CICERO, NY (WSYR-TV)
What started as a local playhouse near Chicago has evolved into an educational phenomenon for adults and children with down syndrome. On Saturday, the first Gigi’s Playhouse in Central New York opened in Drivers Village in Cicero.
"It’s amazing, it warms my heart. It was 10 months of a lot of work but it was all for the kids," said Ally Donofrio, President of Gigi's Playhouse-Syracuse.
Gigi's Playhouse is a place of hope, where the daily struggles of down syndrome are quickly forgotten.
For Ally Donofrio the grand-opening of the center is life-changing.
For two years, she's navigated her way through countless challenges to meet the needs of her daughter Addison.
"It grows with you and you never age out. It’s with you from the day you're born all the way until adulthood, there's something for you at Gigi's Playhouse and we knew we had to have it," said Donofrio.
At Gigi’s Playhouse, Kids and adults with down syndrome will learn everything from reading to math to skills that will help them make it through life.
There's even something special for the parents.
"It's going be great for us getting to know people in the community because without this place it would be very difficult, so it’s a great place to educate everybody involved," said Jay Dunn.
People like Kayla McKeon, who is a motivational speaker with down syndrome, knows first hand just how important that education is.
"I think it’s very important that we all come together as one and we are one big unit. It's not just one person it’s a diversity of everyone coming together," said McKeon.
The center is free for families. It offers 20 educational, social and networking programs. For more information on hours and programs, click here.