Celebrate Disability Awareness Month with GiGi’s Playhouse

Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 8:52 PM EST
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VESTAL (WBNG)-- March is Disability Awareness Month, an opportunity to raise awareness of the needs and the potential of people with disabilities.

GiGi’s Playhouse of the Southern Tier located in Vestal is an organization that provides educational and therapeutic programs to people with down syndrome and other developmental disabilities.

The Site Manager of GiGi’s Playhouse Katie Whaley said something to help create awareness this month is to treat those with disabilities just like anyone else.

“Simply acknowledge that they are human beings,” said Whaley. “Maybe they don’t respond verbally maybe they use a device maybe they make noises maybe it’s something different than we are used to but they are still an individual.”

Matthew Ritchie and Megan Mahon are GiGi’s participants who are in a relationship. They met each other at a gala where they shared a dance. They both consider GiGi’s a special place.

“I love GiGi’s playhouse,” said Ritchie. “I love coming here and helping others,” said Mahon.

Whaley said the best thing people can do to create awareness this month is to make sure they treat people with disabilities no differently than others.

“They’re not just special because they have down syndrome or autism,” said Whaley. “They’re special because of who they are, so just treating everyone like a human is the easiest way.”

March 21 is National World Down Syndrome Day. The GiGi’s will be celebrating by having students at local schools table for down syndrome awareness. They will also be hosting a karaoke party at the playhouse that evening.