Our journey with Annalisa started out as a bit of a nightmare with her extensive heart defects. She lived her whole first year with an oxygen tank accompanying her everywhere that she had to go. She underwent one heart operation at 3 months of age and then a major reconstruction of her heart walls as a one year old when she had finally attained the required weight to undergo the surgery.
Annalisa’s health greatly improved once the heart issues were addressed and since then she has had only minor health issues like everyone else. Annalisa was always sweet and accepting of whatever she had to undergo through her trials. She has brought sunshine into a lot of live with her smiles and ready hugs. Even strangers and especially little children receive hugs from Anna!
Anna has always been a very social individual, so when she was too old to attend school and virtually every vocational avenue for disabled adults had been closed because of covid, her life was pretty boring and uneventful. Fortunately for her, I had a cousin who lived in Washington state with a son who has Down syndrome. She told me that he attended programing at a facility called GiGi’s Playhouse and that Anna would benefit greatly if I could find one here. So I started looking online for just such a program and found out that Erica was trying to start one in the Wausau area so I contacted her and she promised to keep me informed as to how things were going and the progress toward opening one for our loved ones here.
I never had any reservations about getting Anna involved with the playhouse because it came highly recommended by my cousin . My only reservation was the covid problem but that was addressed perfectly at the facility and so I felt very confident taking Anna there for activities. She needed the socialization and gets so excited anytime that I tell her she is going to the playhouse.
Anna attends Fantastic Friends, Destination Discovery, 1:1 Literacy, Special Events and she is enrolled in the Virtual Math Program. She gets super excited anytime there is something at GiGi’s for her to take part in. She is the first one in the car and is super ready to get out and go into the playhouse when we arrive. The programs have kept her up to speed on her reading skills, math skills and she has learned new things like gardening. She has been involved in dancing which is a favorite of hers and crafts which she has always loved!
Anna’s favorite thing about GiGi’s is EVERYTHING!!
She loves everything that we take her to because even though she is mostly non-verbal the smile on her face and her excitement about heading there says it all!
My favorite thing, as her parent, is that I have found a safe, fun environment where Anna can continue to learn and grow as a young adult and she loves it!!
God has blessed our world with these amazing children. There has not been a person that we have encountered who Anna could not inspire with her out pouring of love and friendship. She has never ending smiles and hugs for everyone. She has a way of bringing sunshine into dark days and I wouldn’t change her for the world.