WalMart's "Give Kids The World"- thoughts?

I saw a commercial this morning for Wal-Mart’s [url=“http://www.gktw.org/docs/about"Give Kids The World”. I’d no idea the place even existed. I have very mixed feelings about the entire idea of this, and wish to ask how Dopers feel about it.

In a nutshell, it is a Disney World for children who are disabled or extremely ill/terminal. These children are prominently portrayed in the commercial I saw, and the voice-over copy makes it clear that this amusement park exists for them, and their families.

On the one hand, how wonderful. A large fun place that keeps the needs of ill children in the forefront of it’s corporate mind. The commercial made it look like a splendid place to visit.

OTOH, it gave me this feeling of Separate But Equal. Of " let’s keep those kids, the kids who are very sick, or disabled, or who look different or have no hair or walk differently or talk differently because of Cerebral Palsy, let’s keep them in their own park. Now they have a park all their own, so they won’t be going to Universal Studios or Disney World. "

It felt like a real ghettoism. Kudos to Wal-Mart for pushing for this place. Clearly the needs of these children are not well met at the more popularly visited parks, at least in Central Florida. The question is, why not? Now, I’m sure that the amusement parks abide by all local codes requiring Handicapped Accessed rest rooms and the like. I doubt they spend a dime to that end that is not required by law, but yes I am sure they abide by the laws. To not do so would invite negative publicity.

The need for a separate but equal amusement park somehow makes me feel a bit sad. Big walking “characters” shown romping with sick or hairless ( read:chemo:read:cancer ) children, etc.

Is this the Jim Crow of childhood amusement park experiences?

Cartooniverse

Sorry about that. Try WalMart’s Give Kids The World Park.

Obviously the place is beyond reproach or question, my OP is meant to address the whys of the need for a separate park at all. I mean, they’re doing fine work there–

It’s not a separate theme park. It’s a place to stay while attending central Florida theme parks. Basically a very, very nice resort with some of its own attractions.

Interesting. The entire skew of the commercial was towards presenting this as a parallel theme park, complete with rides, huge human “characters” walking around and interacting, and kids eating snack foods.

When you watch the spot, you think you’re watching shots of kids at one of the “Brand Name” theme parks. It’s not till they ID the place that you realize where you are.

Hence, my OP.

It’s not really a separate theme park. It’s a resort village designed to accomodate families with special needs kids who’re going to Disney, Universal and the like.

It’s like staying at a Ronald McDonald House Free (or nearly free) home like accomodations near hospitals, the first of which opened in Philly in 1974, so it’s not a new concept. In this case instead of during a hospital trip, its during a vacation. I don’t see the “ghettoism” that you suggest. While I have no experience with the Wal*Mart version, I assure you the Ronald McDonald Houses are not “lesser” accomodations meant to keep the kids out of sight. They are more comfortable, more accomodating, nearby, often with special support services lik a car to get to and from chemo or other treatments and support contacts or volunteers who want to help. There is the added bonus of family room areas where if our child is well enough, he/she might get the opportunity to play with other children and as a parent and adult you get to meet other parents facing similiar life challenges.

Another example is the Hole in the Wall Gang Camps These camps were originally funded by the profits from Paul Newmans salad dressing line. Special summer camps with medical facilities on site so that kids that otherwise live their lives with diseases where people often are telling them what the can’t do instead of saying, “come on lets be kids and go to summer camp”.

Nearer where I live is a place called [http://www.arrow.org/program/retreat.htm]The Arrow Retreat Center. It’s a special retreat camp for kids (and their foster families) who where removed from their birth families due to abuse or neglect.

Call me gullible, but I just don’t see the unfavorable message that you suggest in the concept of having special accomodations run by charities that are meant to serve the needs of a particular group, be it kids with cancer, kids or young adults with developmental issues or kids who’ve been removed from their families. In each case the accomodations and people that staff them are familiar (or at least particularly aware) that these kids/families face special challenges.

I’m glad there are group homes and charities that make the effort to meet the special needs of these groups.

To reiterate:

The commercial gave the strong impression that this was a parallel theme park in Central Florida for kids with special needs ( broad term, no firefights, we all know what I mean by that term in this context).

I did not realize that it was primarily a residential villiage when I wrote the OP. Hence, the OP. I spent the day at the Hole In The Wall Gang Camp last September at a private fundraising auction.

Now that I see that the place is more a village to and sleep in after visiting other tourist sites in the Central Florida area, I see that the commercial was somewhat misleading ( intentionally or otherwise ).

I apologize if I impugned the good intentions and supportive natures of these kinds of facilities in any way. The reason for my O.P. was to address a commercial I saw, and the impression that it gave to me.

I find nothing at all unfavorable in the idea of having a residential facility like this. What I saw on the t.v. seemed to be a separate theme park for children with special needs, and that felt odd to me.

Hence, my O.P.

When my daughter was battling cancer we did a make-a-wish to Disney World and it was nice to get special treatment. There were times that it may have been nice to have a separate park. Her immune system was weak and standing in long lines was tireing.
Please, don’t anyone think that segregating sick or special needs kids is bad. As long as they are not forsed to be apart and are free to join the healthy kids, all is well.

-sigh- Okay. I am not trying to bad-mouth Wal-Mart, Paul Newman, Ronald McDonald or anyone else’s good intentions here okay???

The reason, again, for the O.P. was the impression that this particular commercial made on me.

Has anyone else seen this commercial? Did it make a similar impression in any way?

Roadwalker, I am very sorry you and your child had to stand in line at all. I was under the obviously mistaken impression that such parks as Disney World made allowances for such, and moved guests to the front of the line, which is usually but not always shaded- therefore avoiding difficult and unhealthy waits.

We went to Disneyworld with friends whose daughter had cancer, and they stayed in that village. Very nice, very necessary! Large accomodations, big enough to hold all the medical support gear that had to come with, lots of trained personnel to help with IV treatments, central line care, respiratory care, etc. etc.

When the kids felt up to it, they’d go out with their families to any attraction in Orlando. By showing their special pass, they got to the head of the line ANYWHERE (so did their guests, wow did we get spoiled).

If the kids weren’t up to a lot of time in the parks, the GKTW village was set up to help entertain them as well as care for them.

Definitely NOT a “separate but equal” sort of thing. Rather it’s the best way to help give these kids a chance to participate in some pleasurable activities.

Roadwalker, you guys had to stand in line??? I am stunned. Every person I saw there via Make-a-Wish got the special badge to go to the head of every line.

Q.T.M. Thank you for sharing your experience as well, it sounds like a great place indeed !!!

I want to see the spot again, with and without sound on. Hmmmmm.

It’s perfectly ok to be of two minds on this issue.
I think it’s wonderful for corporations to give money for things like this, although I’m not sure why they don’t just do it and keep their mouths shut.
I don’t like what Wal-Mart does to the communities it dominates.
Peace,
mangeorge

I knew someone would have to say something bad about Wal-Mart in this thread.

Pretty mild condemnation, though, hey mike? :wink:
Intent does color effect, does it not?

Just to be clear, Wal-Mart did not invent GKTW. They are just one of their larger donors.

True. Wal-Mart was named by iconography through this spot I saw, as well as aurally by the voice-over text.

They sure wanted the viewer to make the firm connection.

Also, remember, while it is always good to provide for sick children, many of WalMarts own workers do not have access to (or cannot afford on their wages) any sort of health care. WalMart is America’s largest single employer, and yet many of their employees, the ones that make WalMart work, lose teeth, limbs and lives to the fact that they do not have medical care.

The large corporation I work for is currently running ads about how much they help sick children, saying they don’t “want any child in their community to go without medical care”. And yet I know co-workers that have been fired and thrown on the street after suffering strokes, somebody with a broken arm because he couldn’t afford his epilepsy medicine (he’s lucky they kept him on while his arm heals) and countless other sob stories caused by a lack of access to medical care. I think it’s rediculous that this company can pat itself on the back while the very people that make that company work suffer.

I have seen this commercial, and personally, I feel like WalMart is pushing a lot on the “WE HELP SICK CHILDREN VISIT MICKEY! WE ARE VERY PROUD CORPORATE SPONSORS! LOOK WHERE SOME OF YOUR MONEY IS GOING!” message. Certainly no amount of self-restraint, there. Most corporations who give to Give Kids the World are fairly modest and usually mention it in a by-line in their advertising, and major donors get acknowledgement in GKTW’s brochures and fiscal papers. WalMart is tooting their own horn as any other corporation would do, but while others use a Selmer student model trumpet, Wal*Mart is using a neon-green, Calvin Klein-inspired sousaphone with power amplifier attached, played by someone with lung power that could blow Rhode Island right off the atlas.

Give Kids the World allows absolutely no corporate logos or “this item donated by …” on anyt building on property. Story is that Henri Landwirth (the founder) turned down a something like a half-million dollar donation from a major airline (American Airlines? not sure) when the representatives, in acknowledgement of the donation, wanted the airline logo plastered across the front of the pavilion. When the corporate president heard about the refusal, he was quite impressed with Mr. Landwirth’s ability to stick to his principles, and gave GKTW double the donation, no questions asked, no logo needed. His (Mr. Landwirth’s) feeling is, although it is charity, it should not feel like a charity case. Of course, donations are tax-deductible as permitted by law. And even the little guy or girl (like me) can get a warm fuzzy and a line-item deduction, too. [Mostly, I give them G-rated videos I scrounge out of the sales bins, since they are always in need of videos for the bungalows - sometimes the kids are too sick or exhausted to go to the parks, so they need some entertainment.]

I’ve been there, I’ve met the kids, I’ve given out Halloween candy, I’ve talked to the kids and their parents in the park, I have the book (“A Gift of Love” - get it). With the exception of very, VERY few cases (maybe two or three total out of the hundreds I’ve met over the last 12 years), everyone has been having a good time. And (not to toot my own horn), I make sure that I talk or have fun with ALL of the kids in the party, since sometimes, as I found out, the siblings tend to get shunted to the side while everyone else is cooing over the wish child (the particular child wears a pink or blue button with the GKTW logo, the child’s name [first name & last initial] and their home city and state/country, while the rest of the party usually has a Make-A-Wish button or a “Panama Jack/GKTW” t-shirt - this is the only corporate logo I have ever seen on property. It’s a great place for the kids and often moreso for the parents. Most say, “I don’t want to leave”, and mean it.

The irony of the whole thing is, GKTW sits behind a mega-Super WalMart. And thanks to WalMart building a mega-Super Center at the corner of Bass Road and Rte. 192, GKTW now has a traffic light at that intersection where for years, they did not. A lot of accidents used to happen at that intersection (it was a local semi-paved road that leads to a local landfill far at the end of the road), and I could picture a family getting broadsided by oncoming traffic while they were turning left to go to the parks, wiping out the whoile family on their day of fun. Much safer now, thanks to Le Mart du Wal*.

screech (tuh-TAH!)-owl

You know, we’ve got a pretty dangerous corner near our house, rated as one of the top 10 dangerous intersections in the United States by various insurance industry data.

I wonder if I can ask Wal*Mart to build a store there and put up a light, since going to the city or county is obviously out of the question.

Screetch, though, thanks for the ideas on the kids videos and such. I always see them in the bahgain bins here and there and always want to pick some up, but can never think of a ‘reason’ to.