Left: The Gingerbread House Restaurant at Give Kids The World Village. Opposite: The Castle of Miracles and the Enchanted Carousel, Park of Dreams pool and water garden, the Ice Cream Palace, and the wheelchair accessible Keaton’s Korral. Photos: gktw.org
Giving Kids the World By Kelsey Wentling, Intern
hile giving kids the world, they’re also cleaning it up. As a charitable, non-profit organization working with Make-A-Wish Foundation, Give Kids The World provides a safe and fun place for children with life-threatening illnesses to stay while visiting central Florida’s attractions. In 2013, Give Kids The World’s property (Give Kids The World Village) achieved Platinum Certification in the Green Lodging Program after Audubon International awarded a complimentary membership to the organization in an effort to create a sustainable environment for children and their families. Gary Hile, Director of Facilities at Give Kids The World, said, although green initiatives did not come into play until the early 2000’s, such initiatives tie in closely with their core values. “It just matches the kind of mission that we want to protect the world, people and kids,” Hile said. “We feel that being environmentally sound is one way of giving back to society and to be able to protect the environment that we live in.” The Village consists of 144 Villas, several commercial buildings, game and entertainment buildings, two pools and a castle plus entertainment for guests every night of the week. With all of these facilities, Give Kids The World strives to decrease their environmental footprint, most recently by making major changes to their lighting system and increasing their recycling.
“We want to continue to upgrade and update some of our lighting systems, especially outdoor lighting, to LEDs from the old metal halide and other types and style of lighting to reduce consumption,” Hile said. “Where we can, we’ll continue to increase any recycling ability that we can, but we’ve done a lot, so it’s getting to the point where we focus on lighting. We’ve changed a lot to LED already and we’ll continue to do that as we move along.” As a non-profit organization, Hile explained that taking care of the environment exemplifies their mission to serve and care for others. Additionally, because the organization works with a population with illnesses potentially caused by environmental hazards, there is an even greater incentive for the organization to maintain a clean and healthy environment. Hile said the organization’s core values of compassion, dedication, credibility, teamwork and integrity directly correspond to their environmental goals. “We put first priority on the needs of our families. Green initiatives provide health benefits to our families by decreasing pollutants and allergens in the air and by providing an overall more efficient resort for future families to enjoy,” Hile said. “We are dedicated to providing a quality experience for every guest. By implementing green initiatives, we provide a better quality resort environment with more resourceful communication vehicles and education about our efforts to respect the earth.”