MINNEAPOLIS -- This holiday season, Be the Change MN and the Mall of America are partnering to offer a true Winter Wonderland for students and their families from three North Minneapolis Schools.
This VIP experience is for kids pre-K through 5th grade and organizers say this year's event will be three time bigger than last.
Minnehaha Academy senior, Trent Page, showed his 10-year-old friend McKenzie around Nickelodeon Universe, the site of this year's Winter Wonderland. Trent is a student ambassador with Be the Change MN.
"The day you go on the orange thing is when you really grow up you know what I'm saying," joked Page. "That's the most scary ride for me."
Last year, Page was part of the team of students from the some of the most prestigious high schools in the Twin Cities, who put together the Winter Wonderland event at Nellie Stone Johnson.
"Last year was a fantasitc event," said Page. "The outreach was awesome and the experience was awesome, but I didnt imagine it to be on this scale in this building it's a pretty sureal experience."
This year, Be the Change MN wanted to expand their reach. Founder John Baker says adding two north side schools, Hall Stem and Bethune Arts, will allow them to impact an additional 800 students and families.
"They are schools that are in our inner city and they don't get that much exposure," said Baker. "They get a lot of bad press but they are doing some amazing things and we just want to bring them out and show them that this communtiy cares about them; the kids, the teachers, and they deserve it."
This year, the VIP experience will include food from local chefs, games, gifts, prizes and toys from Toys for Tots. And most excitingly...free ride wristbands for all those who want them.
"We are dealing with pre-k through fifth grade in the inner city some of these families have never been to the Mall of America," said Baker.
Student amabassadors want this event to take kids away from some of the stress associated with living in North Minneapolis.
"Come in for a little while, have a good time, and for the families as well to be able to forget what's on the outside...be able to come in here and be supported by the community," said Page.
Page's new friend, and Nellie Stone Johnson student, McKenzie Bowen is not only excited for the event but grateful.
"We have to be grateful for this because some other schools don't get this," said Bowen.
Baker's goal is to reach as many students and families as possible to make this holiday special.
"These kids are going to leave with an amazing experience," promises Baker.
Nickelodeon Universe will be closed to the public this Sunday from 8 a.m. until noon for the Winter Wonderland.
Be the Change MN is always looking for volunteers and sponsors for the event. To learn more about this event or to learn more about volunteering, click here.
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