GiGi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Centers has launched GiGi’s Step to Accept Challenge, a virtual run-walk-ride designed to send a message of acceptance across the world. On Sat., Jun. 6, teams from 60 GiGi’s Playhouse locations and startups nationwide will take to the streets, parks, bike trails and basement treadmills, set on amassing 7 million “steps to accept,” enough steps to span the entire United States. GiGi's Playhouse

The challenge invites supporters of acceptance, in all its forms, to join the effort by signing up online to begin logging their steps.

“This goes beyond individuals with Down syndrome,” said Nancy Gianni, founder and Chief Belief Officer of GiGi’s. “We’ve been fighting for acceptance since we first conceived GiGi’s Playhouse in 2002 and we aren’t alone in that struggle. Every step matters because every life matters, which is why our initial goal is 7 million steps, but we would love to hit 50 million steps which is the amount of steps to walk around the world spreading our message of acceptance.”

Funds raised through GiGi’s Step to Accept Challenge will enable the not-for-profit to continue its mission of providing free life-changing therapeutic and educational programming, including GiGi’s at Home Virtual Programming, for more than 25,000 individuals with Down syndrome. Launched within days of the devastating closure of 48 GiGi’s Playhouse locations nationwide, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GiGi’s at Home, an essential service for families at home dealing with a 24/7 diagnosis, currently offers 28 national and more than 100 local chapter live programs every week, along with more than 150 On Demand videos.

GiGi's Playhouse

GiGi’s at Home content is targeted for ages infant through adult, addressing everything from one-on-one math and literacy tutoring to fitness (GiGiFIT), art, music, dance, cooking and social skills. In just five weeks, there’ve been more than 150,000 visits to the GiGi’s at Home website, with more than 300 new families signing up to participate in GiGi’s programming.

The culmination event of GiGi’s Step to Accept Challenge is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. CT on Sat., Jun. 6. Following warm-ups and inspirational remarks, step-off will take place at 11:15 a.m. Those interested in registering for the Step to Accept Challenge or making a donation, can visit StepToAccept.org. Teams and individual participants are welcome. Registration is $21 per adult and $10 for children 12 and under. Free access to Virtual Coaching and the Strava fitness tracking app for monitoring and recording steps is available through the website.

—Jennifer Swartvagher

All photos courtesy of GiGi’s Playhouse

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