Houston Area Youth Take Flight of a Lifetime to North Pole

Houston Area Youth Take Flight of a Lifetime to North Pole

December 18 2023

Children across the world have been writing letters to Santa for weeks, eagerly and excitedly expressing their wishlists for Christmas while daydreaming of what it would be like to visit Santa's workshop at the North Pole. One group of Houston-area boys and girls recently took the trip of a lifetime to see it for themselves.

In collaboration with United Airlines, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Houston sent 100 of its members to experience a magical Christmas adventure, courtesy of the annual Fantasy Flight initiative. Hailing from communities across the Greater Houston Area, the participants took a flight from George Bush Intercontinental Airport to none other than Santa’s workshop at the North Pole. Participants received boarding passes, traversed through TSA, indulged in snacks and games, and boarded a festively decorated plane set for their magical destination.

Participants settling into their seats on the Fantasy Flight destined for the North Pole. (Photo Credit: Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston)

The day was filled with holiday cheer and happiness, as pilots and staff dressed as elves and sang carols, making it an unforgettable experience for participants. Even a local fire department joined in the festivities, waving off the plane as it embarked on its fantastical hour-long journey. The magic continued upon landing at the North Pole - the United Cargo Facility - where the children and their families were met by an array of characters and gifts at Santa's workshop, generously sponsored by partners and community businesses.

The Fantasy Flight initiative provides a much-needed break and a heart-warming Christmas experience for participants and their families, many of whom have never flown before. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston, who partner with institutions like the Houston Police Department and have worked with Wal-Mart in the past, actively seek such collaborations to enhance the life experiences of its members while focusing on academic success and rewarding hard work and discipline in academics.

Participants reveling in the magic of their recently completed trip to the North Pole. (Photo Credit: Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston)

"This is the best day of my entire life!”, said one of the members who participated in this year's Fantasy Flight initiative.

As an incentive to participate in Fantasy Flight, Club members who have shown consistent dedication to the Club's accelerated literacy program were considered for this opportunity. The program, designed to bridge the reading gaps amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, has seen members enthusiastically attending after-school tutoring sessions. Three times a week, they connect with licensed educators and paraprofessionals, diving into carefully curated reading groups powered by the BookNook online literacy platform.

Returning for its second consecutive year, Fantasy Flight is a result of the special relationship between United Airlines and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston. Based on participation last year, Justin Petrochko, the Manager of Global Community Engagement Partnerships at United, reached out to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston this year to extend another invitation for Fantasy Flight, with only 25 cities worldwide chosen to participate. United Airlines generously provides both financial and in-kind support to bring this extraordinary opportunity to Houston-area youth. Club Program Manager for Accelerated Learning, Courtney Coleman, along with Club Directors and youth development specialists, played a key role in bringing the initiative to life.

Participants were greeted by various characters upon arriving at the North Pole. (Photo Credit: Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston)

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston serves over 50,000 members across 26 clubs. Their focus ranges from academic enrichment, food and nutrition, character development, to providing safe spaces. The Fantasy Flight Express initiative is a testament to their commitment, showing the lengths they go to ensure that their club members have not just the essentials, but also experiences that enrich members' lives. 

The wider community can support the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston in numerous ways, including volunteering, donations, or advocacy efforts. By supporting initiatives like the Fantasy Flight Express, they can help create more unforgettable experiences for the Club's members, fostering lasting memories and spreading joy throughout the year. For more information, visit bgcgh.org

By Tiffany Krenek, My Neighborhood News 
Tiffany Krenek has been on the My Neighborhood News team since August 2021. She is passionate about curating and sharing content that enriches the lives of our readers in a personal, meaningful way. A loving mother and wife, Tiffany and her family live in the West Houston/Cypress region.

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