GiGi’s Playhouse, a nationwide network of Down syndrome achievement centers is opening its 32nd location in Rochester.
The concept was started in Chicago by Nancy Gianni who named the organization after her daughter who was born with Down syndrome in 2003.
Chris Tumminelli is on the board for the Rochester location, and said as a father of a son with Down syndrome, spaces like these are vital.
"What it will allow parents to do is congregate and get to know each other. One of the most important pieces is you really need to connect with the community and other people that have a child with Down syndrome."
GiGi’s Playhouse offers a number of programs and classes for all ages, ranging from one on one education and physical fitness to preparing for the workforce and opportunities for both parents and children to socialize freely. Admission to GiGi's Playhouse is free.
The space is also equipped with a gym, theater room, full kitchen and 2 classrooms.
Tumminelli says similar programs are run by service agencies with stricter schedules, while Gigi's functions on a drop in basis.
"You would have to get in to the service agency and apply and then get into their programs. But what we offer is something where you don’t have to be a member, you don’t have to get medical billing or service coordination to use our facility."
GiGi's Playhouse is located at 372 North Goodman Street at the Village Gate.