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Nugget Cover Club x Gigi's Playhouse logos

In 2020, we launched Cover Club as a way to support organizations near and dear to our hearts. The concept is simple: Nuggeteers enter a contest (purchasing as many entries as they like) to win Nuggety prizes, with 100% of the proceeds benefiting non-profit organizations doing life-changing, hugely important work. Since 2020, we’ve raised nearly $425,000 for six non-profit partners working in a variety of fields, from voting rights to Black maternal health.

Raffle tickets in different colors dividng the pageAnd we’re thrilled to kick off 2022 with Cover Club Volume 7 in partnership with GiGi’s Playhouse Raleigh, one of 55 playhouses across the U.S. Their mission is to change the way the world views Down syndrome; their programming focuses on free educational, therapeutic and career development programs for individuals with Down syndrome and their families. The Raleigh location opened its doors in 2016 and serves over 850 families from prenatal diagnosis to adulthood, running a custom, research-based curriculum that advances literacy, math skills, and gross and fine motor skills while building self-esteem and preparing individuals for the workforce. 

Child at Gigi's Playhouse Raleigh gazes up at camera; play tunnel is in the background.

All Are Welcome at GiGi’s Playhouse

There are over 450,000 individuals with Down syndrome in the U.S. Those diagnosed with Down syndrome often experience low muscle tone and cognitive delays that can affect how they approach everyday tasks – walking, talking, eating, reading – but these tasks are often within their grasp with the appropriate support. In fact, individuals with Down syndrome are included in classrooms with their peers, graduate from high school, attend college, live independently and are employed in their community! GiGi’s Playhouse provides the resources and programs to support the individual and their family through their lifetime. Two Gigi's Playhouse Raleigh participants smile at the camera and hold up their art projectsAt GiGi’s Playhouse Raleigh, families can access those needed interventions, all at zero cost. Programs on offer include one-on-one tutoring in literacy, math, and language skills to over 800 participants across NC, including a satellite campus in Fayetteville that serves military families. To bolster physical strength, there’s GiGiFit, which combines physical therapy with fitness, designed to address common issues for individuals with Down syndrome including hypotonia, joint laxity, and decreased balance. One favorite class is Ballet with Brooke, a regularly attended session for many GiGi participants!

An infant Gigi's Playhouse Raleigh participant sits in a play saucer and smiles wide at a caregiver, off camera.

A Lifetime of Support

In the U.S., individuals with Down syndrome encounter a lack of acceptance that limits or excludes them from opportunities, whether it’s through their school years or beyond into career opportunities. GiGi’s Playhouse Raleigh offers career-development and placement opportunities in the local community, focusing on the individual strengths of their participants and matching them with opportunities to succeed as hard working interns and employees. 

Child playing in a ball pit at Gigi's Playhouse Raleigh smiles at camera

GiGi’s Playhouse developed career and job coaching services to give adults – and their employers – the tools they need for a successful relationship, including targeted on-the-job coaching. Their experience exemplifies The Hiring Chain: “The more that people with Down syndrome are seen at work, the more they’ll be recognized as valuable employees, and the more they’ll be hired.” Indeed, GiGi’s Playhouse Raleigh has seen this in action, with a hiring chain spanning multiple local hires: Monteith Construction hired Noah, because Riley Contracting Group hired Sophie, because Dairy Queen hired Paul, because Ruckus Pizza hired Matthew! 

Matthew, Gigi's Playhouse Raleigh participant and Ruckus Pizza employee, holds a slice of pizza towards the camera.

An Exciting New Location

This year, GiGi’s Playhouse Raleigh is moving to a new location in downtown Cary, a neighboring town to Raleigh. It speaks to their relationship with the local community that the new location will be in the heart of Cary, alongside shops and restaurants – and in being there, GiGi’s Playhouse Raleigh hopes to foster more acceptance and awareness to their community. The funds raised during Cover Club will support GiGi’s programming and expansion into their new space, as seen below! 

A design rendering of the new Gigi's Playhouse Raleigh facility.

Those with Down syndrome are hardworking, loved and capable, and deserve to be seen as the beautifully unique individuals they are. This Disability Awareness Month, learn more about Down Syndrome and the incredible works of GiGi’s Playhouse through our blog and social media, and enter Cover Club Vol 7 March 10-15th!