Playhouse with a Purpose - GiGi's Annapolis

August 30, 2021

Yes, there is a lot of “play” in GiGi’s Playhouse, but the Down Syndrome Achievement Center, one of 54 nationwide, changes lives with its free, results-driven programs.  The accepting and supportive environment offers programs for individuals with Down syndrome (Ds) and their families spanning all ages.

Under 3's learn to communicate early through sign language.  Each session’s theme is woven with song, toys, cuddles and smiles.  Along the way, as each child grows, there is a program designed specifically for that age group.  A visit to the Lubrano Drive location might show young learners engaged in 1:1 literacy or math tutoring, possibly a group learning to cook healthy meals, a chess game in progress, a short play in rehearsal, sewing skills being practiced, fine or gross motor activities, fitness though Pilates and Yoga (PiYo), the stage being shared by karaoke singers belting out a movie favorite, or a group in uniforms participating in career-building skills through GiGi’s Prep.

GiGi’s mission is acceptance for all, a hefty goal considering Down syndrome is the most prevalent, yet least funded, cause of special needs.  GiGi’s volunteers reach out to local businesses and organizations to help spread awareness, and to help fund programs, which are then free to all who participate.  One paid site coordinator and assistant juggle scheduling activities that keep the Playhouse jumping morning, afternoon, and evening.  February 2018 marked the opening with one program for each of four age groups.  Today, there are 21 programs plus many “pop up” sessions and celebrations spread throughout the year.

The Playhouse met the Covid challenge by going online, not just locally, but across the country, opening up the specialized classes of many playhouses from coast to coast.  Talk about making new friends, going online stretched that reality nationwide and now to 71 countries!  Friends are important to everyone, but individuals with special needs sometimes struggle to make lasting friendships when their non-disabled peers move on to colleges in other states, careers in other cities, and possibly marriage
and children.

Drop in on a Fantastic Friends (18+) event at GiGi’s and you will see adult friendships that might not have blossomed without this organization.  Midshipmen, business career men and women, professional in many areas, all volunteers, dance under the mirrored disco ball together.  Local community volunteers help run fundraisers, teach classes, demonstrate planning and organization skills, or just jump in to partner with GiGi’s to help build confidence.

GiGi’s Playhouse is a place where families know their child with Down syndrome is not only welcomed, but also celebrated.  It is a place of sharing and caring.  It is a place where dreams are not just imagined, not just chased, but where people with Down syndrome learn how to achieve those dreams.

You can help make someone’s dreams come true while having fun, making friends, and sharing, growing, experiencing an inclusive environment.  Join us!  Volunteers of all ages are welcome!

GiGi’s Playhouse is a 501c3, volunteer-powered organization and relies 100% on donations to provide FREE programming to individuals with Down syndrome.  Gigi's Annapolis is located at 129 Lubrano Dr.   

GIGI's News

We have our 2nd Annual Golf Outing on Oct. 13th and still are seeking sponsors, golfers and day of volunteers.