Why a Gigi’s Playhouse Milwaukee???

For those of you who know me pretty well, you know that I have been hard at work trying to get a Gigi’s Playhouse to open here in the Milwaukee area.  I am surrounded by an incredible group of smart, talented people who are working right alongside me.  For me, the question of why doesn’t make much sense.  Why wouldn’t I want a place where my child can attend playgroups and classes that are therapeutic in nature?  Why wouldn’t I want him to be able to get free one on one tutoring designed for how a child with Down syndrome learns to read or do math?  Why wouldn’t I want to connect with new and veteran families who are on the same journey as myself?  I can’t think of one reason.  And then to realize that a Gigi’s Playhouse would offer all of these opportunities for PJ and all other families free of charge?  Well, that’s just icing on the cake.  But lately I have heard of a few grumblings from people who worry about mainstreaming and inclusion.  So, this post is for them.

To those who are not well versed in the educational language, mainstreaming is when a child with a disability attends school in a regular education classroom.  They don’t sit all day in a special education room.  They will, however, be pulled out for certain services if needed.  This could include speech therapy and small group reading intervention services, among other things.  The term inclusion means that the child will be mainstreamed into a regular education classroom and will only receive services in that setting.  The argument can be made for both.  In the school district that I live in, the practice focuses upon mainstreaming and pull out when needed.  This works for my son Joey and it works for me.  But I do understand that not everyone would be agreeable to this.

My first question to someone who questions whether or not a  Gigi’s would be:  Do you take your child to therapy?  Why?  I am guessing the answer would be that the therapy is designed for each individual child to help him or her be successful.  Here is my Ah ha moment.  Every program at Gigi’s Playhouse is designed for children and adults with Down syndrome so that they can be more successful.  A playhouse does not replace therapy, birth to three, or school.  A playhouse is supplemental and the programs offered will only help to ensure each child has more success in a inclusion or mainstreamed setting in school.  It also provides an avenue for children to be successful because they won’t be comparing themselves to their non-disabled peers.

I firmly believe that PJ will be able to attend school in the general education setting.  I will make sure of it.  And I know that him having programs at a Gigi’s will ensure his success throughout his entire educational career.  Gigi’s Playhouse IS coming to Milwaukee.  We plan on opening our doors in September of 2014.  We are currently seeking the best location and raising money.  We need $60,000 to open our doors.  Although this may seem like a lot, it’s really  not.  This is one really big Gala fundraiser, or a great run/walk.  Gigi’s will open here and I can’t wait until I can bring PJ!!!



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