KIDS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN
By Ann Evans
KidsOut, the charity devoted to bringing fun and happiness into the lives of disadvantaged children celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
In partnership with Rotary, KidsOut takes up to 25,000 disadvantaged children on a day out to attractions across the UK and this year Drayton Manor once again gave these underprivileged youngsters a magical Christmas to remember.
December 1st saw the Staffordshire theme park welcoming nearly 4,000 young people including carers, guardians and teachers from across the Midlands to share in the festive spirit. The day gave underprivileged, disabled and special needs children a free and fun-filled day out and was organised in partnership with the charity and Rotary International District 1060.
KidsOut charity provides enjoyable and positive experiences for children throughout the UK who are living in economic hardship, refuge or with other acute disadvantages. Since 1989, Drayton Manor Theme Park has held an annual KidsOut event each summer, welcoming in excess of 32,000 children plus guests. Following the success of this, the family owned attraction decided to run the day over the festive period too, and this is now the second year running that Drayton Manor has invited KidsOut to its Magical Christmas event.
The first Rotary KidsOut Day was back in June 1990. It was organised by Kingston Rotary Club and Littlewoods organisation. The event proved so successful that it soon spread throughout the UK. These days every June, the Rotary Organisation throughout Britain and Ireland together with KidsOut take over 25,000 disadvantaged children on a great big day out. The children visit the seaside, theme parks, adventure playgrounds and zoos giving them all wonderful memories to cherish for a lifetime.
Providing days out is not all they do. They explain that on average each year over 20,000 children flee domestic violence and seek sanctuary in a Women’s Aid Refuge. The charity provides new toys and a fun day out for the children, most of whom arrive at the Refuge with nothing other than the clothes on their back.
They add that when these children are eventually relocated to a new home probably in an unfamiliar area, KidsOut provides them with a box of brand new toys to help bring stability and fun into their lives when they need it most.
Other initiatives provided by KidsOut include Phyzzpod and World Stories. Their Phyzzpod programme is especially for those with learning and physical disabilities. KidsOut believe that all children can benefit from sensory learning and play. Phyzzpod is named after their unique sensory tent and is designed to support the use of multi-sensory environments for creative exploration and learning.
World Stories is an online resource of over 100 stories in both their original language and in English, in written and audio format. One in seven children in the UK speaks English as their second language. The stories help children improve their literacy skills and learn about other cultures.
Children going along to Drayton Manor earlier this month experienced a real winter wonderland. Thomas Land™ was draped in Christmas cheer with decorations, festive music, fairy lights and a snow shower three times a day, providing them with the experience of what could have been their first ever white Christmas.
They also paid a visit to the enchanted Castle of Dreams, where they were greeted by playful elves before being taken to see Father Christmas. Each child who visited Santa received a free gift and a golden ticket to return for the new season in 2016.
Colin Bryan, CEO at Drayton Manor Theme Park said: “We wanted to help make Christmas brighter for as many children as possible and give them something to look forward to that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. Christmas is a time for giving and we’re honoured to have been able to give these children a day that they will remember forever.”
Bill Elliot, KidsOut co-ordinator, at Rotary International District 1060 said: “Everyone had a fantastic time at Drayton Manor’s Magical Christmas event and the children were totally captivated by the park’s transformation. For many of these children this will have been the first time they have visited a theme park, and it may be the only present they get this Christmas, we’re very blessed to have the support of Drayton Manor and want to thank the park for putting on such a brilliant day.”
KidsOut charity could not do this great work without the help and support of the general public. Please visit their website to see how you can help. Businesses and organisations can also help through their Giving Tree 2015 appeal. Last year more than 4,000 children in refuge received gifts through the initiative, and this year KidsOut is aiming to help even more. To achieve this they are asking businesses and organisations to help through their Giving Tree 2015 appeal. Simply visit the website, take a KidsOut Giving Tree tag with a child’s name, age and appropriate toy; purchase the recommended gift valued between £5-10; then KidsOut will ensure that your present gets to a local child in refuge. It’s designed to be a fun alternative to the more traditional Secret Santa, the Giving Tree adds festive cheer to your office while giving back to children who have few possessions of their own. http://www.kidsout.org.uk/ways-companies-can-help/giving-tree-2015
For further information: www.kidsout.org.uk
For more information on a fabulous day out at Drayton Manor Theme Park over the Christmas period and next year, visit: www.draytonmanor.co.uk
Photos courtesy of KidsOut and Drayton Manor Park