The next semester of GiGi U starts January 9th, and I cannot wait!  We have so many exciting things happening!!  The first thing that will be happening is our internship program.  This program is for participants who have graduated from GiGi U and are taking the next steps in being a part of the workforce.  Currently, they will be interning at three locations, Parker Center, The Rockford Police Department, and BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding and Educational Center.  The participants are required to complete 100 hours for their internship and will be at GiGi U 1 day a week to work on resume building, interviewing, and completing job applications.

The implementation of the Internship Program opens up spots in our GiGi U program.  I am excited for the direction that this program is taking.  Each week we cover topics which revolve around a monthly theme.  Last semester’s themes were Manners, Community, Feelings and Emotions, and Professionalism.  This semester’s themes include: Personal Care, Home Safety, Personal Life, Leisure Time, and Restaurant Skills.

Along with our monthly themes, we work on reading, math (money), communications, safety, self-care, self-advocacy, career skills, nutrition, fitness, special interests, volunteering, and take many community outings.

This semester, a few of our students are  working with an office manager at a law firm and we will be taking monthly trips throughout our community.  These trips include: going to the mall, bowling, riding at BraveHearts, eating out at different restaurants, and a trip to Galena to check out the River Bend Gallery and visit with the owner, Geoffrey Mikol, who is a photographer and has Down syndrome.

Along with all of these great activities, we will be holding our annual Pancake Breakfast fundraising event.  Last year was the first year of the event and we raised $1,000.  Our goal for this year is to raise $1,500!

As you can see, GiGi U is more than just a program at GiGi’s Playhouse.  This is a University with the goal for every student to make gains in their personal and professional life.   GiGi U is a great program that GiGi’s Playhouse provides and gives opportunities to people who may not have had them in the past.

If you would like to learn more about the GiGi U program, contact Erin Hickman at or call 815-654-7529 ext. 212

Volunteering at BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding and Educational Center.

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