Each year, three thousand kids in South Florida are taken from their homes and placed in the foster care system. What is it like for a young child to leave the only life they’ve known–albeit a life of neglect and abuse–and start the unknown journey toward hope and healing?
Walking through a crisis
4KIDS of South Florida, an organization providing hope for kids in crisis, invites the general public to an unforgettable 4-D interactive evening on Feb. 25 and 26 at the Banyan Air Service hangar in Fort Lauderdale. Participants will see, feel, and experience the true-life story of a young girl found sleeping on a park bench–lost and lonely–without hope for her future. They will walk in her shoes as she experiences a life of drugs, alcohol, body cutting, the occult, police activity, foster care, and more. They will feel her emotions as she charts her path through the foster care system to a place of safety, security, and stability.
“Tour guides will lead groups of 15 through the interactive experience. The dramatic tour is designed as a cross between a museum tour and a haunted house experience. Individuals will wear headphones and listen to dramatic recordings as they view live reenactments,” explains Tom Lukasik, Director of 4KIDS.
Bruce Thompson, 4KIDS Director of Development, explains, “We all understand the incredible distinction that exists between learning about something and experiencing it for ourselves. There is a major difference between my understanding of parenthood from reading books and even talking to other parents and the first time I held my daughter in my arms.”
Community support is key.
“We are so grateful to our community volunteers and corporate partners who have allowed us to construct this crisis experience, Bruce continues, “hundreds of people within our community will have the chance not to hear or read about foster care but to understand it for themselves.” Before the guided tour begins, participants will dine on culinary delights catered by Uncle Julio’s, a top-rated Mexican restaurant. At the conclusion of the evening, participants are invited to meet the young woman featured in the presentation, as well as others who have been in the foster care system. There will be time for questions and answers as participants enjoy coffee and dessert in a casual atmosphere.
Doug Sauder, president of 4KIDS, encourages concerned citizens to attend or sponsor this fundraising event. “Although countless kids will experience the foster care system, most of us will never know what it’s like. This is your opportunity to take part and make a difference,” Sauder says.
A personal progression
Joyce Feldman, Director of Community Relations explains the inspiration for this unique experience. “This event is designed to bridge the divide between thinking and experiencing. It’s an opportunity to literally walk through the life of a foster child, seeing what they did, experiencing what they did, smelling what they did, and feeling the emotions they did. There have been a number of very real challenges they’ve faced in their journey. This walk-thru is an ‘in-your-face’ personal journey that for some, will not be very pleasant. But I think it will ultimately encourage people that one person, a single act of kindness, and a commitment to see the foster child safely through the process, can have eternal rewards. When I accepted a position with 4KIDS, I had a basic understanding of the foster care crisis. But what I’ve learned over the past 4 years has changed my life. I’ve seen incredible strides being taken. I’ve met amazing people with uncommonly sacrificial hearts and servant minds step up and make an unbelievable difference in the life of a child. But most importantly what I’ve discovered, was once I had the chance to get to know the children and young adults and learned what God has done in there lives…how He has redeemed [everything] they’ve been through…that is what I want every one who experiences The Crisis to discover.”
It takes a community
As befits a community crisis, it has been a community that has responded. More than ten churches and schools are involved in this event, contributing props, building sets, providing actors, and coordinating the logistics of the function. Event organizers expect more than 800 guests will attend.
Tickets, available at www.4kidsofsfl.org, are $25 and benefit 4KIDS of South Florida. Corporate sponsorship packages are also available by contacting Bruce Thompson at 954-556-4353.
4KIDS of South Florida offers hope and healing to children who are victims of abuse or neglect as well as single pregnant teenagers and youth who have “aged out” of foster care. With a vision of “a home for every child in crisis,” they have provided a safe place for over 10,000 kids during the past 12 years. 4KIDS has more than 100 licensed foster homes in Broward and Palm Beach counties, and more than ten licensed family-style homes that provide care to young adults, difficult-to-place teens, and allow sibling groups to remain together.
For more information on this event or on 4KIDS, please visit www.4kidsofsfl.org.