Lakewood achievement center celebrates lives of those with Down syndrome

Lakewood achievement center celebrates lives of those with Down syndrome

LAKEWOOD, OH (WOIO) - Gigi's Playhouse is an achievement center designed specifically for kids with Down Syndrome and their families.

After a major fundraising effort, Gigi's was able to open its doors in January at 15316 Detroit Road in Lakewood.

"We have the support of other parents that are going through similar challenges and similar celebrations, the joys that go along with having a child with Down syndrome," said Debbie Cluts of Cleveland.

The playhouse is the first of its kind in Ohio. Nancy Gianni opened the first Gigi's Playhouse in Illinois more than 10 years ago. Gigi's is named after Gianni's daughter. There are currently 30 Gigi's Playhouses across the United States, and a global playhouse that just opened in Mexico.

Kids with Down syndrome and their parents go to the whimsically designed facilities to play and also to receive free therapy. Celeste Blau says she has been going to Gigi's Playhouse in Lakewood ever since she found out her daughter Clementine would have Down syndrome.

"I really like coming and seeing these older kids because it shows me what Clementine is going to do as she gets older. It's really fun for us to watch the other kids grow and see what they are doing," said Blau.

Down syndrome, or Trisomy 21, is a genetic disorder that affects a person's physical and mental development. The Gigi mission is to elevate people with Down syndrome and help them gain acceptance everywhere.

"We are all about breaking down that barrier and having that worldwide acceptance for individuals with Down syndrome that is a huge part of what we do, why we are here," said Lizz Maxwell, the site coordinator for Gigi's in Lakewood.

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