GiGi's mobile pop-up, sponsored by the Down Syndrome Advocacy Group
of Central Illinois, offers free therapeutic and educational
programs geared toward individuals with Down Syndrome. These
programs are designed for various age groups from birth through
Gigi's Playhouse is a nationwide network of Down Syndrome
Achievement Centers and is free to families because of generous
donations and the support of many volunteers.
Starting in October, programming will be offered throughout the
community by trained volunteers. Natalie Marquez has worked to set
up the local program with the help of Hannah Rae and Jessica
Howerton. Several other volunteers also assisted with Saturday's
Daniell Bargstadt works to get programs started and said, "We help
with the launch and then depend on local volunteers committed to
bringing Gigi's Playhouse to their community."
A list of the signature programs unveiled this weekend is described
on their website: https://gigisplayhouse.org.
The Language Music N' Our Peeps, or LMNOP program, is designed for
children from zero through three. It teaches children basic sign
language and communication through music and language based
activities. Other programs help with developing gross motor and fine
For Saturday, Bargstadt started the LMNOP program by singing "Look
Who Came to Gigi's Today," inserting each of the children's names as
Next up she read "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" and had each child hold up
their picture of the various animals.
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Other activities included a song where children danced with colorful
scarves and passed them around the group.
The Playhouse Pals for five to eight-year-olds assists children in
developing language and social skills as they interact with peers.
Active games help with gross motor, fine motor, and self-help
For Playhouse Pals, nine to 12 years of age, children did a relay
running sponges back and forth between buckets of water.
They also bounced balls up and down as they shook a big parachute
The Teen Tastic program for 13 to 18-year-olds focuses on the
development of social skills though team activities that help teach
turn-taking and problem solving.
The Fantastic Friends program for those age 18 and above, supports
the development of social skills and language through interacting
with peers in activities they plan themselves. Games, dancing, and
community outings are some of the activities.
To introduce these programs, Janell Woolard led families in Zumba
with everyone dancing to the beat of well-known pop songs.
Information stations displayed some of the other programs offered.
Jennifer Parsons from the Quad Cities works with the math and
literacy programs. These programs meet 45 minutes once a week for
ten weeks and materials are sent home for families to work on.
These are just part of the dozens of therapy based programs that
help with development.
Anne Marie Brown, who helped get families signed up, said over
fifteen families registered.
To learn more about what is offered, go to the site: