Our story began in 2002 with the birth of Nancy Gianni’s daughter, GiGi, with Down syndrome. When GiGi was nine months old, Nancy told her husband, Paul, of her dream to create a place where children with Down syndrome, along with their parents and siblings, could convene to learn, play, and network in a supportive and understanding environment. The first GiGi’s Playhouse opened in Hoffman Estates in October, 2003. In 2006 a local McHenry resident learned that her newborn niece had Down syndrome. She researched the subject, discovered "GiGi's Playhouse,” and visited some of their groups and classes. When she learned that the organization’s leaders hoped to expand to McHenry County, she went to work by talking with local parents of children with Down syndrome, and a truly grass roots effort was born. GiGi’s Playhouse McHenry County opened in 2008. Our core message is Global Acceptance for everyone, which we live out every day by celebrating the achievements of individuals with Down syndrome through programs, special events and critical social change campaigns. The staff at GiGi’s Playhouse McHenry County includes two paid staff members: a Site Coordinator and a Speech Language Pathologist. They are assisted by approximately 100 volunteers who work with the Playhouse on programs, awareness, advocacy and fundraising. Today we directly serve approximately 180 clients and family members. Our advocacy and outreach activities impact thousands of others throughout McHenry County. All of our programs are free of charge.