On Saturday, March 24th the GiGi’s Playhouse Westchester community gathered at the Tappan Hill Mansion to celebrate and raise money to continue to provide free and purposeful therapeutic and educational programs to individuals with Down syndrome. What a fantastic evening! We ate, danced and listened to some powerful and inspiring speeches.
One of those speeches was delivered by Claire, who attends Fantastic Friends, volunteers at Birthday Club and is on the Gala Committee, she is also an amazing advocate for GiGi’s Playhouse. Claire stood up and spoke in front of us, although she felt a little nervous, Claire did an amazing job and delivered this wonderful speech.
Good evening. My name is Claire. I’m 36 years old and I have Down syndrome.
But that’s not who I am. I’m a good cook and a great baker. I won an award from radio station CD101.9 for my low carb cheesecake and I learned to parallel park in Brooklyn. I started school at 3 months at Columbia University and I’ve been learning ever since. I worked at the Gap on the selling floor, Barnes & Noble in the Cafe and at the Institute of Culinary Education. I took classes there for five years and learned a lot. I sold my cheesecakes to two places in Manhattan. I also volunteered at the NDSS where I worked with Chris Burke and was the head of the Young Leadership Program.
For the last eight years I’ve volunteered with City Harvest where I’ve been honored several times.
Has it been hard? Yes, it has. But I’ve learned a lot. I was lucky. I had some very dedicated teachers over the years. After kindergarten, I was placed in a speech impaired class and then mainstreamed in several classes in high school.
Until I came to GiGi’s I really didn’t have many Down syndrome friends but I feel comfortable at the Fantastic Friends get togethers, the Birthday Club and fundraising. I really wish there was a GiGi’s when I was younger. Reading, writing and math are difficult subjects and GiGi’s can help make it easier.
We all need to spread the word about GiGi’s so we can help more children and adults with DS so please spread the word.