Stacey – Volunteer Spotlight

Stacey, a Physical Therapist, found out about GiGi’s Playhouse Twin Cities from our Speech Language Pathologist volunteer, Rae, raving about GiGi’s at her daytime job. (Shout out to Rae for always being an ambassador for GiGi’s in our community, all the time!) In no time, Rae put together a meeting with Santi, Program Manager, Stacey, and Rae, at a coffee shop, this past winter on a very snowy day, to discuss GiGi’s Playhouse Twin Cities.

After discussing GiGi’s mission, what we do, and who we are, we quickly jumped into a discussion about our need for a Physical Therapist to help pilot the GiGiFIT program at GiGi’s Twin Cities. We did an overview of the program. Our FREE GiGiFIT programs combine physical therapy with a strong fitness focus. The ultimate goal of GiGiFIt is to find success and improved movement for all participants. GiGiFIT was created in collaboration with skilled Physical Therapists who work specifically with individuals with Down syndrome. The GiGiFIT programs are designed to address common issues for individuals with Down syndrome including hypotonia, excessive joint laxity, and decreased balance. Every GiGiFIT program is safe, effective, and progressive. GiGiFIT helps participants build strength, endurance, power, joint stability, balance, and movement control. GiGiFIT empowers participants to be more independent and confident in their abilities while improving their overall health and wellness.

We discussed our big dreams for GiGi’s Playhouse Twin Cities, that we’d like to start small, with a single group in a single age range – and then eventually expand this program over time to cover all age groups from infants through adults. As we discussed our big dreams, Stacey decided that very moment at the coffee shop, that she was interested in learning more, and getting involved. She quickly dropped by later this winter to visit us at our playhouse, so that she could learn even more about what our organization does, and who we are.

Stacey took time to study and do all the video trainings for GiGiFIT amongst her very busy life which includes: helping her daughter complete her senior year in high school and prepare to go to college this fall, working as a Physical Therapist for Early Intervention for Birth to Three in one of our metro area public school districts, as well as being a professor at an area university. In January and February, we began to discuss plans to pilot a program this fall while figuring out more logistics this summer. Then COVID happened in March, and Stacey stepped up immediately, this summer, to start piloting GiGiFIT Infants and Toddlers once a month with our 0-6 year olds, and piloting GiGiFIT Kids with our Kids Club (7-12 year olds) once a month.

We are excited to continue to partner with Stacey, hopefully this upcoming year, where we can continue to fulfill our big dreams one step at a time – even though these dreams may look much differently than we originally thought those dreams looked like back this past winter, on that snowy day. It warms our heart to think about all the possibilities for GiGiFIT that may now be available to our community in the future due to Stacey’s dedication, professional experience, and compassion.

Thank you Stacey for being one of our trailblazers in both virtual programming for GiGi’s Playhouse Twin Cities and for being the first to offer this amazing GiGiFIT program to our community this summer. It is an honor to come across a brand-new volunteer willing to do whatever is needed to lead a pilot for a  program so thoughtfully, while bringing their special expertise and passions to this work. We are so lucky to have Stacey be part of our GiGi’s Playhouse Twin Cities community. We look forward to what new adventures we can create together in the future. Thank you Stacey for your contributions already to GiGi’s Playhouse Twin Cities – especially at this time!

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