Gigi's Playhouse expands, opens store

Ten years ago, Gigi's Playhouse opened in Hoffman Estates. It's a place where children with Down syndrome and their families come together for various activities and support.
October 20, 2013 7:29:37 AM PDT
Ten years ago, Gigi's Playhouse opened in Hoffman Estates. It's a place where children with Down syndrome and their families come together for various activities and support.

Next week, Gigi's is expanding with a multi-purpose center that will offer much more. Gigi's Playhouse Down syndrome Achievement Center is the new name. They will house all existing programs, plus a Gigi's University and a store called Hugs and Mugs. From infants to adults, Gigi's has something for every age group.

"I didn't realize what I started. We started 10 years ago with this location here in Hoffman Estates, and we now have 14 locations to date. Our last one was Mexico," said Nancy Gianni, founder and the mother of Gigi. "We have three more opening in the next two months... and we have about 100 inquiries to open in other locations all across the country."

The new state-of-the-art center will be 10,000 square feet.

"It will also house our training center; we have our locations from all across the country come here for training," Gianni said. "And it will house a gym, and it will also house Gigi's University and a retail store in front for our adults to run.

"From the time we opened Gigi's Playhouse, I 've always wanted to have a business for our adults... I know they're capable. I can look in their eyes, and I see their potential... they need a place to show their skills and to house their skills," Gianni said.

Megan Niklas, 33, is excited about the new center. She will be involved with Hugs and Mugs.

"I have learned to make these mugs, which I've made several mugs, and I really, really would like to improve my mugs and artwork," she said.

"The tagline for Gigi's University is 'Confident you, healthy you, whole you.' It's about the whole person," Gianni said.

"I want to learn to kind of to be able to make change," Niklas said. "I also wanted to be able to improve on my outlook."

Gigi's Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Center is located at 2350 West Higgins Road, Hoffman Estates. Information and schedules of programs are available on their website at gigisplayhouse.org


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