Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Health

Life skills, love shared at GiGi’s

TAMPA ó Learning, life skills and love are offered unconditionally at GiGiís Playhouse Tampa, a Down syndrome achievement center opening Saturday.

Specially-designed therapeutic, educational and career development programs are provided for all ages, all in one place, by a team of trained volunteers.

And hereís the best news: Itís all free.

Community partners and donors sustain the non-profit facility located in the Greenhouse Shoppes at the intersection of Hillsborough and Himes avenues.

"Thereís one paid site coordinator and the rest is run by volunteers," said Christopher Steele, board president, one of a group of impassioned parents who have worked since early 2016 to meet the requirements to open the third GiGiís Playhouse in Florida, the 38th national affiliate location.

"Itís not a day care or a preschool," Steele said. "Parents accompany them. While my son is hitting math therapy, I may tutor or read to another child or cook with some adults."

Eventually, there will be more than 30 programs for newborns to adults with Down syndrome, their family members and caregivers. Numerous organizations, such as Special Olympics Florida, will deliver some of their programs on site as well.

The five initial offerings range from "LMNOP," language and movement sessions for infants up to 3 or 4 years old to the Advocacy and Inspiration Team for ages 18 and up to design their own independent living curriculum, such as cooking skills, and become role models for the younger kids.

Also Special Olympics Young Athletes, teaching sports, following directions, taking turns and more for ages 2 1/2 to 7.

"The calendar will start small and expand on a monthly basis as we grow," said Nicki Rawlings, outreach team leader, "based on availability of volunteers, including speech, occupational and physical therapists."

The 3,700-square-foot center has a gym, a stage, a break room to learn basic culinary skills, two math and literacy tutoring labs and an adult area for career development.

Elle Rawlings, 5, who participated in GiGiís Playhouse program in Utah, couldnít be more excited, said her mother, readying for the opening festivities.

"Sheís been running around testing everything, the climbing gym and obstacle course, the wall of mirrors... sheís entertained herself for hours."

There are more than 450,000 individuals with Down syndrome in the United States, more than 3,400 live in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties.

"One in 700 children are diagnosed with Down syndrome and it is the least funded chromosonal disability," said Steele, adding his seven-year-old son Tommy canít wait "to have a place he can call his own with other children like him and grow and become his "best of all."

Nancy Gianni founded GiGiís Playhouse named for her daughter in Illinois in 2003 to change the way the world views Down syndrome. She and GiGi, now 16, will attend the ribbon cutting this weekend.

"Itís the dream of a brick and mortar location to come together as a community, to pass referrals, create friendships and share resources," Rawlings said.

Contact Amy Scherzer at [email protected]

Comments
Watchdog slams safeguards for foster kids on psych drugs

Watchdog slams safeguards for foster kids on psych drugs

WASHINGTON — Thousands of foster children may be getting powerful psychiatric drugs prescribed to them without basic safeguards, says a federal watchdog agency that found a failure to care for youngsters whose lives have already been disrupted...
Published: 09/17/18
Doctors dismissed her, but she turned out to be right after years of needless suffering

Doctors dismissed her, but she turned out to be right after years of needless suffering

The prominent New York City gynecologist didnít bother to conceal his disdain."Stop practicing Google medicine," Lina Kharnak remembers the doctor chiding her when she asked about a possible cause of her worsening leg and back pain. The disease about...
Published: 09/16/18
Updated: 09/17/18
Tampa General Hospitalís East Pavilion advised not to use running water after water main break

Tampa General Hospitalís East Pavilion advised not to use running water after water main break

Since Saturday morning, patients and staff in Tampa General Hospitalís East Pavilion and Rehabilitation Center have been advised against using running water.As of Sunday afternoon, it was not known when the recommended ban would be lifted.According t...
Published: 09/16/18
Anger management: Learn healthy ways to handle it, and unlearn bad behavior

Anger management: Learn healthy ways to handle it, and unlearn bad behavior

What makes you mad? Dropping your new phone in the toilet — after deciding not to take the extra coverage that would have replaced it? Being cut off in traffic? Having a parking place "stolen" from you? Doing dishes after shopping for and cooki...
Published: 09/14/18
Red Tide outbreak can be particularly bad for people with asthma or allergies

Red Tide outbreak can be particularly bad for people with asthma or allergies

The toxic algae bloom known as Red Tide has left a trail of dead fish in its wake up the western coast of Florida. The bloom that had been wreaking havoc on our southern neighbors has now made its way to the Tampa Bay area. High concentrations of the...
Published: 09/14/18
In Florida and everywhere, a big shift is underway. It’s changing the way we go to the doctor.

In Florida and everywhere, a big shift is underway. It’s changing the way we go to the doctor.

The health care business in Florida and across the nation is the midst of monumental change as insurers, hospital chains and even retailers begin to venture outside their traditional roles. Hospitals are getting into the insurance end of the busines...
Published: 09/17/18
Calling teen vaping Ďepidemic,í officials weigh flavor ban

Calling teen vaping Ďepidemic,í officials weigh flavor ban

WASHINGTON ó U.S. health officials are sounding the alarm about teenage use of e-cigarettes, calling the problem an "epidemic" and ordering manufacturers to reverse the trend or risk having their flavored vaping products pulled from the market. The w...
Published: 09/12/18
Doctors explore lifting barriers to living organ donation

Doctors explore lifting barriers to living organ donation

WASHINGTON ó Surgeons turned down Terra Goudge for the liver transplant that was her only shot at surviving a rare cancer. Her tumor was too advanced, they said ó even though Goudge had a friend ready to donate, no matter those odds. "I have a living...
Published: 09/10/18
Florida has more people using Obamacare than any other state. Will that continue in 2019?

Florida has more people using Obamacare than any other state. Will that continue in 2019?

With just about two months to go before the start of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, local advocates say they are worried they wonít have nearly enough resources to get the word out to consumers about some confusing changes this year. Mo...
Published: 09/06/18
Updated: 09/07/18
Airport security trays carry more cold germs than toilets, study finds

Airport security trays carry more cold germs than toilets, study finds

LONDON ó Airport security is there to protect you, but it may also give you the sniffles ó or worse.To all the places and surfaces weíve been warned are teeming with germs or bacteria ó your pets, the subway seat, airplane cabins, the ATM ó add the a...
Published: 09/05/18