Sunshine Foundation

Independence: The impact of a Sunshine Dream

Monday, July 11, 2016

Parents and guardians are natural decision makers for their children; from buying and cooking their meals, to picking out clothing. From birth, all kids are dependent on their parents, slowly learning life lessons and becoming more responsible and independent, flying farther and farther from the nest. But when a child is facing a serious healthcare challenge, whether that is a disability or an illness, opportunities to be independent can be limited.

Sunshine Children live with either severe physical disabilities or life-threatening illnesses (sometimes both) and are often more dependent on their caregivers than other children their age. They may require additional medical support such as changing dressings, feedings, being lifted out of wheelchairs, putting on their braces, administering medications, arranging transportation, and ensuring proper communication opportunities and assistive technologies are available.

When a Sunshine Child is given the opportunity to have his or her own dream come true, the possibilities laid out before them become infinite. Eyes are wide, minds are sparkling with ideas, and magic begins to take shape. Just being able to think and act for oneself plants the seed of his or her independence.

Kaydence Sunshine DreamWhen Kaydence dreamed of seeing the Disney Princesses, she had no idea the effect it would have on her. Choosing her dream trip and then learning it was truly possible to reach her goal of seeing Ariel, Anna and Elsa, motivated Kaydence to push the boundaries of what she thought were her limitations. Relying on her walker to get around, Kaydence would do anything to avoid using her canes. But after her Sunshine Dream walking around Disney and meeting princesses, Kaydence started using her canes without complaining and increased her walking distance on her own.

Some of our Sunshine Children also dream of their own adapted sports equipment so they can join in the fun with their friends and classmates. Aidan dreamed of his own adapted bicycle, customized to meet his needs and allowing him to explore walking trails alongside his family while working on his own physical therapy.  Some people may see just a bicycle, but to Aiden and his family it is so much more.  

A Sunshine DreamLift brings a day of independence and fun to over 70 dreamers at the same time. It’s a day away from medical regiments, appointments, and even their parents, experiencing what it’s like to “just being a kid” in a Disney theme park. From the minute the kids go through security at the airport, they get a sense that what it feels like to be away from Mom and Dad, (for some of them it’s for the first time ever!) able to make their own choices and make their own memories. Kids return with smiles on their faces, a can-do attitude, and a taste of independence that sparks the desire for growth.

Whether a Sunshine Child chooses his or her own customized dream, or experiences a day away from parents for a Sunshine DreamLift, independence is a significant result of a Sunshine Dream come true. As the mom of Sunshine Dreamer Sebastian explains, dreams are so powerful “because he can choose it, he is in control. It makes him feel important.”

You can help give independence to Sunshine Kids across Canada. Donate Today.