This week I’ve been thinking about the story of Alice in Wonderland, or at least the Disney movie version of it. It’s a world full of color, strange characters and imagination. What starts as a journey into an exciting and strange place slowly becomes a frightening nightmare.

Leaven Kids 9-2012-59When you’re a kid, your idea of what a wonderland would be is probably a place full of toys and sweets, or maybe a theme park full of fun and rides. It could simply be a day off school, or a few hours left home alone to watch all the TV you want.

But after several hours of getting your dream day, once the excitement wears down, the dream could turn into a nightmare. I remember being excited to stay home alone for the first time as a kid, only to scare myself when I heard a strange noise and spent most of the evening with all the lights on afraid to go to sleep. It didn’t help that I’d eaten too many Cheetos and made my stomach upset, either.

It’s often the things we want most that are the worse for us. Many kids in the communities The Leaven serves live lives that many of their peers many envy from the outside. Often, they can eat whatever they want and watch TV all day after school. Their parents are too busy working to always be home to guide them to better activities. They work too much, just trying to pay the bills to help their kids with their homework.

This is no dream for these kids, it’s a true nightmare. As time goes on these students fall farther behind in school, and suffer from poor health and obesity from their lifestyles. That’s why The Leaven is there. We give kids and their families the structure and support they need to succeed. We help them build healthy habits and make good life choices as a family so everyone benefits. We teach these kids how to find wonderlands within books and in their imaginations through play.

That’s why The Leaven is a wonderland in many ways to the kids we serve. Our program creates a place where kids can dream, and where they can make those dreams come true. By helping kids succeed in school and live healthy lives, we are helping them be the best they can be every day.

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