January 11, 2011

GiGi's Playhouse Aims to Change Perception of Down Syndrome

With so many people working hard to bring Gigi's Playhouse to Atlanta, I was thrilled to see such a wonderful article about what other Gigi's Play are doing in other cities. Here is an excerpt below from the Woodbridge Patch. Click HERE for the full article.

GiGi's Playhouse Aims to Change Perception of Down Syndrome
By Melissa Tussing

"Nancy Gianni is on a mission.
Walk into the Woodridge Public Library this month and you’ll see that mission at work. In the lobby is the 30-foot “i have a voice” display, capturing the faces of 25 people with Down syndrome ranging in age from 6 months to 30 years.
Each photo is accompanied with a quote, like this one under a photo of 4-year-old Veronica: “The sky is the limit. I can do anything I put my mind to. But make no mistake. I will do them when I decide. After all, since the day I was born, my way of doing things have always been ‘on my own terms.’"
The point of the gallery is for the audience to rethink what it means to have Down syndrome, Gianni said.
“It’s really about changing that old stereotype about what people think Down syndrome is, to not look at people by their diagnosis but by who they are," she said.

The display is hard to ignore, Gianni said. “They’re huge, larger than life, individual photographs,” she said. “Their eyes just look right through you. It’ll command your attention. You can’t help but stop and look at it.”
 The gallery isn’t just about spreading awareness about Down syndrome.
“It’s a big sense of self-esteem,” Gianni said. “It’s about self-confidence, whether it’s Down syndrome or anything else that may make you different.”

The gallery is one part of Gianni’s work as founder of GiGi’s Playhouse, a nonprofit Down syndrome awareness center. There are actually nine playhouses, located in Iowa, Illinois, Georgia and New York. Each location offers free programming for those with Down syndrome, from literacy classes and tutoring to play time and social events."
 Click HERE for the full article.

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