GiGi’s Playhouse Center offers acceptance and a place to pursue dreams

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

Parents wear multiple hats. Beyond meeting a child’s basic needs are those of physical and emotional. The playing field changes when one has a child born with differences.

The diagnosis of Down syndrome can jolt a parent’s world.

There is no cure, but treatment programs can help improve the quality of life.

GiGi’s Playhouse was created after founder Nancy Gianni gave birth to her daughter GiGi. Gianni’s vision was to change the perception of Down syndrome and elevate her daughter’s success, according to the website.

Achievement and acceptance is the framework of GiGi’s Playhouse.

“We call it a lifetime commitment to our families,” the group’s Roswell executive director Howie Rosenberg said.

“For example, we start with a parent or prospective parents who might call us from a doctor’s office where they have just gotten a diagnosis. They are terrified and don’t know what to do,” he said. “They are looking for community support.”

From prenatal to adulthood GiGi’s Playhouse offers free educational, therapeutic and career training for individuals with Down syndrome.

The programs encourage a community among parents and caregivers, address the whole family unit and “high expectations” for their child.

“As a parent of a child with a disability, it can feel as though sometimes your family doesn’t know where they fit in or belong. Everyone has a place at GiGi’s Playhouse because it builds a network of individuals that believes in acceptance for all,” parent Marci Schlemmer wrote.

Rosenberg believes the adult program is extremely important. Once out of high school they are left behind as others move on with their own lives - options to further progress dwindle.

“We run a really great epic program for adults that help them get into jobs and independent living,” the executive director said. “We have people that live a very full life.”

Community outreach brings services outside of Roswell that assist in building supportive networks for families. The organization is open to going to any location in Georgia needing only a point person that can help recruit families from that area.

“Everything is free. There is no barrier for entry. We just want you to come and get service,” Rosenberg said.


Each Sunday we write about a deserving person or charity events such as fun-runs, volunteer projects and other community gatherings that benefit a good cause. To submit a story for us to cover, send to