Dancing Her Wonderful Way Into Our 321 Hearts

Participant (and Dancing Queen) Best of All: Jessica

Jessica dancing her way into the hearts of the 2024 GiGi's Playhouse Gala guests
Jessica dancing her way into the hearts of the 2024 GiGi’s Playhouse OC Gala guests

On a quiet day at GiGi’s Playhouse Orange County, Jessica, a gentle yet cautious 35-year-old, arrived with her mother for a tour. This was their first visit, and they were eager to learn about the programs designed for adults. This initial visit to GiGi’s Playhouse was marked by curiosity and apprehension by Jessica; however, as we walked through the vibrant halls, her initial nervousness began to fade. She listened attentively as I explained the history and mission of the playhouse, sharing her own thoughts and experiences along the way. Before leaving, Jessica expressed some reservations about returning. I reassured her of the safe and welcoming environment, encouraging her to consider joining our Wednesday night GiGiFIT and Fantastic Friends classes.

The following week, Jessica attended a yoga class, but unfortunately, she fell ill afterward, postponing her regular participation until mid-February. Despite this setback, Jessica quickly found her place at GiGi’s. She formed connections and adapted smoothly to the activities. After one class, Jessica approached me, sharing her happiness and pride in finding the courage to attend a session at GiGi’s. Despite her initial fears, she discovered comfort in the supportive environment. By March, Jessica felt so confident that she asked her mom to drop her off—a significant milestone for her, which she celebrated proudly.

Jessica dancing her way into the hearts of the 2024 GiGi's Playhouse Gala guests

Jessica, a talented dancer, felt completely at home with her new friends at GiGi’s. Her journey culminated in a performance of a modern dance at our Gala, attended by over 150 guests. This impressive display of personal growth within such a short time was a highlight for everyone. We feel privileged to have Jessica and her mother as part of our GiGi’s Family. Her journey is a testament to courage and resilience, serving as an inspiration for others who join our community.

Jessica was born in Las Vegas, Nevada, and as soon as she could speak she voiced her opinions about her abilities and those of others with disabilities. Having Down syndrome, she became a spokesperson for Opportunity Village, Special Olympics of Southern Nevada, and the Down Syndrome Organization of Southern Nevada. Appearances on local talk shows and news interviews led Jessica to the realization that she enjoyed being on camera. Jessica moved to southern California in 2002 and has pursued an acting career ever since. When she isn’t acting, Jessica is generally practicing ballroom dance, which she competes in regularly.

In essence, Jessica’s experience at GiGi’s Playhouse is a testament to the supportive and welcoming environment we strive to create. From her initial apprehension to her triumphant dance performance at the Gala, Jessica’s journey illustrates the profound impact of community and acceptance. Her story not only highlights her personal growth but also serves as an inspiration to others who join our playhouse. We are privileged to have witnessed her transformation and proud to have her as a member of our GiGi’s Family.

Jessica dancing her way into the hearts of the 2024 GiGi's Playhouse Gala guests

For comprehensive details about GiGi’s Playhouse Orange County, explore our website at https://gigisplayhouse.org/orangecounty/. Our doors are open to individuals of all ages and abilities, embracing inclusivity in every aspect of our programs. Take a moment to browse through the diverse range of offerings available at https://gigisplayhouse.org/orangecounty/our-programs/.

What makes GiGi’s Playhouse truly special is that all our programs and events are provided entirely FREE of charge for participants and their families. This is made possible through the unwavering support of generous contributors, including families, foundations, and corporations. As a nonprofit organization, classified under 501C, GiGi’s Playhouse relies heavily on the kindness and philanthropy of donors and grants to sustain its operations and continue serving the community.

If you believe in the transformative power of inclusive education and support, we invite you to consider making a donation to GiGi’s Playhouse Orange County. Your contribution, whether it’s a one-time gift or a recurring donation, directly impacts the lives of individuals with diverse abilities, fostering a more inclusive and supportive society. To make a donation, please visit https://connect.clickandpledge.com/w/Form/9159fb5f-1fdd-4e9f-85e1-d5ad718cc5db?prv=31068.

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