Differences are defined as a point or way in which people or things are not the same. When we think about differences, we are often struck by them in an “othering” way. It’s human nature to identify the similarities we share. Yet, often what we first notice are the differences. Differences don’t discriminate, not the same doesn’t mean less than —every person is unique. That is why this National Down Syndrome Awareness Month we are proud to highlight GiGi’s Playhouse, an organization that celebrates differences while providing resources to those with Down syndrome.
Changing Lives, One Playhouse at a Time
GiGi’s Playhouse began its journey in 2003 when Nancy Gianni, a devoted mother to GiGi, who has Down syndrome, realized the need for a place where individuals with Down syndrome could thrive and flourish. Fueled by the desire to empower her daughter and others like her, Nancy set out to create a welcoming space that would offer free, life-changing programs and foster a sense of belonging. What started as a single playhouse in Illinois has since blossomed into a nationwide and international network of 58+ locations, with 220,000 program participation hours.
The “I Accept You” Pledge
Acceptance is core to GiGi’s Playhouse’s purpose and mission. That is why it started it’s “I Accept You” program. The goal is to shift awareness to action. It’s one thing to passively acknowledge differences, but it’s so much more powerful when you take action to support others. When you make the pledge, you become a part of #GenerationG, an army of change-makers set on making the world a kinder, better place for all people. You can proudly show your commitment by drawing a “G” in a heart on your hand, and sharing it on social media!
The pledge is, “I Promise to be #GenerationG. I will make a conscious decision to be better every day. I will be Accepting. I will be Generous. I will be Kind.”
“ I made a promise to her that I would change the way the world looked at a person with Down syndrome; that I would help people understand that she and all of her friends were so much more than a diagnosis. With the help of people like you and the Playhouses across the world, that promise is being kept – not just for GiGi but for all our children.” – Nancy Gianni, Founder and Chief Belief Officer of GiGi’s Playhouse
Supporting the Dream: How You Can Get Involved
GiGi’s Playhouse is fueled by the support of generous donors and volunteers. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, they rely on donations to fund their life-changing programs and initiatives. There are various ways to get involved and make a difference, whether through monetary contributions, volunteering at a local playhouse or spreading awareness about their cause on social media.
National Down Syndrome Awareness Month is not only a time to celebrate the uniqueness and brilliance of individuals with Down syndrome, but also a reminder of the power of acceptance and the impact of organizations like GiGi’s Playhouse. The MJ Foundation is honored to feature GiGi’s Playhouse as our Charity of the Month for its commitment to embracing the diversity that enriches our world and supporting the dreams of those who inspire us with their boundless potential. GiGi’s Playhouse is a testament to the fact that with love and support, every individual can achieve greatness, and it is through their remarkable work that we take a step closer to creating a world where differences are accepted and celebrated.