The local supermom changing the perception of Down syndrome

It’s time to make a real difference

Nancy Gianni doesn’t just want people to be aware of Down syndrome any longer. It’s time for action, she says, and she’s calling on people across the country to really get to know someone with Down syndrome, to become a friend, to truly accept them.

Gianni, the powerhouse behind Gigi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Center, which began in Hoffman Estates after her baby Gigi was born with Down syndrome 13 years ago, is behind the push to change this month’s designation as Down Syndrome Awareness Month to Down Syndrome Acceptance Month. Gigi’s has been promoting Acceptance Month through its 31 locations across the U.S. and Mexico for several years, but Gianni hopes for more.

She is already picking up traction.

“We don’t just want people to be aware; we want them to stop and say hello,” she says. “You don’t know what a blessing our kids are.”

To her it means that babies being born today with Down syndrome are greeted with congratulations, not condolences, that a child with Down syndrome gets a new friend or lunch buddy, that a person stops and says hello to someone with Down syndrome.

The effort is also part of a push for Generation G, a campaign Gigi’s Playhouse launched this year to encourage people to make a conscious decision to be a better person every day. “We want people to take action; we want people to get out of their comfort zone,” she says.

Gigi’s Playhouse’s mission has always been acceptance for all, she says, and the Playhouses have always welcomed the community through its doors.

The 31 locations are planning events this month. One includes the 12th annual GiGiFest on Sunday, Oct. 16 in Hoffman Estates. In addition to family fun and treats from Hugs& Mugs, the gift shop and café run by adults with Down syndrome, it will include the annual Red Carpet Calendar walk for those included in the 2017 #GenerationG Take Action Calendar.

Gianni’s daughter, Gigi, is a busy eighth grader who is a cheerleader and in the school play. Her motto on all of her Instagram posts is, “I Love My Life.”

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