Food Truck Wednesdays have become a staple of summer at Gigi’s Playhouse on North Clinton Street in Fort Wayne. In an effort to expand Gigi’s career training program, Gigi’s Genesis Health Bar Ambassadors work side-by-side with food truck owners serving the public delicious food while learning invaluable career and social skills.
Executive Director of Gigi’s Playhouse, Holly Tonak says, “Our mission is to change the way the world views Down Syndrome and we’re not going to do that if we stay inside Gigi’s Playhouse.”
Instead Gigi’s Ambassadors are out in the parking lot, on the food trucks, serving up great food and interacting with the public gaining valuable skills.
After graduating from Gigi University’s 15-week training program, Ambassadors work at Gigi’s Genesis Health Bar which is located inside Gigi’s Playhouse at 6081 N Clinton Street in Fort Wayne. Tonak says Food Truck Wednesdays came about because they were looking for a way to build on the skills they mastered in the Health Bar. “We reached out to some local food truck owners and thought this is an amazing opportunity to use those same skill sets in a different setting, and they are just ROCKING IT!”
Ambassador Kristy Meeks says she loves working on Traveling Tom’s Coffee Truck. “My favorite part is serving drinks, and it’s awesome.” Haley Moore of Traveling Tom’s Coffee couldn’t be happier with the arrangement. “Kristy picks things up super quick and she’s great with the customers,” Moore smiles as she adds, “the best thing is when she would have a drink order come up, she would shout ‘order up’ and I loved it.”
Ambassador Cameron was working hard on the What the Fish Truck serving up crispy fish and tasty french fries to the happy customers. Angie Freiburger, of What the Fish just marvels when she watches him work the crowd with his charm and a smile. “Cameron does a wonderful job taking care of the customers, he’s Employee of the Month!”
Tonak says the overall theme of events like this is to show the public that people with Down Syndrome can do anything, it just may take them a little longer and a different way to do it. “People with Down Syndrome wear the diagnosis on their face, and they’re immediately identified as having different abilities.” Tonak says talking and interacting with them helps in more ways than one, “with Down Syndrome, they have a larger tongue than your typical person and a smaller mouth. I always say it’s a triple whammy to get those words formulated and articulated. So, every time you have a conversation and allow them the space to speak their mind and speak whatever they need to speak, you are helping them improve their speech because they are using those muscles. ” Tonak says communication is everything, “if you can clearly communicate your needs and dreams you’re able to live a more full life.”
The next Food Truck Wednesday is September 7th from 11a.m. – 2p.m. in the parking lot of Gigi’s Playhouse on North Clinton Street. Wicked Good Cupcakes, Goodies Trap House, Bravas, WTFish, and Whatcha Grindin’ food trucks will be there to serve up great food and help the cause. Why don’t you and your friends make plans to stop by to see why Food Truck Wednesdays are POSITIVELY FORT WAYNE.