on the Board of Directors. 

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