Nonprofit Down syndrome achievement center, GiGi’s Playhouse, has received two new grants to expand its program development.  The Daniels Fund has granted $38,000, and the Buell Foundation awarded $15,000 to help the Playhouse offer individuals with Down syndrome free educational, therapeutic and career development programs from prenatal diagnosis through adulthood.

Gigi’s Playhouse is the first and only Down syndrome achievement center in Colorado. The nonprofit celebrated the grand opening of the Denver facility earlier this fall. 

In a press release about the grants, Beth Jeub, board president of GiGi’s Playhouse Denver, talked about the impact the money would make.

“We are so grateful to the Daniels Fund and the Buell Foundation for recognizing the opportunity to invest in individuals with Down syndrome,” Jeub said. “This funding will help us to create an inspirational and dedicated place for loved ones to celebrate their child or friend and benefit from free, purposeful programs that unleash joy, confidence and continuous improvement.”  

GiGi’s Playhouse was founded by Nancy Gianni, whose third child, GiGi, was born with Down syndrome. 

On the nonprofit’s website, Gianni writes about GiGi’s birth and the impact it made on her as a mother.

“I cannot even begin to tell you the total fear and devastation I felt. Everything they were telling us about Down syndrome was so negative! Suddenly no one had eye contact with me anymore, they kept the door to my room closed and they kept sending in the clergy!  If this was happening to us already, what was life going to be like for our kids? I was so afraid to bring her home and start this ‘new’ life,” Gianni wrote. “I remember when people first came to visit.  There were hugs of sympathy, not congratulations. They would tip toe towards the bassinet and seemed afraid to look inside to see what she would look like. Then when they finally mustered up the courage to look, they saw this beautiful little baby and they were shocked! They always exclaimed, ‘Oh my gosh! She is adorable!’ I really don’t know what they were expecting to see, but finally people started to realize she was just a baby.”

Gianni said she made a promise to her daughter that she would change the way the world looked at people with Down syndrome.

Now, with 55 locations in the U.S. and abroad, and with more than 220,000 program participation hours, GiGi’s Playhouse is well on the way to keeping that promise, accomplishing their mission of changing the way the world views Down syndrome and sending a global message of acceptance for all.

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