Give Kids The World is a non-profit organization that “provides weeklong, cost-free vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.” Through my school, I was lucky enough to be chosen to visit GKTW and volunteer at the village. I was able to meet so many warriors fighting countless battles and was so moved by their positivity and happiness. Each child I met greeted me with a huge smile on their face. GKTW truly gives them the trip of a lifetime and I was so honored to be a part of just some of the magical trips they have provided.
Give Kids the World partners with wish granting foundations to provide the children, who wish for a trip to the Orlando attractions, with a magical vacation. The families are provided with housing, transportation, theme park tickets, entertainment at the village, meals, and countless once in a lifetime memories.
The villages tries to provide the families with a whole year worth of activities during their week long visit. On Sundays, the families get to play real life Candy Land with a few of the village’s favorite characters. Mondays at the village are for celebrating Halloween at “Mayor Clayton’s Hare-Raising Halloween”, where families can play games and go trick-or-treating. On Tuesdays the families can join a few of the village’s favorite characters in throwing a surprise birthday party for Mayor Clayton. The Kids get to show off their favorite talents on Wednesdays at “Village Idol.” They celebrate the holiday season every Thursday at “Winter Wonderland,” which includes crafts, games, and a visit from Santa. Friday nights are saved for the “Once Upon A Village Party,” where the children get to live a real life fairytale with princesses, pirates, knights, and mermaids. I had the chance to work this party, and it was definitely my favorite shift. I got to paint the kid’s faces and transform them into mermaids. Since painting their faces took a little bit to do, I got to talk to the kids and really get to know them. I heard all about how their trip was going, what they’ve done so far, and I even learned that my new friend wanted to be a mermaid when she grew up (She wanted me to be one too but I’m not sure what colleges offer that program)! The village also gets visits from some of the kid’s favorite characters from Disney World and Universal throughout the week.
There are venues all over the village for the families to visit in their free time. My favorite is the “Castle of Miracles.” The ceiling of the castle is covered in thousands of stars belonging to the ‘wish children’ who have stayed in the village. Each child who stays gets a star to personalize, which is then place on the ceiling by the Star Fairy for the families to come back and see the next day. It is amazing to see how many children have been impacted by the village and all their hard work. While I was there, I also got the chance to visit “Amberville,” the “Ice Cream Palace,” the “Park of Dreams,” “Lori’s Magical Flight,” “Twinkle Hope’s La-Ti-Da Royal Spa,” and “Ol’ Elmer.” So much work, time, care, and love go into making this village run smoothly and it is incredible to see how many people play a part in making the families’ trips unforgettable.
I learned so much from this trip and it was such a life changing experience. I am so grateful to have been a part of some children’s magical trip and I hope to return very soon.
For more information on Give Kids the World visit: http://www.gktw.org/
For more information on how you can help visit: http://www.gktw.org/help/
To see a video recap of my trip visit: https://instagram.com/p/Be1Q9GMgJd5/