Once upon a time, not so long ago, parents were not provided with up to date, accurate, or, in some cases, any information when receiving a Down syndrome diagnosis. Maybe a kind word, a pitying look, and a referral to the local Infants and Toddlers Program. That all changed when, in 2001, several moms crossed paths; moms who wanted so much more for their children and the local Down syndrome community at large.
Over the next three years, information pertaining to the best doctors, therapists, educators, activities, conferences, and other various resources was shared amongst these families. This group of parents soon found that the local Down syndrome community was growing, at which point, the need for a local Down syndrome organization was identified. With permission from The ARC of the Central Chesapeake Region to operate as their affiliate, the Anne Arundel County Down Syndrome Connection was established. Be it networking opportunities, communication with the public, the development of educational materials, social occasions, school system support, training for medical providers, etc., throughout the years, a wonderful partnership with The ARC has been fostered, as The ARC has supported the work of Down Syndrome Connection every step of the way.
In 2015, it was decided that, after laying the groundwork for the success of Down Syndrome Connection, a physical “place” within the community, where Down syndrome was completely accepted and where everyone was celebrated, was desired. It was at this point that the Down Syndrome Connection decided that “Gigi’s Playhouse,” a Down syndrome achievement center, was absolutely the place. With a generous donation from Down Syndrome Connection to get the playhouse off the ground, along with the dedication of many brilliant, fearless, and hardworking volunteers, the Annapolis location of GiGi’s Playhouse opened its doors in February of 2018.
Today, Down Syndrome Connection is still a pivotal part of the Down syndrome community and greater community as a whole. The mission of the Down Syndrome Connection is to connect individuals with Down syndrome and their families to supports within the community while promoting a culture of inclusion, advocacy, education, and family support, all aimed at improving the lives of those living with Down syndrome.