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amberville theme park in florida Amberville, a themed area of Give Kids The World VIllage in Central Florida, provides entertainment and memories for children diagnosed with life threatening illnesses. (Photo courtesy Susan Storey)

Give Kids The World

Theme park wishes fulfilled in Florida

By Topanga Sena | null null , null

Just a stone's throw from world-famous theme parks such as Disney World, Sea World, and Universal Studios is Give Kids The World Village. The vision of Henri Landwirth, the village gives children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses the opportunity to fulfill their wishes of visiting Florida's attractions.

"If a child has a wish to come to Florida, we make sure they come," said Susan Storey, Communications Director for Give Kids The World Village.

The village is also a great place for young people to volunteer.

"For our volunteers, we want to give them a place to share their special talents, to make new friends, and to help give hope to others who need it," Storey said.

Since it began in 1989, the non-profit organization has hosted more than 7,000 families each year from all 50 states and more than 70 different countries. The 70-acre storybook resort offers children and their families a cost-free, weeklong vacation.

A stay at the village includes accommodations in a villa, meals in The Gingerbread House, transportation for the entire family, theme park entrance fees, a variety of entertainment at the village, and much more. Different themed areas range from a carousel ride designed for children in wheelchairs to an interactive video game room.

"Our goal is that the children and their families have a happy week and happy memories to share," Storey told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

Each of the themed areas requires the assistance of several volunteers.

"It is good for everyone to give back by giving your time and sharing your talents with others," Storey said. "You get so much more in return."

Volunteers range from ages 12 and up with various talents and backgrounds. Students visit the village for weeklong projects. Former "wish" children return to volunteer. Various organizations, such as Girl Scout troops and church youth groups, have raised money for the organization.

"I feel privileged to volunteer at such a wonderful place," said Emily B., 15. "The children have made a difference for me."

Emily volunteers at the ice cream parlor located at the village and greets and directs new volunteers. She says she is inspired by the mission behind Give Kids The World.

"I love to share in the happiness that the children and families experience," Emily said.

To learn more about check out the Give Kids The World Village website.


KIDS MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Scholastic's newest team of Kid Reporters take a look at what young people around the country are doing to help out the less fortunate this holiday season in the Kids Make a Difference Special Report.

NEWS FOR KIDS, BY KIDS

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