Ann Marie's All Stars: Gigi's Playhouse

Posted at 5:31 PM, May 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-24 23:22:45-04

Gigi’s Playhouse is the country’s only network of Down Syndrome Achievement Centers and now Metro Detroit is about to get this huge resource in our community.

While our All Stars celebrate those going above and beyond in schools, Gigi’s Playhouse provides resources for students our families can’t find in schools.  These passionate advocates are exactly what it means to be an All Star.

“They’re just so excited to have this environment to pour into each other and see how we can help each other out and lift each other up and help out kids be the best they can be reach their fullest potential,” mom Ashley Caza said.

It’s a place people with Down Syndrome have waited for for a long time.

“When you look at your typical kids they have all of their other programs,” Lisa Kocab of Gigi’s Playhouse said.  “They have ballet, they have basketball, they have music and a lot of these programs aren’t available to our kids- they’re like we don’t know how to teach a kid with Down Syndrome.”

Kocab was told her son P.J. would never be able to read, the Caza Family was told the same was likely for their son Zac.

“When you first get that diagnosis whether it’s prenatal or right after birth,” Kocab said. “You go through a mourning period.”

That was until they found Gigi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Centers that are expanding.  They’re popping up all over the country and for the first time children and adults have access to the educational and therapeutic resources that simply never used to exist.

“With this playhouse pouring into him he’s going to be capable of anything,” dad Bob Caza said.

That means little Zac will soon be learning to read with the help of Gigi’s Playhouse and the methods they’ve uncovered work best through research.

“There’s one-on-one tutoring in math and there’s programs for gross motor skills and fine moto skills- everything’s been designed by an educator or therapist,” Kocab said.

With an estimated grand opening next spring Gigi’s Playhouse Detroit is still in the fundraising stage and working to pick a location all while building a community here in Metro Detroit breaking stigma, stereotypes and expectations of the Down Syndrome Community. 

“Yes they can read and yes they can get a job and yes people with Down Syndrome get married,” Kocab said. “It’s about changing the community and we do it one child, one family and one diagnosis at a time and this is our time. This is Detroit’s time.”

There is a fundraiser next month to raise money for Gigi’s Playhouse Detroit you can find that information along with more on resources and how to donate on theirwebsite.