This month, I will celebrate my 3-year anniversary of being the Program Director at GiGi’s Playhouse Westchester. The past few weeks I have been reflecting on my time here, all the experiences I have shared with each and every one of you and how the Playhouse has evolved during this period.
During these wonderful three years I have welcomed over 50 new families into the Playhouse, given 152+ tours, held 28 volunteer orientations and attended countless programs. I have watched our participants grow, become stronger, try new and different foods, learn and become proficient at numerous literacy and math skills, laugh lots, dance and gain confidence.
This year, we began the year by introducing two big programs – GiGiFIT Teen and Math 1-1 Tutoring. The successes that have been accomplished by these programs has been amazing. We started the year with 7 GiGiFIT students and ended the year with 12. They all made exciting progress, becoming stronger, enjoying exercising and adopting healthy lifestyles by swapping out those sugary drinks for water.
Some of the highlights and Best of all’s from this year are (there were too many to mention here):
- Amber is a student of our Literacy and Math program, she has participated in 4 literacy and 3 math sessions. Since, the introduction of math we have seen a huge improvement. Our 1-1 math program utilizes numerous manipulatives to teach and achieve our purposeful progressions. The manipulative have helped Amber immensely, which has improved her literacy skills. At the beginning, Amber had no interests in books, now she picks them up, turns the pages by herself and will match with a little help. Way to go Amber!
- Kana has attended our GiGiFIT program since the beginning of the year. In January she found holding a plank challenging and managed an amazing 22 seconds, at the end of the Fall session she was able to hold a plank, with perfect form for a whopping 2 minutes and 45 seconds! Whoop Whoop! This is such an amazing success because one of the challenges individuals with Down syndrome have is hypotonia which is low muscle tone. Kana worked extremely hard over the year to strengthen those core muscles by exercising at the Playhouse and at home.
- Harry is a new participant this session, he attended both Math and Literacy and has achieved a great deal. He loves math and likes to get started straight away. He loves earning rewards which are given to him by his tutor at the end of each session.
- Frankie has been a student in our Literacy program for over a year now and she has made fantastic progress. Within the first two sessions she moved up 2 reading levels and by the end of the Fall 2019 Session she was more than ready to progress to Level 3, and since then she has progressed to the next reading level. This is huge and congratulations to Frankie for all your hard work!
- Jacob is a new student to Literacy and Math and after a couple of weeks with his tutor, mom sent Brianna, the tutor, a wonderful text message saying that he was able to communicate and identify his colors, something he was unable to do previously. Way to go Jacob!
- Samantha is a GiGiFIT participant and by the end of the Fall session she had doubled the number of push-ups she is able to do in a minute to 40! She can also hold a plank for 2 minutes and 4 seconds, which was an increase of a minute from the Summer session. Keep up the hard work Samantha!
- Marie is 15 and new to our GiGIFIT program this Fall. Marie was enthusiastic every week. Her huge #bestofall is that she learned to hold a plank for 9 seconds! Marie that is amazing and I am sure you will continue to get stronger each week.
- Angelina is 4 years old and enjoys literacy tutoring with her tutor Dani. One Saturday, they arrived at the Playhouse to set up for a program before her tutoring session. Her mom turned around and wondered where Angelina was. Angelina had taken herself up to the learning labs, sat herself down at the table and was all ready to work. When Gwyn found her, Angelina responded by saying “Dani”. She was about an hour early, but we love your eagerness Angelina!
I am so happy, grateful and extremely lucky to be able to share these highlights, successes and Best of All’s with you and can’t wait to see what 2020 has in-store for us!
Please consider making a charitable donation to our Playhouse by the end of the year, to ensure that we can continue to provide these purposeful programs into 2020 and beyond. Please check out our website to discover other ways you can help, such as volunteering, adding us to your Amazon Smile account, company matching and many other ways!
We thank you for your generosity!
December is the month to GIVE – Donate Here