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Kids with Down syndrome show off smiles in storefront 'welcome windows' at GiGi's Playhouse in Tampa

"They deserve to have the same opportunities"
Posted at 1:37 AM, Sep 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-04 09:45:10-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Maisy Kiefer is a 5-year-old superstar.

You can often find the smiley young lady playing inside Gigi's Playhouse, a joyful nonprofit supporting the Tampa Bay area's Down syndrome community.

Maisy can also be found outside GiGi's in a new storefront window display. There she is, modeling a checkered purple dress and strumming a guitar.

They call them "Welcome Windows."

"It's a blessing for her that she can see that she's represented and that she matters," says Michelle Kiefer, Maisy's mother.

Michelle has nine children; eight of whom, like Maisy, are adopted.

Posing next to Maisy in another "Welcome Window" is her buddy Jaxson Tune.

He also embraced his inner model. You can tell there was a lot of hamming it up going on during the day of the photoshoot.

Jaxson's mother Brandy says the gorgeous portraits outside GiGi's let her son know that this "is a safe place."

The "Welcome Windows" were just revealed in a big ceremony celebrating inclusion and acceptance.

The powerful message? Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.

"These kids deserve to have the same opportunities as other children," says GiGi's outreach coordinator Nicki Rawlings, who took the gorgeous portraits in the windows.

GiGi's relies on volunteers and donations to survive. The welcome windows are a big fundraiser for the nonprofit.

Maisy's father Steve Kiefer is just happy the rest of the world will get a glimpse of the fabulous force of nature that is his daughter.

"She just brings so much joy and love to us," Steve says. "It's immeasurable."