First Down Syndrome Achievement Center Opens in North Dakota

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There’s a new playhouse in Fargo that is about more than just fun.

It’s the first down syndrome achievement center to open in North Dakota.

GiGi’s CEO and President Nancy Gianni welcomes and greets families into GiGi’s 25th Playhouse.

She talks with others about the importance of a Down syndrome center in the community.

“Everybody told me they were sorry instead of congratulations and it was a birth of a beautiful baby and I just wanted to change I wanted to take away that fear that’s associated with down syndrome because their some of the strongest most amazing people that I know,” Gianni said. 

Her 13–year–old daughter GiGi poses for pictures.

She’s the one who inspired her mom to open the playhouses that offer educational and therapeutic programming to families for free.

“It’s so scary when you first find out, and you’re blindsided by that diagnosis. Here’s a positive place you can come,”Gianni said.

Nikki Tourangeau is a mother from Moorhead and remembers when she found out her daughter was diagnosed with Down syndrome.

“That was my biggest my biggest fear to get over is what the world would do to her,” Tourangeau said. 

That’s why volunteers say they want to make sure families know they aren’t alone.

“We want our community and our families and everyone to accept individuals with Down syndrome. That they have so much potential to make this world a better place,” said GiGi’s Fargo Board President Kristin Nelsen.

GiGi’s is about more than just having fun. It’s being a place where the community can come together and support each other.

“It’s somewhere for our family to come and belong and be together and learn together and grow together,” Tourangeau said. 

Volunteers say they hope it won’t just be a place to play but a place to slide a message of acceptance into the community.

Gianni said she is hoping to have 30 GiGi’s Playhouses open by the end of the year.

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