Disney. Just the word evokes images of princesses, pirates, castles, pixie dust, and enchantment.
For an abused, abandoned, or neglected child who has played with a Mickey stuffed animal, watched Disney movies and read pirates and princess stories, the world of Disney is seen from a distance. The children we serve don’t dream of visiting Disney World, because that dream is too far from reality. Or is it?
Are there people in the world who think that foster care children should not just survive, but thrive? That abused and neglected children can have hopes and dreams like other children? This is the first for an organization like ours, in Broward County, to take children on a one-day trip to the Magic Kingdom. This may be the only time in their lives these children will go on a magical adventure to Disney World.
We would like to thank the generous foundation that believes, as we do, that magical experiences that lift the hearts and souls of the children are just as important as physical needs. That helping build their emotional strength and self-esteem will help them embrace the world, explore the world, blossom, and flourish.
On Saturday February 16th, Voices was able to take a one-day excursion to the happiest place on earth and make this dream come true for 25 children and volunteer child advocates. The Magic Kingdom at Disney World welcomed our group for a day of fun and excitement beyond their wildest dreams. The children were split into three groups by ages and enjoyed parades, rides, a visit with princesses, a delicious dinner with Winnie the Pooh and his friends, and the Happily Ever After fireworks show.
For a 5-year old child who has never been on an amusement park ride, a flying elephant can be intimidating. But the nervous look on the face of Melissa turned to excitement as she begged to make Dumbo fly higher! The same child proved she was no longer afraid when she got off the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and proudly said “I wasn’t afraid of the pirates!” Or when James met Cinderella and asked if he could live with her to be her new prince to protect her. This beautiful boy with the beautiful soul is a prince to us. Despite his past trauma, the light in his heart, his bigger-than-life personality, and a little assistance from caring people can help him to conquer the dragons in his world. Bold, proud, brave. Those are words we like to use when we describe the children we serve.
With help from Voices for Children of Broward County, the Guardian ad Litem Program and generous donors, services and experiences can be provided to build our children up, broaden their horizons, and provide a lifetime of memories. A hug from Mickey Mouse or Winnie the Pooh can bring smiles that help heal scars. In our eyes, this day was a day of Disney therapy. A day that lifted the hearts of the children and taught them that fairy tales and dreams really can come true.
“Fairy tales are more than true: Not because they tell us that dragons exist but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” – Neil Gaiman