GiGi’s EPIC Adult Program and Taziki’s Work Together

Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe has paired with GiGi’s Playhouse in a very special way. A new program called “EPIC” is for young adults with Down Syndrome to begin a six week training program that will allow these young people to hold gainful employment at the restaurant, if they so desire.

The founders of Taziki’s,Keith and Amy Richards, opened the first Taziki’s in Birmingham. Richards noticed a patron of the restaurant coming in to eat with her adult son, who had Downs Syndrome. He approached the mother asking if she ever got a break.

Richards then suggested giving the young man a job. What grew from this simple act of kindness is now known as the “HOPE” Project. Herbs Offering Personal Enrichment- offers jobs to young adults with Down Syndrome and the herbs they grow, are used at Taziki’s restaurants.

How did Richards passion spread to Middle Tennessee? It all began back in April of 2015  when Olivia Bane, Marketing Director with Taziki’s met Kelly Morgan, Assistant Site Coordinator, and Rita Moore, OTR/L at an event benefiting GiGi’s Playhouse Nashville.

IMG_0097Bane who has as much passion for what Keith Richards began in Birmingham struck up a conversation about Taziki’s passion for employing individuals with disabilities, sharing the story of the HOPE Project.

Moore,whose sister has Downs Syndrome, moved to middle Tennessee from Chicago and was looking to volunteer with GiGi’s. Moore and Morgan were in the process of developing the EPIC Adult Program and the fit between the two organizations, was perfect.

The program is free and the goal is to find motivated individuals who want to develop job skills and work for a passionate company, with passionate leaders who want to empower young adults with Downs Syndrome.

In their classes, the students are learning life skills and also skills that will be needed for working at the restaurant.

FullSizeRenderIn the EPIC (Empowerment, Participation, Independence, and Community Involvement) Adult Program, participants work on vocational, communication, and social skills to boost confidence and encourage independence. The program, led by Moore, meets weekly to provide opportunities for socialization and community involvement, while creating a fun and memorable experience for its participants. 

The program is recommended for ages twenty-one and older; registration will begin for the fall program in late July.

The new Taziki’s is opening in July at CityPark in Brentwood. After completing their studies, you may see graduates of the program working at the new location.

For additional information about GiGi’s Playhouse, or if you know someone who might like to participate in the program, click here.

About GiGi’s Playhouse: 

GiGi’s Playhouse Nashville provides free purposeful educational and therapeutic programs to individuals with Down syndrome from birth through adulthood, their families, and the community. GiGi’s Playhouse Nashville is committed to working tirelessly to change society’s outdated misconceptions about Down syndrome by showcasing and celebrating the great potential and many achievements of all individuals. Programs are created by professional therapists and teachers who generously donate their time and expertise. All programs are based on best practices for Down syndrome learning styles, and customized to ensure individual success. All of or programs are led by volunteers.

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