Flight of dreams: 8 kids from N.L. off for whirlwind day at Disney World
Co-ordinator says it is a 'life-changing experience' for children and her
Eight children from Newfoundland and Labrador flew out for their dream vacation Tuesday — a whirlwind day at Disney World where they get to do whatever they want free of charge.
"So excited," said Grace Maluma, a student at Bishop Abraham Elementary in St. John's.
"She has been praying for it," said her mother, Clemence Maluma.
Grace and the other 10- to 12-year-olds are among 160 children from Atlantic Canada on this journey, thanks to Dreams Take Flight.
The non-profit program is run by volunteers, with sponsors that include Air Canada and various companies from retail stores to insurance firms.
"It's a life-changing experience … It changed me as well," said Penny Pearcey, a customer service representative with Air Canada who helps co-ordinate the program.
"We give them a day away from their life and it gives them a chance to see their potential … to be a child for a day and to escape the realities of the real world."
The children are recommended for the trip by their schools, or community groups such as the Boys and Girls Club or the provincial Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development.
They have "social, physical or economic challenges," Pearcey said. "We like to select a variety."
Pearcey said people become passionate about the program. One participant who returned to volunteer is now a nurse on this flight.
The children will leave Halifax at 5 a.m. Wednesday and fly to Orlando, where they will tour the Disney resort in groups of six.
"We spend the day doing what the kids want. It could mean riding Space Mountain four times, if that's what they want," Pearcey said. "We encourage them to go outside their comfort zone."
"I made so many new friends … it was just incredible," said Destiny Janes, who went on the trip six years ago.
Now, her brother Tyrone is going.
"I hope he has the best experience of his life because he deserves it."
It's Tyrone's first time on a plane. He's looking forward to Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain and the go-karts.
With files from Here & Now