Gigi's Playhouse, which operates over 50 centers nationwide, recently opened a facility in Roseville, California, where an employee coming in to work noticed some major vandalism. Board President Nicole Harrigan tells One News Now pictures of young people with Down syndrome were defaced, and hateful messages were left behind. Live Action News reports that police have called it a hate crime.
"Some of it was about zombies, and we don't really know what that was about, but one of them did have some slurs using the R-word -- you know that word that we don't like to use for people with disabilities -- and insinuating that Down syndrome is caused by incest," Harrigan reports. "It was just horrifying."
But when word got out about it, the community rushed to the center's aid, and the response has stretched outside Roseville's borders.
"We've had an outpouring of support from the community, and really from across the nation," Harrigan shares. "We've had all kinds of donations and just an outpouring of support and love and messages coming from as far as Massachusetts and New York and North Carolina."
Gigi's Playhouse provides services to children with Down syndrome and also works with adults who have the extra chromosome, helping them develop their individual abilities and aiding them in finding jobs so they can support themselves.