The other night we went to Gigi’s Playhouse.
It was teen night – young people with Down syndrome, 17 years old and up. They were getting together to hang out. We’ve done this before, met with groups, hoping for connections, hoping for more than a simulation of a night out with friends, hoping for friendship.
The space was bright and filled with, for lack of a better word, joy.
Karaoke, giant Jenga, healthy snacks, laughter, yoga, introductions.
Mazzy has very good friends.
However friendship independent of family, the cherished nights out with friends of her own – this is harder to find.
The first time I asked Mazzy what it was like to have Down syndrome we were driving down the freeway. She looked out of her window for a long time and then answered,
“It’s…it’s a little bit lonely.”
Since then we’ve been trying to alleviate that need and it is not simple.
When we arrived at Gigi’s my expectations were low.
I checked us in and Mazzy headed to the ping-pong table. There were old and new faces but more than any person there was a spirit that felt permanent.
A spirit that felt like this place was for us.
For Mazzy and her friends.
As I toured around the building I found myself fighting back tears.
I was trying to hold it together when my friend, Amy, said:
“We need this. We all need this so much.”
And she’s right.
She and others and I guess me too now, are working so that we have what we need.
So that Mazzy has enough experience with friendship that heading to Gigi’s playhouse becomes part of her vernacular, part of our lives.
Gigi’s Playhouse is having a one-of-a-kind fundraiser and I think I’m going to join them.
It seems they want to jump off a building.
If I raise $1000 I get to rappel down the First National Building in downtown Detroit. I’m planning to do that along with all the other brave souls who want to enable Gigi’s Playhouse to continue to offer free programming for people with Down syndrome.
Heading down 28 stories should be pretty thrilling – almost like the morning they put Mazzy in my arms – I’ll have no idea what I’m doing with my heart pounding out of my chest.
But I’m so glad that I’ve gotten to be on this adventure with her.
Want to join us?