Nonprofit Spotlight: Gigi’s Playhouse

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Imagine a group of children happily playing in a playhouse. Giggles, laughter, and squeals of delight fill the room. The joy of the children is evident and infectious. Now picture seeing several faces having a joyful smile that is representative of people with Down Syndrome. They are surrounded by family and volunteers joining together to create a sanctuary, open to all.

This room, this place, this sanctuary is where joy lives.

Welcome to Gigi’s Playhouse.

A national, no-cost, non-profit Downs Syndrome Achievement Center.

Did you know there are 17, 000 people in the Tampa Bay Area with this diagnosis? As a result, Gigi’s Playhouse saw a need to help. So they opened an encouraging and uplifting place for Down Syndrome families. Here they receive resources from childhood to adulthood. All for no cost.

First of all, let’s find out about Gigi’s Playhouse resources. Then be sure to check out an exciting volunteer opportunity for thrill-seekers below.

1. Free Therapies

As a special-needs mom to a son with dwarfism, I know the value of therapies. My son receives occupational, physical, and speech therapies. Likewise, Gigi’s Playhouse offers similar programs to children and adults with Down Syndrome. All free to the community.

2. Dance Programs

Adaptive Dance
Now starting its second year, Gigi’s Playhouse offers an adaptive dance program for young and older students. The joy of dance helps the participants express themselves freely. The Straz Art Education Partnership supports this effort which allows students the opportunity to occasionally perform on stage.

Music In Motion offers children a way to use music and dance to build motor skills. The use of soothing sounds and physical activity make the perfect pairing for this program.

3. Fitness Programs

Cheer Gems–Offers participants a chance to cheer on a squad. This program builds confidence and relationships with peers.

Special Olympics Young Athletes–This program offered in partnership with Special Olympics is a unique sport and play program for children with intellectual disabilities.

Also offered are fitness classes to help participants overcome low muscle tone.

4. Educational Resources

Getting assistance with literacy and math helps participants prepare for real-world challenges. Math and literacy tutoring increases academic achievement and builds the student’s confidence.

A unique aspect of this program is the personalized attention each student receives. A volunteer works with participants on a one-on-one basis. Due to this warm and caring environment, the students build relationships and helps with learning.

Also, be sure to ask about the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum.

5. Career Development

The E.P.I.C. program focuses on empowerment, participation, independence, and community. Building social and vocational skills gives adult participants the tools needed to thrive in the community. While many special needs programs “age out,” Gigi’s Playhouse is especially proud to support adults with Down Syndrome.

October Volunteer Opportunity

Rappel For A Cause

down syndrome
Rappel For A Cause

Are you able to leap over buildings like Superman?

Not really, but you can be Superman by rappelling over a building. Over The Edge, will take place on October 29, 2019. This event gives you the opportunity to rappel down a 12-story building overlooking Tampa Bay.

Taking this leap of faith will help Gigi’s Playhouse continue to provide valuable resources to the Down Syndrome community. You can be a Superman or Wonder Woman to children and adults with Down Syndrome.

Over The Edge, 2701 Rocky Point Drive, October 26, 2019

Participants fundraise a minimum of $1,000 for this opportunity of a lifetime. Click the link to sign up here. You will receive a website link to help in fundraising.

If you would like to watch the participants rappel off the building, please come to Rocky Point on October 26, 2019. Food and face painting will be provided. You can cheer on the Supermen and Wonder Women taking a leap of faith for a great cause.

Other Volunteer Opportunities

You can work directly with Gigi’s participants, help with events, or assist in administrative tasks. Click here to fill out the Volunteer Interest Form: www.gigisplayhouse.org/tampa/volunteer-form.

Other articles on Tampa Bay Moms regarding Down Syndrome: http://tampabaymoms.com/special-needs/world-down-syndrome-day-march-21-wear-your-mismatched-socks/

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