Anyone who says that fictional princesses aren’t real obviously have not heard of these young women.
Kylee McGrane and Maggie McAndrew, seniors at The College of Mount Saint Vincent in the Bronx, founded A Moment of Magic, a non-profit program that brings the dreams of children hospitalized with serious illnesses to life by having volunteers dress up as popular Disney princesses and visiting as much as possible.
Over winter break in 2014, McGrane watched the movie Frozen with her family. As she watched the movie, she thought of the resemblance of the two main characters in the movie, Queen Elsa and Princess Anna of Arendelle, to herself and her best friend McAndrew. Knowing that she and McAndrew have always had a passion for helping others, the idea to dress up as Anna and Elsa and visit sick children in the hospital was born. “It was kind of this weird epiphany of all my favorite things in one project,” said McGrane. She pitched the idea to McAndrew was eager to get started.
The pair raised the money for their princess costumes and began visiting children’s hospitals in 2015. Currently, what started as two students dressing as princesses and visiting hospitals, has grown into AMOM, a program with 40 student volunteers that has reached over 5,000 children in 2016 alone.
Visiting hospitals in person, making Skype calls with kids across the country, attending pediatric cancer fundraisers and events, and never turning down an invitation to visit outline what makes this organization so magical. “We want to remove kids from the hospital setting and help them believe in beautiful things,” McGrane says, but doing so takes practice. To keep their princess skills sharp, the organization meets once a week to discuss what it means to play princess and how to interact with the kids. During their visits, they do more than walk through the room for a minute; they sing their princess’ songs to the kids, chat with them about their favorite things, and give them toys.
The goal is to give these kids the opportunity to reclaim their childhood, feel like a regular, fairytale-loving kid, and make the interaction a lasting memory for the kids and their families. Mother of a child diagnosed with cancer, Shara Moskowitz, had AMOM visit for her daughter’s sixth birthday. Reflecting on the experience, Moskowitz said, “[My daughter] was able to escape a little bit of what was going on health-wise and was given the freedom to fantasize and dream– not focus on the fact that her childhood was being robbed from her.”
Though the kids are always happy to see their favorite Disney princesses, McGrane and McAndrew want to expand the organization to include superheroes and more fairytale characters through groups call Mission Superhero and The Fairytale Force respectively. They have also opened AMOM up to other interested college campuses nationwide with the hopes that any child, regardless of location, who requests a visit from the princesses can get an in-person visit. For anyone who wants to work in a hospital, but would rather be a princess than a doctor, this is definitely bthe way to go.
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