GiGi's Playhouse marks Down Syndrome Acceptance Month this weekend, with GiGiFest Oct. 16 in Hoffman Estates and Habilidades Fair Oct. 15 in Chicago

GiGi's Playhouse Down syndrome Achievement Centers have planned some exciting fall events for Oct. 15 and 16, as they continue to lead the national movement declaring October Down syndrome Acceptance Month.

At its annual GiGiFest on Sunday, Oct. 16, GiGi's Playhouse Hoffman Estates will celebrate 13 years of providing life-changing programs and inspiring families. It's an afternoon of family fun, including a red carpet walk for those featured in the GiGi's Playhouse 2017 calendar, inflatables, raffles, pumpkin painting, awards, music and food. The free event takes place from 12 to 3 p.m. at GiGi's Playhouse Hoffman Estates, 2350 W. Higgins. Rd. GiGiFest celebrates Down syndrome Acceptance Month and the opening of the first GiGi's Playhouse in Hoffman Estaten in 2003. GiGi's Playhouse has experienced tremendous growth since then and now has 31 locations in the U.S. and Mexico, serving 26,000 people.

On Saturday, Oct. 15, GiGi's Playhouse Chicago will co-host, along with El Valor, Chicago's first disabilities resource fair for Spanish-speaking families. The Abilities Expo, or Habilidades, will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, 2012 W. Ogden Ave. Admission and parking are free. Exhibitors include Chicago Park District, Special Olympics, Chicago YWCA, the Illinois and Chicago Departments of Health, Misericordia, the Chicago Public Library and many more. For more information, visit

These are just two of many October events that international nonprofit GiGi's Playhouse Down syndrome Achievement Centers have planned to commemorate Down syndrome Acceptance Month. As part of the effort, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has issued a proclamation to declare support for the monthlong observation and to help change the way the world sees Down syndrome. Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod also has issued a proclamation, and he will share it at GiGiFest.

GiGi's Playhouses nationwide are engaging in campaigns to have similar resolutions in their communities. The organization also is working with all of its locations to plan and promote events throughout October that inspire people to embrace the GiGi's Playhouse mission of acceptance for all. GiGi's Playhouse, which provides free therapeutic and educational programs, has experienced unprecedented expansion. Each month, 250 families are added, resulting in consistent monthly growth of 16 percent across the network, according to GiGi's Playhouse founder Nancy Gianni, who has been named a CNN Hero for 2016.

GiGi's Playhouse is the only international network of Down syndrome achievement centers, with free programs for all ages. The organization targets the underserved population of more than 450,000 Americans living with Down syndrome and makes a lifetime commitment to support and empower families from diagnosis to adulthood. GiGi's Playhouse also works to break down barriers and change the way the world sees people who are different, by promoting acceptance for all through the #GenerationG campaign. The goal is to have a GiGi's Playhouse in every state by 2021. The organization's national recognition is growing, with founder Nancy Gianni being named a 2016 CNN Hero. GiGi's Playhouse survives completely on donor funds and is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization. For more information about how you can help, visit

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