Every child has a dream they wish would come true: an unusual activity they would like to do, meeting a character from a book or a movie they like or even work in their favorite professions at a young age… Wishing something that seems impossible is a staple of childhood, and nothing make a child happier than seeing these dreams become a fact in real life.
Even more so when children suffer health difficulties.
Emotionally supporting children who are facing severe illnesses is not an easy task. It entails detailed follow-up work to track the child’s progress throughout treatment, and relatives bear a heavy emotional load both when children’s health improves and when it does not.
One of the international organizations that best contributes to improving these children’s emotional state is Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Their mission is to “create WISHFUL THINKING among boys and girls who suffer rare illnesses, adding value to their daily lives through personal experiences that inspire hope, strength, and joy”.
Make-A-Wish International is present in more than 50 countries, has been recognized by the United Nations, and has received prizes in Spain from prestigious institutions such as the Fundación Botín or the Fundación Mutua Madrileña.
Since 2012, the Parques Reunidos Foundation works with Make-A-Wish Foundation to fulfill the wishes of children from around the country who want to meet the animals and characters present at the group’s parks. Both foundations share values such as the protection of childhood, the defense of a family environment as a key factor for a child’s development, and the support of children’s health. In addition, the group’s parks in the United States and France also carry out action in collaboration with Make-A-Wish Foundation every year.
It all begins when Make-A-Wish receives a request sent by a child, his or her parents, or the doctors who are treating him or her. Requests describe the child’s wish, why he or she wants to make it happen, why he or she is motivated to help in the process, etc.
When Make-A-Wish approves the request, it is time to start working and preparing the wish. The child’s entire entourage (family, doctors, Make-A-Wish members and volunteers, even the child’s room at home or at the hospital) is put at the service of the wish’s accomplishment and lifts up the spirits of the child, giving him strength to fight the illness. Timing is key, because doctors coordinate wishes with the time of the treatment that is most convenient to encourage the child to keep fighting.
That’s when we come in. Make-A-Wish sends requests to the Parques Reunidos Foundation with information about the child who has contacted them that explains the details of his or her wish. The Parques Reunidos Spirit is a key to our process, because it engages our parks and their employees, who work around the clock to turn Make-A-Wish requests into reality as soon as possible.
Since the start of our collaboration in 2012, we have carried out nine quite varied wishes. Make-A-Wish guests have met famous characters like SpongeBob Squarepants, Dora the Explorer, Paw Patrol, Superman or Matman. Others have experienced a very special visit to the Zoo, during which they because animal caretakers for an day, and had the chance to learn from experienced biologists and veterinarians, who shared their knowledge of their favorite animals.