As soon as it was confirmed that I had been accepted on to the Dreams Take Flight team - as one of their Photographers for Disneyland - I hunted high and low for my Donald Duck.
Donald Duck has always been my favourite - and I think it’s because I could mimic his voice (or at least I thought I could) - but I tried before I arrived at Disney and I can no longer do it . . . I just sound like a dying duck instead!
It was at exactly the same time that we had moved - so I was going through every box anyway - but I could not find my Donald Duck!
I did however find a letter from my little friend - thanking us for her treasure chest and Donald Duck - so clearly I thought she needed it more than me!
Anyway - I continued going through boxes - including my hubby’s childhood toys - and found his Donald Duck - this little guy!
Dreams Take Flight is a Canadian charity run through Air Canada.
They fly underprivileged kids to Disneyland for the day - and give them this amazing experience!
Even though I no longer photograph children and families - I felt honoured that I had been asked to be a part of this - and was super EXCITED to hang out with these kids for the day - and experience ‘the land of dreams’ with them.
One of my favourite sounds is children's laughter - or any laughter - I just love hearing happiness - and I knew there would just be a ton of it on this day!
Some of these youngsters are sick - have certain disabilities - or are just generally troubled from a bad or abusive upbringing.
Some are unsociable - in a world of their own - easily distracted - obnoxious and ignorant - or lacking in confidence.
Some have never been away from home - or away from their parents.
But somehow - every single one of them were able to leave their troubles in Canada - and had the time of their life!
You could see the transformation throughout the day . . .
They gained new friends with the other children - and the adults.
They gained confidence.
They appreciated what they were experiencing.
They were happy!
Some of the volunteers had been back every year for the past 10 - 15 - 20 years - and had seen this growth in every child.
A couple of instances really stuck in their mind - which they shared with me - and one in particular was a girl who was prostituted out at the age of eleven or so.
She went to Disneyland - surrounded by people of her own age - and adults that didn’t expect anything from her.
She went home - and stood up to her drug-addict mother who was putting her through all this abuse - and was able to walk away from the environment she lived in.
She was able to find confidence and change her life because of her ONE day at Disneyland!
It just really made me think about the lives these kids lead - and the thoughts - decisions - and stress they go through day to day.
And then I think of how they are able to change their lives around in ONE day - or at least make a start - because of one invigorating experience.
And if these kids are able to do that - so can we?!
Maybe money is a little tight for a trip to Disneyland - or even a vacation - but there are other wonderful experiences and opportunities that can make us escape from our troubles and stress - even if it’s for an hour.