Media Archives

On April 23rd, 2024, Steve Friedman and his wife hosted our community to share learnings, tips, and essential information to help navigate the oftentimes overwhelming path toward independence for your loved one. This live, virtual workshop was interactive and included exercises to develop the foundation of each family's Independence Plan. Topics included social, safety, health, financial/benefits, legal instruments, housing, and more.

Steve Friedman is a parent, advocate, and award-winning author. Since retiring from corporate America, he has dedicated his writing to sharing experiences to empower others to navigate their path to personal independence. Steve and his wife, Jennifer, hail from Austin, Texas. Their daughter, Gwendolyn, lives at the Marbridge residential living community in nearby Manchaca, Texas and their other two kids are in Washington, DC and Ohio State University. To learn more, or to purchase a signed copy of their book, "The Essential Guide for Families with Down Syndrome," please visit their website: https://click.gigisplayhouse-email.org/expired.html.

During Fall 2023, GiGi's NYC launched a 12-week session of GiGi Prep for adults with Down syndrome ages 18+ with a plan to continue on the career development path. GiGi Prep, the first of three programs in our Career Development Program series, places emphasis on building communication skills, money management, customer service skills, team building and wellness. In addition to classroom-based instruction, we also partnered with several corporations to provide our students with real-world experience in the areas of communication and interview skills: Microsoft, Avanade, Accenture, Nasdaq, Bullhorn, Google. This video recaps our inaugural GiGi Prep Fall 2023 Semester!

In honor of World Down Syndrome Day in 3/2023, several GiGi's NYC participants attended a "fireside" chat at Microsoft in Times Square. Check this video out to hear them discuss their achievements and future goals in front of a live audience!

On 10/3/2023, students from GiGi's NYC Career Development Programs attended a panel discussion at Microsoft in Times Square. Our Career Development Programs for adults with Down syndrome ages 18+ are three-tiered: GiGi Prep is the first step, followed by GiGi University, then GiGi Professional. GiGi’s NYC launched GiGi Prep in 2023, and we plan to launch GiGi U in 2024 and GiGi Professional to follow. Our Career Development Programs are designed for individuals aspiring to continue on the career development path and place emphasis on building communication skills, money management, team building, and wellness.

The purpose of the panel discussion at Microsoft was to strengthen the formal communication skills of our GiGi Prep students who are actively working towards their future goals. In addition to our 7 students, we were joined by employees of Microsoft, Avanade, Accenture, and Nasdaq. All participants took turns asking and answering career-related questions, and were given pointers and best practices by seasoned professionals in their respective fields of work. Our students gained invaluable experience, and we are immensely thankful to Microsoft, Avanade, Accenture, and Nasdaq for allowing them this opportunity to learn and grow. Inclusion ROCKS!

On February 1st, 2023, Alexa Arzano hosted the GiGi's NYC community for the presentation, "Guardianship and Supported Decision-Making." Attendees of Alexa's presentation gained an in-depth understanding of Guardianships and Supported Decision-Making options within New York.

Alexa is a third-year student at New York Law School. She worked as a Student Attorney within the Elder Law Clinic: Planning for Aging, Illness, and Special Needs, where she had the opportunity to work as a Guardian ad Litem on a 17-A Guardianship Proceeding. Alexa's twin brother R.J., who was diagnosed with Autism at 2 years old, is Alexa's inspiration for pursuing a law degree, with a focus on laws that affect individuals with differing abilities.

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On November 17, 2022, Ken Siri hosted our community for part 3 of a 3 part series about self-direction. In part 3, Ken discussed how to create a self-direction budget and the most strategic, efficient way to allocate funds. This presentation is geared towards parents and caregivers whose loved one is already enrolled in OPWDD and receiving self-direction.

Ken Siri, CFA, is a Self-Direction Broker, mentor, author, and autism advocate. He is also a single father of a young adult son with autism. Ken spent 20 years on Wall Street as a healthcare & technology analyst and is the author of Cutting-Edge Therapies for Autism. He currently manages an impressive caseload of 125 clients and has a wealth of knowledge to share on the topic of self-direction.

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On November 17, 2022, Ken Siri hosted our community for part 3 of a 3 part series about self-direction. In part 3, Ken discussed how to create a self-direction budget and the most strategic, efficient way to allocate funds. This presentation is geared towards parents and caregivers whose loved one is already enrolled in OPWDD and receiving self-direction.

Ken Siri, CFA, is a Self-Direction Broker, mentor, author, and autism advocate. He is also a single father of a young adult son with autism. Ken spent 20 years on Wall Street as a healthcare & technology analyst and is the author of Cutting-Edge Therapies for Autism. He currently manages an impressive caseload of 125 clients and has a wealth of knowledge to share on the topic of self-direction.

On October 20, 2022, Chris Wragge, Co-Anchor for New York’s CBS2 News, hosted our 10th Anniversary Gala. In this clip, Chris talks about our landmark Gala. He continues to be dedicated to our community and an excellent advocate for people with Down syndrome!

On August 17, 2022, Ken Siri hosted our community for part 2 of a 3 part series about self-direction. Part 2 was geared towards families who are already enrolled in OPWDD, have a Medicaid Waiver, and have questions about building a self-direction budget, efficiently utilizing services, and more. Ken's presentation was followed by a Q&A, providing our families with the opportunity to ask their most pressing questions.

Ken Siri, CFA, is a Self-Direction Broker, mentor, author, and autism advocate. He is also a single father of a young adult son with autism. Ken spent 20 years on Wall Street as a healthcare & technology analyst and is the author of Cutting-Edge Therapies for Autism. He currently manages an impressive caseload of 125 clients and has a wealth of knowledge to share on the topic of self-direction.

On August 16, 2022, Ken Siri hosted our community for part 1 of a 3 part series about self-direction. Part 1 was geared towards families who are not yet enrolled in OPWDD, and those who are newly enrolled. Ken discussed eligibility criteria, the application process,
how to get approval for a Medicaid Waiver, and more. His presentation was followed by a Q&A, which provided our community with the opportunity to ask their most pressing questions.

Ken Siri, CFA, is a Self-Direction Broker, mentor, author, and autism advocate. He is also a single father of a young adult son with Autism. Ken spent 20 years on Wall Street as a healthcare & technology analyst and is the author of Cutting-Edge Therapies for Autism. He currently manages an impressive caseload of 125 clients and has a wealth of knowledge to share on the topic of self-direction.

In honor or World Down Syndrome 2022, our Co-Founders, Debbie Morris and Tracy Nixon, were interviewed by Better Together Community, to reflect on the last ten years since we opened our doors.

On January 12, 2021,  Andrea Leszczynski & Josie Brown from AHRCNYC hosted the GiGi's NYC community for an info session on the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development Train and Earn Program. The NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (NYC DYCD) Train and Earn Program is a 16-week career, work readiness, and occupational training program. It is designed to assist out-of-work, out-of-school youth between ages 16 - 24 develop professional skills and obtain entry-level employment.

On October 23, 2021, GiGi's NYC was featured on NY1 News in honor of Down Syndrome Achievement Month, as reported by Lori Chung. In it, she highlights the importance of in-person programming for our community and how COVID-19 has impacted us. Check out our very own Safia Al-Rawi and Noelle Leczel in this video clip and news article.

On 10/2/2021, GiGi's NYC kicked off Down Syndrome Achievement Month with the Rodriguez Family! Connor and his parents, Marian and Fred, have been part of the GiGi’s NYC community since 2016. From the time Connor was diagnosed with Down syndrome, Marian and Fred have made it their mission to ensure Connor is given every opportunity to live his life to the fullest. At the age of 9, Connor wrote and published his first children’s book, I AM CONNOR, and at age 11 he came up with the idea to start the family business, Connor’s Canine Cookies. They hosted the GiGi's NYC Community for an interactive baking demonstration and spoke to us about Connor’s inspirational journey. For those who could not attend, we hope that you enjoy this recording and bake some delicious Banana Bread! If you have any questions, please feel free to email nyc@gigisplayhouse.org. To learn more about Connor's Canine Cookies, please visit their website at https://www.connorscaninecookies.com/.

On September 21, 2021, GiGi’s NYC welcomed Dr. Brian Chicoine to speak with our community about the very important topic: Common Health Problems in Adolescents and Adults with Down Syndrome. Adolescents and adults with Down syndrome have a different frequency of many health conditions. In addition, the symptoms of health problems may be different. The discussion included a variety of co-occurring health problems, differing presentations, and the implications for diagnosis, treatment, and screening.

Brian Chicoine, M.D. is the co-founder and Medical Director of the Advocate Medical Group Adult Down Syndrome Center in Park Ridge, Illinois. The Center has served over 6,000 adolescents and adults with Down syndrome since its inception in 1992. Dr. Chicoine graduated from Loyola University of Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. He completed his Family Medicine residency at Lutheran General Hospital where he is now a faculty member. He has published many articles regarding health of people with Down syndrome. He has co-authored two books “Mental Wellness of Adults with Down Syndrome,” and “The Guide to Good Health for Teens and Adults with Down Syndrome” published by Woodbine House Publishing.

On August 3, 2021, Jodi Samuels gave a talk to our community entitled, “I would change the world for you, but I would not change you for the world.” Jodi Samuels is an author, speaker, super mom, and wife living in Jerusalem. She challenges mindsets and brings her passion for life to her work as a not-for-profit leader, community activist, disability advocate and entrepreneur. Jodiʼs writing appears on her own blog as well as The Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post, Aish HaTorah, and The Jewish View. Jodi is a sought-after international speaker. Her talks challenge her audience while inspiring them. Jodi has spoken to hundreds of groups from all walks of life. She promises to make you laugh, cry, and reach for the stars! You can read more about Jodi in her memoir: Chutzpah, Wisdom and Wine: The Journey of an Unstoppable Woman. When you have a child with a disability, you are given a test you did not choose. How do we change our reality and find the strength for this test? For those who could not attend the conversation, we hope that you enjoy this recording. If you have any questions, please feel free to email nyc@gigisplayhouse.org and we will direct them to Jodi.

In honor of World Down Syndrome Day, GiGi's NYC Community Chorus members sang empowering songs to highlight the strength, talents, and diversity of the global Down syndrome community. A huge thank you to our director, Laurie Gamache, and everyone featured in the Concert!

GiGi's NYC celebrates World Down Syndrome Day today and everyday!

On June 23, 2021, Board Co-President Jane Providenti spoke to our community on post-secondary opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome. The conversation covers the college application process, various inclusive programs at different colleges and universities, available resources, strategies and recommendations, and more. For those who could not attend or would like to review the information discussed, we hope that this recording is helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to email nyc@gigisplayhouse.org and we will direct them to Jane.

For those who missed our special event with Grace and Linda Strobel, or for those who would like to watch it again, please enjoy the recording. We are so humbled and inspired by the important work that Grace and Linda do every day to advance the lives of people of all abilities, but especially individuals with Down syndrome. To learn more about Grace, her modeling, and public speaking, please visit https://www.gracestrobel.com. Thank you again to Grace and Linda for taking the time to speak with GiGi's NYC!

On February 8th, 2021, members of GiGi's Playhouse NYC were guest speakers on radio channel 90.3 FM hosted by WHCR! Guest speakers included: Malik Jabbaar, GiGi’s NYC 2021 Ambassador, Frank Sawyer, Board Member, Yamira Siu, Board Co-President, and Lateefah Abdul Jabbaar, GiGi’s NYC Grandparent Champion Award recipient and Harlemite. They spoke about our amazing community, virtual programming, and upcoming events. If you were unable to tune into the show, please enjoy the recording here!

The GiGi's Playhouse NYC "we have a Voice" Community Chorus is an all ages inclusive chorus comprised of individuals with Down syndrome, their friends and family. This Performance was conducted at our 7th GiGi's Playhouse NYC "i have a Voice" Gala in 2019!

Chorus Directed by Laurie Gamache

Song: This is Me - The Greatest Showman
Music and Lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

Nothing stops the GiGi's NYC Community Chorus from singing together – not even a global pandemic! We are so grateful to our Community Chorus Director, Broadway's Laurie Gamache, and all of our incredible participants for sharing their joy and talent with the world!

tips-for-brandon-header-no-logos

Instead of tips, Jessy, owner of Jessy's Pastries, asks her customers to make donations to support individuals with Down syndrome. She is inspired by her son Brandon, who tragically passed away at age 2. Each year she contributes to GiGi's Playhouse NYC, a one of a kind Achievement Center where individuals with Down syndrome receive the support they need through free educational, recreational, and social programs. Your contributions to Brandon's Virtual Tip Jar will support a vibrant community and give individuals with Down syndrome the opportunity to define and reach their potential.

GiGi's Playhouse NYC Community Chorus Debuts and Performs at NDSS Gala  January 2019

GiGi's Playhouse NYC Sponsors NDSS Buddy Walk - September 2018

GiGi's Playhouse NYC in Times Square - September 2018

 

The Best Medicine Radio Show pilot episode- "The Wisdom of Down Syndrome'' aired on May 26th. It featured GiGi's Playhouse Co-Founder Tracy Nixon and her daughter Laura, and Executive Director Britt Sady.