November 5, 2013
I first learned about GiGi’s Playhouse through a Minneapolis Star-Tribune article that a friend sent me. GiGi’s Playhouse is a wonderful place (15 locations around the United States and one in Mexico) where kids with Down Syndrome can go to relax, have fun, learn, and also do cool music and theatre-related stuff.
It’s free, and it’s run mostly by volunteers from families who have kids with Down Syndrome. Both kids and families feel welcomed and supported at GiGi’s Playhouse.
In all their programs, they use song, music, and dance to get the kids involved and to help them to learn.
They start with babies, in programs like Language, Music ‘N’ Our Peeps, using music and movement. The Teen Drama Troupe gets older kids involved in putting on a play — their way.
The Minnesota branch of GiGi’s Playhouse has a Theatre Group for kids 9 to 12, and one for kids 13 to 17, that uses all facets of drama, including improvisation, to help the kids learn communication skills and to build their confidence. They have a super stage area, with donated costumes (yay, donors!).
I think it’s wonderful that theatre and music (and so many other activities) are available for kids with Down Syndrome. Just a couple of other groups that use theatre this way include Shabang! Theatre in the United Kingdom, and 4th Wall Special Needs Theatre in Michigan.