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Des Moines-based GiGi’s Playhouse Enhances its Down Syndrome Mission with New Indoor Play Area
October 22, 2012
“The GiGi’s Playhouse mission is to ‘educate, inspire and achieve,’” says board member Gretchen Baldwin. “PLAYTIME totally fits this mission!”
The new soft-sculpted foam, indoor play area at the Down syndrome center has been described as “very beneficial” by physicians, as well as occupational, speech and physical therapists.
With 14 locations nationwide, GiGi’s Playhouse is a Down syndrome awareness and educational center that provides resources, specialized teaching, and support to individuals with Down syndrome, their families and the community.
Baldwin’s 9-year-old son, Joshua, has Down syndrome. She says the Des Moines, Iowa center used to have a play area but it wasn’t as safe, clean and inspiring as many of the parents wanted.
“I was at the mall play area and I thought, ‘Look at all these kids playing,’” recalls Baldwin. “My son had never been able to play in the mall because of health issues and I knew numerous other families whose children couldn’t play in the mall, too.”
Baldwin Googled “soft play equipment” and found PLAYTIME, LLC.
She also spoke to doctors and occupational, physical and speech therapists about the soft play equipment and, she says, they each believed the new play area concept could be beneficial for the children and families that the center serves.
“Physicians said it would be good for our kids to have a place to play without lots of other kids around. Also, PLAYTIME’s antibacterial coating was huge for us,” she says. “The physical and occupational therapists said that anything which incorporates physical activity into fun would encourage our kids to play, improving their coordination and strength.”
The speech therapists suggested the play area could be incorporated into its literacy program, turning reading into an experiential learning process.
Baldwin says that children, parents and siblings all love the new play area at the Des Moines center.
“GiGi’s Playhouse use the new play area to educate through our literacy program. Obviously, the system is inspiring! And by playing on this system, our kids can build their strength, coordination and creativity to achieve amazing things," she adds.
“We are so excited to have PLAYTIME at our playhouse!”