March 27, 2023
Down syndrome remains the most common chromosomal condition diagnosed in the United States. Each year, about 6,000 babies born in the United States have Down syndrome, caused by a third copy of the 21st chromosome. Down syndrome is the largest chromosomal disability in our country and yet, it is the least funded.
In 2003, Nancy Gianni opened the first location of GiGi’s Playhouse, with a dream of providing a dedicated place for families to celebrate their child and benefit from completely free programs that unleash joy, confidence and continuous improvement. Now with over 57 locations in the country (including San Diego, Orange County, Simi Valley and Sacramento), she has achieved that dream. GiGi’s Playhouse is the ONLY nationwide network of Down syndrome achievement centers, changing lives through free, research-based programs for individuals of all ages, families, and communities. From a prenatal diagnosis to career skills, Gigi’s Playhouse provides dozens of educational activities and programs designed specifically to work on important skills for each child. Many of the programs are facilitated and developed by therapists and educators. Thus the kids are strengthening their gross and fine motor skills, speech and language development, and social skills – and having so much fun they don’t even realize it! All of the skills are built in a way that they can be transferred into classrooms, and later into the workforce. They learn how to socialize with peers, how to read and write, how to take turns, and most of all they are gaining self esteem at the same time!
As members get older, GiGi’s Playhouse offers career development programs that are designed to motivate adults with Down syndrome to achieve their highest potential in the world. They achieve this through innovative, educational, goal-development, and small group skills instruction, health and wellness, career skills, empowerment, community engagement, and exceptional work opportunities.
“In helping individuals with Down syndrome, we can address our larger vision of global acceptance for people of all abilities. GiGi’s Playhouse changes the way the world accepts individuals with Down syndrome,” Founder Gianni further explains. “Through free programs and through our Generation G Campaign for global acceptance, we EMPOWER families by maximizing opportunities for daily achievement and lasting acceptance. To ensure lasting acceptance, we must show the world what individuals with Down syndrome are truly capable of achieving as students, co-workers, volunteers, friends, and valued members of their communities.”
GiGi’s Playhouse is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization and is solely funded by donations. To learn more about GiGi’s Playhouse, the programs offered, and how to donate to this wonderful program, please visit https://gigisplayhouse.org/sandiego/