2019 Foster Festival at Enchanted Island Amusement Park

After months of preparation and planning, worries about rain; the community came together for the 2019 Foster Festival at Enchanted Island Amusement Park.  The event went off without a hitch creating life long lasting memories for kids in the foster care system.

Saturday February 23, 2019 saw thousands of children and their caregivers arrive at Enchanted Island.  Some of the kids have been to this event before and knew how fun the day would be while others waited with nervous excitement for the day to begin.  For kids in the foster care system fear often weighs in equal parts to excitement because of the unknown.  They want to trust their caregivers that it will be a fun day but years in the system makes them weary.

Getting off the shuttle that brought the kids to the event from the parking structure at Phoenix College they could smell the popcorn and hear the live music playing.
The kids were greeted by superheroes from The Dark Empire, The Avengers and The Ghostbusters and even some princesses!

There were 3 entrances into the event after check-in.  One entrance lead to the Enchanted Island Amusement Park itself which is full of fun rides and attractions.  Again this year Vice Mayor Laura Pastor's office sponsored the "Bike Rodeo" where kids rode bikes through an obstetrical course learning valuable bicycle safety then each receiving their own bike helmet.

The kids enjoyed the carousel and train along with all of the other Enchanted Island attractions.

Watch this fun video featuring the AZ Ghostbusters, Phoenix PD and Thunder from GCU!

The other two entrances to the event took the kids past rows of resources to help the children navigate life after they age out of the foster care system.

Thanks to KOR Beauty Academy the kids were offered haircuts, braids and up do's and a chance to get their nails done.

For kids in foster care having the chance for a bit of pampering helps drastically in improving self esteem and and self worth.

What would a day at an amusement park be without food?  We had that covered thanks to community support!

With a row of carnival games with prizes, bounce houses, a rock wall, zip line, game trailer, petting zoo, hamster balls; there was something fun for everyone to do!

The live entertainment at the 2019 Foster Festival was engaging and entertaining and the kids LOVED it!

For me there were two powerful and profound moments at the 2019 Foster Festival that stand out.

Walking through Enchanted Island with Sheriff Paul Penzone was eye opening as he patiently stopped and spoke with everyone he encountered.  He even kicked the soccer ball with the kids at the GCU booth!  For children in foster care there is frequently an innate fear of law enforcement as the police were likely on site when the kids were removed from their parents care.  The sheriff, MCSO and the Phoenix Police Department spent the day working to alleviate those fears and helping the community heal.

Matt with WearMe Pro was on site passing out sunglasses to every person that attended the event!  I noticed a teen at the WearMe Pro table and thought Matt had brought someone with him to help.  The young man helped open boxes, suggested glasses for the kids, picked up garbage and was all around very helpful.  It wasn't until the end of the day that I realized he was not there with Matt but came with his group home.  It demonstrated profoundly how much these kids crave connection, attention and appreciation.  He felt part of something for those few hours, he felt appreciated and so clearly enjoyed seeing the happy faces and gratitude of the kids getting the perfect pair of sunglasses.  Matt was so patient and encouraging with this teen and that is something he will remember for the rest of his life.

Alone we can make a difference, together we change the world.

Thank you to our community for coming together to hold such an incredible event.  None of this would have been possible without you.  From donating your time by volunteering to donating services and those who discounted prices to help with this event, we thank you all!
I want to list everyone that helped with this event to thank and acknowledge them all but I am worried I will miss someone.  Thank you all!

We have already started planning for the 2020 Foster Festival.  Please let me know if you would like information on becoming a sponsor.  az4children.laura@gmail.com


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