October is Down syndrome Awareness Month, a time used to celebrate the individuals and families affected by Down syndrome. National and regional organizations plan events and social media campaigns to promote local volunteering or fundraising opportunities and to show support for the Down syndrome community.
GiGi’s Playhouse is a national Down syndrome Achievement Center that is using its local presence to provide educational, social and career assistance to local children and adults with Down syndrome. Katie Vaughan, the Site Manager for GiGi’s Playhouse Fox Valley, communicated through email.
“GiGi’s Playhouse Fox Valley celebrates Down syndrome every day, but for DSAM we are highlighting a different family each day on social media.” Vaughan said. “We also participated in the Naperville Half Marathon and 5k as a charity team on Oct. 20. We also will have runners in the Kid Marathon on Oct. 19.”
Throughout the year, GiGi’s Playhouse hosts a multiple therapeutic and community events and programs, including one-on-one tutoring, holiday parties, and clubs and performances. The Fox Valley facility partners with Steps Dance Center and local universities and high schools for peer activities.
Central students and the Naperville community are encouraged to become involved in organizations like GiGi’s Playhouse, where students can become literacy or math tutors, help with holiday parties, or become program assistants. One way GiGi’s Playhouse recommends showing support is by taking the Generation G pledge.
“Generation G is a conscious decision to be better every day. Be Accepting. Be Generous. Be Kind. Generation G challenges the status vquo by stepping outside of comfort zones,” Vaughan said. “Sit with a new friend at lunch. Smile and say hi to someone new. Volunteer. Then share how you are living Generation G by tagging #generationG on social media.”
At Central, students are volunteering through Little Aces Tennis and Bowling Teams or showing support through the Adapted PE classes.
“In past years, [Pat] Adamatis had a day in Adapted PE where everyone wore crazy socks in order to show the support and love our school has for those members of NCHS who have Down syndrome,” according to one adapted PE leader who requested to remain anonymous.
While no spirit days have been announced to celebrate DSAM in the PE department, NCHS students still have the ability to show their support through volunteer, social media campaigns and fundraising.
“Thank you Naperville Central High School for your support of GiGi’s Playhouse Fox Valley. We are 99% volunteer run and operate 100% off of donations. We could not do what we do everyday without the support of our community,” Vaughn said.
For more information on DSAM, volunteering, and Generation G, visit the GiGi’s playhouse website: