Abused. Beaten. Neglected. Starved. Abandoned. Children living in fear. Children in need. Children placed into foster care. At any given day, there are over 450,000 children placed in foster care in the United States. Each of these children has suffered immeasurable hurt, unimaginative pain, and unspeakable horrors from those who were supposed to love them the most. To be sure, the life of a child in foster care has been one of great pain and tremendous suffering. More often than not, these children in care never truly recover from the emotional, physical, and psychological wounds that they suffer from. Furthermore, they are haunted daily by the various traumas they suffered before coming into care; never truly escaping from the horrors they have experienced, and never finding peace.
Play Therapy is a therapeutic technique designed to allow the traumatized child to better cope with their emotional stress or trauma through the expression of emotions and or play. This type of therapy allows children who do not have the verbal skills or language to express their thoughts and feelings. What better place than Walt Disney World than to take children from foster care so they can not only express their emotions, but to find ways to play at the same time. There are a number of ways we have found for children to engage in this form of therapy and begin to allow them to feel and express themselves. If you want to see your child come to life or come out of his or her shell, take them to a visit with one of their favorite Disney character.
Whether it is the music, the fireworks, the attractions, or the interactions with the many Disney characters, these experiences all come together to create a time of delight, wonder, and joy for all who experience it. For children who have suffered from the horrors of trauma, neglect, and abuse, this delight, wonder, and joy only aid in permitting a child to heal from their pain as only Disney can; something that cannot be done in the child’s everyday environment.
It is essential for children in foster care to find a way to leave behind their pain and trauma; to leave the horrors that they are faced with each morning they wake up. It is vital for children in care to find a way to get the therapy they so dearly need in order to face the future, and survive as an adult. Sadly, many of the children in foster care will never have these moments, and will never receive this therapy. Disney Therapy is our way to bring foster children the opportunity of a life time to escape their pain and traumas, and instead allow them to simply be a child, free from pain.
Quite simply, it is a chance for a child in pain to begin his or her happy life. It is a chance to heal.
For 5 magical days, children in foster care will be able to escape the trauma and anxieties that haunt them, as well as the stigma they face of being a child from foster care, and instead escape to a land of magic, where they can focus on simply being a child. Led by Dr. Kelly DeGarmo, these children will experience a trip of a lifetime, an opportunity to make life lasting memories, and a chance to find healing through play, through laughter, and through wonder. It is time for every child to have a happy childhood.
This non-profit program will be providing Disney Therapy for children in Foster Care. It will provide chaperoned trips to Walt Disney World for small groups of six children at a time that are currently in foster care homes. It will provide the full Disney experience to help children understand that there is life beyond their current situations with the hope that when the children have a happy childhood experience that the healing through other individual therapy is more likely to occur.
A Happy Childhood founders Dr. Kelly and John DeGarmo were featured on ABC's Good Morning, America for their work with children in foster care.
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