I was given a unique opportunity to join with about 60 other bloggers to tour the site of Give Kids the World, and learn all about the amazing program they have there. Give Kids the World Village is a great charity that offers a chance for families with a child who has a life-threatening disease a week away. They work with Make -a-wish, and bring families in from all over the world. The families get a week at one of the homes, and complementary tickets to the local theme parks including Walt Disney World and Sea World
The GKTW Village has 70 acres of property which contain over 100 homes at this point where families stay. They are still growing and building more homes for the ongoing need of places to share with these families. Along with the homes, which are set up like duplexes, there are a variety of buildings with specific goals. There is so much to do at the Village, that even families who choose not to go to the theme parks can have a full day of entertainment right on property.
The Gingerbread House is where the families come and they can eat meals each day. The food is thanks to Perkins restaurant. There are volunteers from all over Central Florida who come in and help serve meals and talk with families about their experiences and see what the kids are excited about doing. My son volunteers with his youth group every 3 months and loves being a part of it.
One of my favorite buildings was the ice cream shop. They offer ice cream all day..and yes, the kids LOVE to have ice cream for breakfast. Just another way of living in the moment and not letting the stress of illness, hospitals and doctors be the focus for the week. Just looking at the amazing design of each building shows how important the kids are to GKTW.
Another favorite place for me was the life size candy land playground. I mean, who doesn't love the game Candyland? What a great concept for a children's playground. Since it was raining, I wasn't able to get out and take pictures of the actual park, but the entrance shows the style and thrill the kids must feel upon entering!
One of the more heart wrenching parts of the night was learning about the stars which cover the ceilings in the Castle of Miracles. Each time a new child visits the Village, they are given a golden star to write their name on. Then they are put up on the ceiling as a way for the child to always remember their week, and a way for the family to always remember their child. The picture is just a very small sample of the numerous stars that fill the "sky" in the Castle. What an amazing thing for the families. They even have a web cam view and website on which the families can "visit" their stars when they go home. Although it was sad to realize how many kids have to deal with life-threatening diseases, it was such an encouragement to see how many people Give Kids the World affects.
They offer Holiday days at GKTW every week. We were there on a Thursday which means it was Christmas in the Village. I have to admit, it put me in the Christmas mood! All the kids get a gift each day of the week, and this day was a Santa hat. There were Christmas Decorations up all over and a parade and party in the evening.
I loved the Santa, but also the life sized popcorn(not up for Christmas, but a great every day addition). The characters in the picture on the right are part of the Christmas celebration party. Lots of dancing,games and fun!
I was part of a small group that had the opportunity to check out one of the villas (the homes where families stay). They are wonderfully set up, decorated and have everything the family needs. When they arrive, the children are met with gifts welcoming them. The gifts are wonderful, from stuffed animals to books and other great things which will be great reminders of the week.
Disclosure: I was a part of a blogging bash created to share about Give Kids the World and bring knowledge to people for support. I did not receive any compensation for my review.