First Friends Across Nations Playgroup

 

Our first ever Friends Across Nations (FAN) Playgroup kicked off on September 18th.  The kids got to enjoy a Teddy Bear Picnic, and thanks to generous donations from members of Love and Lift, Inc., each child was able to take home their very own teddy bear.  It warmed my heart to see the kids faces light up as they played with their teddy bears during our “picnic” and then have a dance party with their bears.  It was wonderful to see moms from different backgrounds jump right into conversations, and be able to connect while sharing in the joy of seeing our kids have fun together.  It was a beautiful day, and I look forward to the friendships that will begin to blossom as our first session continues into the coming months.

-Hilary (FAN Playgroup Leader)

Musical Playdate at Gigi’s Playhouse #2

We enjoyed our second playdate at Gigi’s Playhouse. Thank you so much to Ms. Kristen from Music Together North Shore and Gigi’s Playhouse Milwaukee for helping this event happen. As a reminder, Gigi’s is an open resource and play space for ALL families and they welcome you to visit anytime. 

Can’t wait to see where we go next with our new Gigi’s friendship!

Musical Playdate at Gigi’s Playhouse

Our visit to Gigi’s Playhouse Milwaukee was serendipitous. Several families from Toddlers and Kids on a Mission have visited Gigi’s Playhouse Milwaukee or made friends who visit there frequently. Through conversations about how wonderful the facility is, our board decided to explore a possible event there. Our friend (and now Advisory Board member) Kristen, is a Music Together teacher also was independently exploring possibilities with Gigi’s. When we discovered all our connections to Gigi’s, we knew we had to do something!

On Gigi’s Playhouse Milwaukee (from their website):

GiGi’s Playhouse is a one-of-a-kind achievement center for individuals with Down syndrome, their families, and the community. GiGi’s Playhouse offers more than 30 therapeutic and educational programs that advance literacy, math skills, motor skills and more; all of which are free of charge.

Programs are created by professional therapists and teachers who generously donate their time and expertise. All programs are based on best practices for learning styles specific to Down syndrome, and customized to ensure individual success. GiGi’s Playhouse serves infants through adults. GiGi’s Playhouse is headquartered in Hoffman Estates, IL; with 22 locations throughout the United States and Mexico, with more opening soon.

GiGi’s Playhouse makes a difference every day. Our unique points of difference empower individuals and their parents to achieve their greatest potential with confidence, independence, and joy. We have a “place”: we will never let location be a barrier to success. We have “programs”: we will never let curriculum be a boundary to achievement. Most importantly, programs are free. We will never let cost deter our families from participation or impede the achievement of our children and adults.

I mean.  How can you not be inspired and lifted by that?

On Saturday, new friends met, families found a new community resource, and we all joined in song and dance facilitated by the very talented Ms. Kristen from Music Together North Shore. We will return on March 11 for another Musical Playdate and beyond that, we look forward to many more collaborations.  In the meantime, we would like to pass on the open invitation from Gigi’s: All are welcome to stop in and play anytime. 

 

MLK National Day of Service Project: On the Go Bags

Our MLK National Day of Service project was BIG in so many ways. Over forty families participated, we partnered with The HELP Project, we made 200 bags to donate to our Milwaukee homeless neighbors, and we met so many new people!

Children are born for this kind of work. They are naturally compassionate and showed us that so beautifully on this day. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. declared: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” And this event was one way to answer that question.  Families worked and laughed together to alleviate, for a short while, the suffering of others.

Thank you to Kim from Mr. Bob’s Under the Bridge, Sarah and Brooke from The HELP Project, Fox6 News (special shout out to Deandra who entertained little Annie), North Shore NOW’s photographer Mary, the teen volunteers from Carmen High School, our parents/nannies/aunts/uncles/grandparents, and especially to our young helpers. You made our hearts feel HUGE on that icy Monday morning!

For more information on Mr. Bob’s Under the Bridge please click here.

If you would like to continue to make On the Go Bags, please click here for our packing list and talking points for children.

If you would like to organize an On the Go Bag Pack for your organization, please contact us and we would be happy to let you know how we got it done!

Beginning the new year with our Saint John’s Playgroup

A new year, a new session, new faces, new friendships and many, many laughs and smiles. THAT is how our new year has begun at Saint John’s on the Lake.  Our playgroup has soared to places we never dreamed of, going strong for 15 months! 

When I hear quotes from the residents at Saint John’s like “A laugh is worth a million words” or “That boy with all the energy right there, he needs TWO mom’s” my heart can’t help but just melt.  Quotes like these show us that the residents are engaged, they are participating and simply benefiting from our young, lively and spirited kids!

When our TOAM children ask me if specific Saint John’s members “will be here today” or when I see our children physically help “decorate” our resident friends with beads and hats and blowers {for a new year’s countdown and celebration} we know that this very unique playgroup is better than ever.

This partnership is a two way street, both parties benefiting tremendously from the time spent together.  Although our children are young now, I know over time, the lessons they learn from these cross generational experiences will be used in their young adult future and partnership building endeavors!!