GiGi’s Playhouse Sugar Land is building awareness and working to empower individuals with Down syndrome.
HOUSTON, October 8, 2019 – October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month (DSAM); a full 31 days to spread awareness, to advocate on behalf of, and encourage inclusion for those individuals with Down syndrome. It’s also a time to celebrate their differences, abilities, and accomplishments.
Down syndrome is not a disease, but rather, the largest chromosomal disorder in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in every 700 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome, resulting in approximately 6,000 babies born with Down syndrome annually. It does not discriminate on race or economic status, and although older women have an increased risk of having a child with Down syndrome, 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under the age of thirty-five. Despite being the largest chromosomal condition in the US, Down syndrome is the least funded. And although there is greater inclusion and acceptance today, individuals with Down syndrome continue to face prejudices and barriers to living as independent, full members of their communities.
GiGi’s Playhouse Sugar Land is just one of 46 Down Syndrome Achievement Centers across the U.S. and Mexico, and one of two locations serving greater Houston. The mission of GiGi’s Playhouse is to change the way the world views Down syndrome through national campaigns, educational programs, and by empowering individuals with Down syndrome, their families, and the community. They offer free therapeutic and educational programming, with support to both individuals with Down syndrome and their families.
GiGi’s Playhouse Sugar Land opened almost four years ago and has been changing lives ever since. “When we first heard of GiGi’s, it was a few months after giving birth to our third child Jesley, who we weren’t expecting to have Down Syndrome,” says Ashley Cruz. “At GiGi’s Sugar Land, we were welcomed with open arms and loving smiles. There, I met other mothers where we shared our stories. It was such overwhelming love and acceptance”.
Programming spans from infants to adults, with classes like LMNOP (parents and children from newborns up to 36 months), Leaps & Bounds (3-5 years old), Kids Club (8-12 years old), Teen Tastic (13-17 years old), and GiGi Prep (teens and adults). There are also various one-on-one educational programs with include literacy training and math tutoring, as well as The Amina Grace Speech & Language Program, which focuses on evolving and refining speech and language skills for all ages. “GiGi’s provides a safe environment where Josh can fellowship with his peers, engage in fun activities, learn and reinforce life skills, positive behaviors, and teamwork participation,” says Cheryl Tapscott about her 20-year-old son Josh. “It is the best place for Josh to be, and he loves it passionately! It has also brought out the best version of himself.” Forty-four-year-old Mainak started attending GiGi’s Playhouse Sugar Land two years ago and now participates in GiGi’s Prep. Before GiGi’s, Mainak’s mother, Malvika Pandya, said he would not go anywhere with her. She credits GiGi’s for helping him gain self-confidence and life skills, which has helped him secure a job at MOD Pizza.
Everyday GiGi’s Playhouse Sugar Land celebrates the achievements of individuals with Down syndrome as students, co-workers, volunteers, friends, and valued members of society. During Down Syndrome Awareness Month, GiGi’s Playhouse Sugar Land will host the 4th annual “i have a Voice” Gala on Saturday, October 19, 2019, to raise funding for individuals with Down syndrome. The gala is the largest, most important fundraiser of the year for GiGi’s Playhouse Sugar Land, and will focus on raising awareness and funding to help individuals with Down syndrome and to highlight their vast abilities and accomplishments. Every dollar raised goes to providing free, life-changing programs to the hundreds of individuals with Down syndrome in the Fort Bend and greater Houston area.
GiGi’s Playhouse Sugar Land will host the 4th annual “i have a Voice” Gala on Saturday, October 19, 2019, at George Ranch Historical Park Arena, located at 10215 FM 762 Rd, Richmond, TX 77469 (www.georgeranch.org). This fun-filled evening will include a gourmet dinner, open bar, dancing, entertainment, wine & whiskey pulls, live and silent auctions, a raffle, and much more. Tickets are available for purchase on GiGi’s website – www.gigisplayhouse.org/sugarland/gala.
For more information about DSAM, or GiGi’s Playhouse Sugar Land, or to schedule an interview, please contact Robin Beattie.
Source: Images provided by GiGi’s Playhouse Sugar Land (please request files if needed)