What... (i.e. camp, dance class, birthday party)
        
 
Pick a NYMetroParents Region: All Regions   Manhattan    Brooklyn    Queens    Westchester    Rockland   Fairfield    Nassau    Suffolk  

Resources

   

HOMEGROWN HEROES: SINGING AND SIGNING FOR GOOD

     Home  >  Articles  > Support & Inspiration: Special Needs
by Melanie Baker March 27, 2013

Related: gigi's playhouse nyc, volunteer in nyc, volunteer with kids with down syndrome,


Professional opera singer Sabrina Francis volunteers her time and talent at Gigi's Playhouse NYC in upper Manhattan to inspire children with Down syndrome through music and sign language.

Gigi's Playhouse NYC
Sabrina Francis engages with kids during a class at Gigi’s Playhouse NYC.

Sabrina Francis was born to entertain. She harnesses her vocal chords as a trained opera singer and performs notably with the City Opera and the American Spiritual Ensemble. Her talents, however, span far beyond the opera stage and are making a remarkable impact at Gigi’s Playhouse NYC, a community center for children with Down syndrome and their families that offers programs, classes, and support, all gratis and all tailored to the center’s visitors.

Francis volunteered to teach music and movement, combining her love of performance and more than 15 years of experience in early childhood education and special ed in hopes of bringing joy through learning to the children at Gigi’s Playhouse.

GET INVOLVED!
• The music and movement class is just one of many free programs and resources at Gigi’s Playhouse designed to connect and empower those impacted by Down syndrome in the New York City area.

Gigi’s Playhouse NYC is located at 106 W. 117th St. For more information, including how to volunteer, call 646-801-7529 or visit gigisplayhouse.org/newyork.

 

LEARN HOW TO SIGN
• To access free signing videos from Signing Time or find a certified ASL
instructor near you, go to signingtimeacademy.com.


“Initially it started as a traditional music and movement class,” Francis recalls. “I used percussive instruments, pantomime, jumping, running, and walking. Everything is based on social interaction as well as language.”

Francis was encouraged by the positive response she saw from the children and their families, but also understood the more unique challenges of the less verbal or non-speaking children who were participating. She took on the task of incorporating sign language into her class, recognizing that children with Down syndrome respond strongly to physicality.

After getting certified to teach American Sign Language to babies via Signing Time Academy and weaving ASL into her classes at Gigi’s, Francis began seeing impressive results right away. “Babies can pick it up so quickly and parents are really encouraged,” Francis says of sign language.

While progress and results are meaningful, Francis is much more encouraged by the smiles and energy the children radiate during her classes. “I feel like I get more out of it than I give,” she says. “I love seeing the children’s excitement when they learn something, or when quiet children are suddenly not afraid to dance, aggressive children learn to calm down, and others learn to socialize.”




Get Your FREE Indoor Activity eGuide!

More Support & Inspiration: Special Needs Articles

Teach Your Child Coping Strategies Now for a Smooth Transition into Adulthood Later
How One Mother Learned to Find Balance and Joy
Yes, You and Your Child with Special Needs Can...
Children with Special Needs Can Learn to Play Piano
How to Plan a Bar or Bat Mitzvah for a Child with Special Needs

Be a good fellow parent and share this with a friend who would be interested
Email Friend

Local Support & Inspiration: Special Needs Sponsors

Dwight School
291 Central Park West
New York, NY
212-724-6360
Dwight School, an internationally renowned indepen...

Tribeca Learning Center (TLC)
21 Saint John's Lane
New York, NY
718-812-1910
TLC- Is Tribeca's best enrichment center for stude...

Active Kidz Long Island
200 Robbins Lane
Jericho, NY
516- 621-6600
Active Kidz is the place for kids to get healthy w...

Sherkow Center (The)
9 E. 93rd St.
New York, NY
212-722-0090
Mission The Sherkow Center provides resources f...

New York City Chess Inc.
234 Thompson St
New York, NY
212-475-8130
...
See Our Support & Inspiration: Special Needs Directory

local zones

Nassau

Nassau cont.

Suffolk

Suffolk cont.

Westchester

Westchester cont.

Fairfield

Rockland

Rockland cont.

Queens

Queens cont.

Brooklyn

Brooklyn cont.

Manhattan

Copyright 2014 NY Metro Parents Magazine Site Design: THE VOICE