UE Charity Spotlight: GiGi’s Playhouse

 

For nearly 15 years, GiGi’s Playhouse has risen as an invaluable resource for individuals with Down syndrome, their families, and the community at large. The initiative offers a variety of programs aimed at educational activities, therapeutic sessions, and career building seminars — all free of charge. This impressive display of selflessness has allowed the Playhouse to serve over 40,000 individuals daily.

UE.co recently announced its Champion-Level sponsorship of the San Diego Donut Run (set for May 20, 2018), the proceeds of which will benefit GiGi’s Playhouse of San Diego. We are proud to work alongside such an esteemed company, which has enjoyed a rich history of progressive community outreach — both in San Diego and abroad.

 

A Vision of Change

GiGi’s Playhouse was founded in 2003 by Nancy Gianni, following the birth of Gianni’s daughter, GiGi. Just hours after GiGi was born, doctors determined that she had Down syndrome. From this moment on, Gianni grew weary of the enduring negative connotations surrounding Down syndrome, and she quickly became determined to end unfounded stereotypes and boost the self-esteem of those living with the condition.

Following a trip to a support group meeting, Gianni’s plan became clear: she would create a place where kids and adults with Down syndrome could connect, hone crucial life skills, and ultimately celebrate their diagnosis as a gift — not a flaw. This vision came to fruition following a period of fundraising enacted by Gianni and her husband. The first GiGi’s playhouse center opened its doors just months later, setting in motion a full-fledged movement of objective, compassionate outreach to those who may need it.

 

An Unstoppable Ascent

Today, GiGi’s Playhouse occupies 37 locations spanning the United States and Mexico — with 200 inquiries to begin additional locations in other parts of the world. The company’s Generation G Campaign for global acceptance gives participating families the opportunity to foster lasting acceptance through daily activity and social engagement, which subsequently gives their loved ones with Down syndrome the confidence to take on new responsibilities, forge new relationships, and most importantly embrace and enjoy life just like anyone else. The company’s San Diego location is no different — in fact, the city recently proclaimed April 7th 2018 as GiGi’s Playhouse Day.

Join us at the San Diego Donut Run! For more information on the run, and Gigi’s Playhouse as a whole, visit https://gigisplayhouse.org/sandiego/san-diego-donut-run/.

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UE Charity Spotlight: Special Olympics

As the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, the Special Olympics’ contributions to athletics are both vital and far-reaching. The organization provides year-round training and competition opportunities to its athletes, who span 170 countries nationwide.

We at UE.co are excited to be supporting the Olympics’ San Diego branch as part of our ongoing charitable giving initiative. UE will serve as a Bronze-Level sponsor for the program’s next four sports seasons (a donation of $20,000), and our volunteers are ready to help program participants eliminate stigmas, find their athletic niches, and most importantly, build unforgettable memories.

With the organization’s 50th anniversary on the horizon, here is a quick look at its history of inclusiveness and empowerment.

Making a difference

The Special Olympics was founded in 1969 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a member of the Kennedy family. The program was originally named Camp Shriver and served as a modest day camp hosted at Shriver’s home in Potomac, Maryland. Shriver’s mission was simple, yet incredibly ambitious: provide intellectually disabled children the joy and fulfillment of athletic involvement. The camp became an annual event, and it eventually evolved into a full-fledged movement — with many colleges, community centers, and recreational departments obtaining grants to host similar events. In time, the “Camp Shriver” moniker was replaced with the “Special Olympics.”

Later, the first International Special Olympics event (1972) was held right here in Southern California. Competitions took place at UCLA and Santa Monica City College. These events helped establish a tradition of expanded Special Olympics activity in California, as the next two decades saw the inception of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for California Special Olympics and the division of the program into two state chapters: Southern California and Northern California.

Carrying on tradition

Today, the Special Olympics have only magnified the ideals they were founded upon. The organization’s reach officially expanded to over 4.4 million athletes in 2017 — with over 80,000 events being held annually. The Olympics’ Southern California branch alone houses over 32,000 athletes, a staggering number that is more than indicative of the program’s lasting resonance; it pledges to always put its athletes first while fostering a culture of “honesty, integrity, and mutual respect.”

These notions in mind, UE is honored to be a part of a storied and successful initiative, one with a proven track record of selflessness and compassion.

For more information on the San Diego Special Olympics, click here.

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