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Love of art

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Pam Baldini and her husband John Dittman. They stopped into the Playhouse for a tour and to talk a little bit about her brother, James “Jay” Baldini. Jay passed away three years ago at the young age of 60. He spent his early years in Delaware and New Jersey where he attended high school, was a member of cub scouts and an avid swimmer and bicyclist. In his mid-20’s, he moved to Switzerland with his parents where he worked as a drill press operator. After 8 years overseas, they moved back to the United States and settled in Syracuse. Jay then spent 22 years working for Monarch Industries.

Jay enjoyed music, dancing and art. He painted many oils on canvas and loved photography. He especially enjoyed snapping pictures of nature scenes, flowers and animals at the New York State Fair. Jay loved people and loved to make them laugh.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because Jay was an individual with Down syndrome. Because his parents believed he could do anything he wanted and with their support and encouragement, he did. They fought to make sure he was included in school and became his biggest supporters and advocates every where they went.

We never had the pleasure of meeting Jay, but due to the great generosity of his family and friends, we are honored to keep his love of art alive through our Art Explosion program. We are kicking it off with a 6 week summer session beginning July 8th for ages 13 and up. We will start with a discussion of the artist and some practical art instruction. Then we will spend most of our time together creating our masterpieces! There are a limited number of spots available for this summer session. To RSVP, please visit our calendar here.

Pam wishes her brother could have been a part of the GiGi’s family. She is thankful we have a place for individuals to go where they are celebrated for who they are and accepted unconditionally every day. Thank you Pam, John and all of your family and friends for believing in our mission to change the way the world views Down syndrome.


Sara LaValle

Site Coordinator – GiGi’s Playhouse Syracuse

1 Comment

  1. Pamela A. Baldini on July 26, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    Thank you so much Sara for spending time with John and me and telling us all about GiGi’s Playhouse and the wonderful work you do. It was a pleasure to meet the clients who were enjoying various activities the evening we visited. We are so thrilled that our donation from our friends and family in Jay’s honor could be used to create such a wonderful art program in his memory. We know that Jay would have been the first to sign up for the class! He truly was a lover of the arts whether he was painting, taking photos, dancing or listening and singing to all of his music. Jay loved the miracle of rainbows and did lead a most colorful life. Every time his family sees a rainbow painted across the sky, we like to think Jay is the artist saying “hi” to us. We are so happy and know Jay would be also to have his donation used to bring color and happiness into the lives of the artists who are taking this class.

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