Exhibit gives voice to people with Down syndrome

November 12, 2009 (CHICAGO) For the past year, a collection of beautifully shot portraits has traveled across the country showing the public that people with Down syndrome have voices.

"Our kids wear their diagnosis on their face, and this is a way for people to come and see deep into their souls, see the other side of them, see that they feel, they laugh, they cry; they're just like everybody else," said Nancy Gianni.

Gianni is a mother of a child with Down syndrome. She is also the founder of five Down syndrome awareness centers called GiGi's Playhouse.

The idea of this traveling gallery was created by Nancy and a few other talented people. Photographer Thomas Balsamo is one of them. He photographed 36 individuals for this project.

"It was a really great experience, and I was able to try to get them relaxed and be themselves so I could kind of capture who they were, capture the soul through the eyes," said Balsamo.

Lisa Schuh, mother of Teagan, and grandpa Steve Bagby took this project to another level.

"He has a real special connection with Teagan," said Schuh. "He's one of her favorite. Papa was one of the things that came out of her mouth, so 'I Have a Voice' is our tribute to her, because we never thought that our lives would be the way they are without her. I mean, she is a wonderful blessing and gift like you wouldn't believe, so we are trying to share with other families that this a wonderful life."

"This is just a small part, the voice that they have, their voices, are so much larger and have so much more to say, and that's what we like to put in the book, and get some input from their family, and see what their families have to say," said Gianni.

"I Have a Voice" is currently at the Des Plaines Library. The address is 1501 Ellinwood St. in Des Plaines. The book is being produced and hopefully with be available soon.

For more information, you can go to www.gigisplayhouse.com.

Copyright © 2024 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.