GiGi’s Playhouse opened its first Arkansas location Saturday at 301 North Shackleford Road, Suite D2 in Little Rock. Almost 400 people joined the center for its Grand Opening celebration.
GiGi’s Playhouse is a Down Syndrome Achievement Center that will provide free therapeutic and educational programs and resources for children, adults, and their families. Parents and members of the community came together to bring the center to Arkansas because they believe it will change lives for the better.
"We're excited to serve kids and adults with Down syndrome in Arkansas, and not just in Central Arkansas - also around the state," said Michael Christian who serves as GiGi's Playhouse Little Rock Board President. "If you have to drive a few hours for an appointment in Little Rock, GiGi's can be your home away from home. We have comfortable couches, board games and toys, and we want you to drop by to visit with us. We're also planning some ways to serve rural Arkansans even if they can't travel here."
Those who attended Saturday were able to tour the newly renovated, sensory-friendly facility, which includes two learning labs, a family entertainment room, a library, a fitness studio, and a large kitchen. Much of the materials and services used to construct the space were donated by the community.
GiGi’s Playhouse founder and President, Nancy Gianni, traveled from Illinois to attend the opening with her daughter GiGi, who is the motivation behind the creation of these Playhouses.
Nancy Gianni founded the first GiGi's Playhouse 16 years ago as a place of acceptance. Arkansas' new location is the 46th GiGi's Playhouse in the nation.
At the Grand Opening, Gianni said: “I believe in individuals with Down syndrome in a way I can't explain. I'm blessed to be around their incredible spirit every day, which is why I will never stop fighting for them.”
The GiGi’s Playhouse mission is to change the way the world views Down syndrome and to send a global message of acceptance for all. Little Rock’s Playhouse will serve as an inspirational and dedicated place to celebrate and support people with Down syndrome from prenatal diagnosis through adulthood.
To learn more about GiGi's Playhouse Little Rock, visit www.gigisplayhouse.org/littlerock for more information.