'Best day ever,' 350 foster children reunite with siblings for a special visit to Disneyland
Disneyland, the happiest place on earth, was the chosen location to reunite 350 siblings that were separated in the foster care system. The event was organized by Together We Rise, a non-profit organization that looks to improve the experience of children in foster care.
Last weekend, 350 kids had a magical day after they reunited with their biological siblings to enjoy a day filled with fun and joy at Disneyland.
Together We Rise created the program “Disney Days” to help children in the system connect with their siblings after being separated into different foster homes. The kids not only get to spend an entire day bonding with their brothers and sisters, but they do it while enjoying the various attractions at the park, basking in the happiness of just being kids.
The program includes souvenirs, lunch, dinner, snacks and other treats for the kids— all free of charge for them. All of that is possible thanks to the donations the organization gets months ahead of the event.
The kids ride the attractions, bond with their siblings, get souvenirs and eat lunch, dinner and treats, all free of charge. https://t.co/kVer2hn1xL— WMBB News 13 (@WMBBTV) September 27, 2018
“The goal is to help them create positive childhood memories with their siblings and allow them one weekend to simply enjoy being kids,” donor relations manager Steven Macias said to Good Morning America.
The kids consider the event the “best day ever,” according to Macias.
As for how do they choose the kids that attend the event, the website of the organization says they work closely with local foster agencies to locate all the kids and their siblings and extend the invitation to the foster parents.
FOX NEWS: Disneyland welcomes 350 children in foster care to reunite with siblings pic.twitter.com/uOmgJ6Uheb— Latest News (@LatestNews456) October 2, 2018
EVERYONE CAN HELP
Volunteers who joined the Together We Rise team got to help in organizing lunch and snacks or lead groups of six children around the park. The organization also counted with the presence of volunteering photographers and videographers to document the day following the kids around while they explored the park.
Macias thanked the support of all the people involved saying:
“We couldn't make our Disney Days event happen without the support of our committed donors, volunteers, and sponsors. Reuniting 350 kids in foster care at the Happiest Place on Earth is no easy feat, so we rely on the support of our donors and volunteers to help make the magic happen.”
The event’s sponsors included Cooley, Ticket to Dream Foundation, All the Feels, H & L Charter, Sage, Capital Group and Iron Mountain.
Some of the volunteers took to social media to share their experience with the kids. Daisy Mae, who says she grew up in foster care and knows how hard the experience can be for children, applauded the initiative saying:
“Going into foster care is a very traumatic experience, I know because I was a foster child. Bravo to all of these people who are bringing joy and hope to these amazing kids by reuniting them, even if it’s just for the day!!”
Today was a really good day, because of a friend I got to volunteer with Together We Rise and see some foster children reunite with siblings in foster care but a different foster home than they are and share a day at DISNEYLAND. It was definitely a sight to see everyone happy 🤪— Storm (@IvyBrea) September 23, 2018
Going into foster care is a very traumatic experience, I know because I was a foster child. Bravo to all of these people who are bringing joy and hope to these amazing kids by reuniting them, even if it’s just for the day!!— Daisy Mae (@SwopeDiana) September 27, 2018
ADOPTION AND FOSTER CARE
According to Together We Rise, every day 1200 kids enter the foster care system in the U.S, and most of them are waiting to be adopted. However, the rates of adoption are not that high.
But when it does happen, a foster family can change the life of their kid forever, just like Paige Zezulka and her husband did for little Ivey and her siblings.
A viral Facebook video of the 11-year-old finding out she was being adopted on her birthday melted hearts all over social media. “She's been living with a question mark of what will happen. We love her birth family, and she loves them too, but it became [that] with us was where she wanted to be,” Paige told GMA.