Phantasialand

Phantasialand - Bringing Smiles Shelter Project

It all started with an open ended question to social worker that we had previously worked with at daycare facility for the homeless (Diakonie Düsseldorf).

How can we make the people that visit your shelter smile?

The answer came across as a complete surprise – a day in an amusement park. And this is what we did. 35 people from 20 to well over 65 years old. It was a great mix of people and characters, with many touching stories.

We left the Shelter in the morning. The bus was buzzing with excitement as everyone discussed the attractions, which rides were the most daring, which attractions were a must see and which ones to do first. After almost an hour drive we got to Phantasialand, an amusement park near Cologne. Getting there, the group naturally divided into smaller groups, all with the same goal: having fun!

The atmosphere, attractions, rides at an amusement park naturally give you this feeling of being a kid again, free of stress and worries. For many in the group it had a special meaning as they couldn’t even recall when they last experienced such a feeling.

As the event was open to all to join, we had no information on the demographics of people that would attend. The first surprise came at the entrance when we asked how many were over 65 years old. 15 of them! The oldest participants were also the most daring: joining even the most craziest of rides, with a walking stick in hand.

There were plenty of smiles and laughter in between the rides as people recalled and discussed the experience. Mission accomplished!

Thanks to Philip Machado (Tagesstätte Shelter’s Social Worker) for organising the Phantasialand excursion and to Annika Lönnemark, Elena Dorina Stănilă, Maria Kaercher, Rohit Choudhary & Stefan Kaercher (Volunteers) for lending a hand with the participants and making the day a memorable one!

26. October 2013,
Brühl