Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day: Mikko Moves to Music!
IT’S 3/21!! Join us as we CELEBRATE #WorldDownSyndromeDay2018 TODAY by sharing #21DaysofBestofAll! Today, meet Mikko from Music in Motion, which is offered in partnership with Belmont University’s music therapy program.
Mikko joined his family through adoption just a few short months ago in December 2017. You won’t want to miss reading Mikko’s #BestofAll story! His mama, Valerie, shares so beautifully how her heart went from shaking to soaring at GiGi’s:
One of the first things we learned about Mikko is that he loves to play with balls. During those first visits in the orphanage with this precious four-year-old boy who would become ours, a medium-sized red ball was the singular item that evoked play and delight. Also during those early visits, we discovered that music speaks to our little Mikko. “La la la” to simple and playful tunes yielded laughter, clapping, and pure joy, while soothing melodies eased tearful transitions at the beginnings and ends of visits.
When we brought our Mikko home at the end of December, it wasn’t long before I began trolling the GiGi’s Playhouse calendar in anticipation of the spring schedule being published. It was to my delight that the class offerings for Mikko’s age group included “Music in Motion,” a class that “builds self-confidence and strengthens social skills, communication, and motor skills through the therapeutic use of music and dance.” I registered Mikko for the class the very day registration opened, and a couple of weeks later we arrived at GiGi’s Playhouse for our very first GiGi’s class experience.
Although saddened that I could not experience the class with my little Mikko, I was grateful for the opportunity for him to socialize and engage all on his own. Meanwhile, I gleaned the pearls of knowledge and experience the other mothers perhaps quite unknowingly gifted to me as we visited. This fellowship, however, was suddenly broken by Mikko’s cry emerging from the classroom door. A volunteer brought him out in her arms, his face pink and streaming with tears. My heart shook as I embraced him, not knowing what distressed him. Was he experiencing sensory overload? Did he think I had abandoned him? Was he afraid he was in an orphanage again? Is it that he doesn’t really like music as much as we had thought?
The next week, we returned with some trepidation, I must admit. We arrived early enough to toss a ball and feel comfortable at GiGi’s before going to class. I tried to toss the ball closer and closer to the classroom door, but he was on to me and said is his small but stern voice and with accompanying head shake “No, no.” Yet, he did not protest when it was time to go to class, and I felt it a victory when he remained in the classroom for the duration!
The next week, we repeated our routine of early arrival with time for ball. Mikko chased his ball around the large playroom with sprite-like bliss. When the music teachers entered GiGi’s, instrument cases and supplies in hand, Mikko stopped in his tracks, dropped the ball, and followed them into the classroom where he promptly plopped down on the floor in essentially the exact spot where he had sat the week before. I stood in awe, and my heart soared. Mikko doesn’t drop a ball for anything, but at that moment I knew, while a ball might bring Mikko to his feet to toss and catch and roll and chase, what really makes Mikko move is music. Thank you, GiGi’s, for speaking to our little guy’s heart and helping him chase his dreams with independence!
Do you believe in Mikko? You can support him through our #Give21 campaign by donating $21 a month to help finance #PurposefulProgramming at GiGi’s Playhouse Nashville in honor of World Down Syndrome Day! To set up a monthly donation, please click below (monthly donations can be discontinued upon request to email@example.com at any time). THANK YOU for helping us continue to change lives and change the way the world views Down syndrome! Happy World Down Syndrome Day!