Sunshine Foundation

Why do Sunshine Children Dream of Dolphins?

Mercredi 12 juillet 2017

Children living with severe physical disabilities or life-threatening illnesses who dream big with Sunshine often request an interaction with dolphins. Wading into a shallow lagoon alongside their family, surrounded by beautiful tropical scenery of tall palm trees and blue waters sets the scene for an exotic and exciting dolphin encounter. But what do children find so fascinating about a dolphin experience. 

Daniel Dolphin Encounter1. A dolphin experience is tactile and educational. Kids are invited to touch and discover the dolphin’s smooth skin, rubbery belly and learn about the anatomy that makes dolphins so unique. Mutual curiosity between a child and the friendly dolphin can break open a child’s timid nature and hesitation of experiencing new things to try touching the animal on their own.

2. Most dolphin experiences are accessible, either by being in the water or on land. The ones arranged for a Sunshine Dream are coordinated to suit a child’s specific needs. Dolphin trainers are good at pairing the

 animal’s skills and personality to suit the child’s abilities during one-on-one interaction. Personal encounters may include swimming with the dolphin, doing tricks together, or simply touching the animal and relaxing by its side. 

3. Dolphins are naturally good communicators. Dolphins are smart, playful and social aquatic animals. They thrive on friendly social interaction through play, physical contact, and communication. Using non-verbal physical queues to express themselves and kid-like squeals to show delight, many children who have limited or no verbal abilities often delight in finding a common bond.

4. Dolphin experiences are magical and life-changing. With the help of the trainer, a customized dolphin experience can be beyond a child’s wildest imagination. Interacting with a dolphin is so different than any other daily experience that it becomes a blank slate for a child to test their openness and confidence. In return, the curiosity, play, and loving attention from a dolphin sparks imagination and possibility. After their dolphin dream come true, children often connect this positive experience back to their personal lives, inspiring breakthroughs, new goals, and a newfound sense of confidence. 

Shannon dolphin swim“There are no words to describe how we felt watching Shannon pulled alongside her new dolphin friend, Lester, during her Dolphin Swim. Shannon came alive! Her head was up and her face was bright as she laughed out loud … One of the best things about our Sunshine trip was the opportunity to share it as a family. This little window of freedom—a chance to briefly escape the daily pressures of home and doctors’ visits to experience something amazing together—was a priceless gift.” – Kathy, Shannon’s mom (Sunshine Dreamer 2013).

It is, however, important to note that dolphins may not always interact with everyone in the same way. When we book dolphin encounters, families are reminded that animals might not interact with every individual. All in all, the support of the dolphin trainers, aquarium staff, and everyone involved in a Sunshine Dream come true help make a child’s dream an experience of a lifetime. 

In the past five years, Sunshine has fulfilled a number of dolphin dreams customized for dreamers like Daniel, Ashlynn, and Sebastian whose dream stories can also be read on our website. 

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Ashlynn Dolphin Dream