I cried for days after the birth of my daughter Ella. I was stricken with fear about her future because of her Down syndrome diagnosis.
Would she have friends? Would she be happy? How would this impact our family?
That was ten years ago.
Fortunately, those fears were unfounded. Fortunately, our reality is very different from what I thought it would be!
She has many friends, loves to learn, and enjoys swimming, singing, and dancing. She is a fashionista with a goth streak, changing her hairstyle multiple times a day, and she is obsessed with Moana.
My darling girl is a true blessing to all of us who adore her (and there are lots of us!). She has also inspired me to establish a GiGi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Center in New Orleans to support and help her reach her full potential.
What is GiGi’s Playhouse? Opening this summer, our local GiGi’s Playhouse will be the 50th location in a network of brick-and-mortar locations throughout the U.S. and in Mexico offering FREE PROGRAMMING to individuals with Down syndrome of all ages. Programming will include early education (age 0-3) programs, one-on-one literacy and math tutoring, career training and professional skills development programs, and so much more...GiGi’s will do it all!
For example, GiGi’s offers therapeutic sessions that enhance speech and physical motor skills to strengthen balance and coordination, all of which can be difficult for people with DS because of low muscle tone. And GiGi’s is constantly introducing new programming and enhancing existing programs. In fact, there’s a whole set of GigiFIT programming that was recently introduced to promote exercise, health, and fitness in infants, kids, teens, and adults with DS who are typically challenged with low metabolism and a higher risk of obesity.
At GiGi’s Playhouse New Orleans, our mission is also aimed at efforts to educate the Greater New Orleans area, including our friends across the entire southern gulf coast communities. This will include education about people with DS, that they are worthy, loved, and that they do contribute to society in meaningful ways. The proof is insurmountable for everyone involved. By bringing GiGi’s to New Orleans, we can send that message loud and clear and grow opportunities for people with DS in the local New Orleans community for gainful employment and meaningful and supported inclusion in schools.
This Saturday, March 21st, for World Down Syndrome Day, the GiGi’s Playhouse network is asking people to take the Generation G pledge to Be Accepting, Be Generous, Be Kind.
Be Accepting... and take the GenG pledge and share on social platforms with the hashtag #GiGisWDSD
Be Kind...and do something extra special for someone else and encourage them to do the same.
Won’t you take the pledge? For more information, please visit our website, Facebook, and Instagram channels: