The Impact of a Dream Come True on Mental Health

Many of the children across Canada who are impacted by Sunshine’s dream programs live with multiple diagnoses, some of which may fall under the umbrella of mental health. Anxiety and depression are common amongst our Sunshine Dreamers. Dealing with the realities of their conditions, whether it be a severe physical disability or life-threatening illness, while transitioning through childhood and adolescence can be overwhelming at times, for both a child and their family.

For The Sunshine Foundation of Canada, experiencing a dream come true is not just a fun day or a family vacation; it is a much needed opportunity to provide children with positive experiences and happy memories that they can use as part of their toolbox for developing into healthy and happy adults. Both Sunshine Dream Programs focus on igniting a newfound sense of freedom, independence, courage, and hope. It is this focus that is at the core of what we do, our reward being the trust that Sunshine Dreamers and their families put in us to make these special dreams come true. 

Ten-year-old Genevieve from Prince George, BC, who lives with juvenile arthritis and a vision condition, wasn’t sure that she would be able to handle being on the Sunshine DreamLift from Kelowna to Disneyland in 2015. Her severe anxiety caused her to be apprehensive of the idea of being on a plane filled with people she didn’t know, away from her parents and outside of her comfort zone.

Being approved to participate in the program had an immediate impact on Genevieve, replacing some of her anxiety with excitement. Her Mom and Dad cried when they saw her reaction to receiving her approval letter. “We just can’t express what it means to have our kid’s face light up for something – it shouldn’t be so rare!”

On Sunshine DreamLift day, Genevieve packed enough confidence to share with her new friends. When she got home, she couldn’t stop talking about her day at Disney and how it grew her self-confidence and the belief in her ability to do anything, sharing, “I faced my fears and had fun. And I’m going to have to do that all the time!”

Sunshine is abundantly proud and extremely grateful to be able to provide children like Genevieve with these life-changing experiences.

“The medical community saved my life, my Sunshine Dream coming true saved my soul.” – Sarah Lashbrook, Sunshine Alumnae

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