SWFL Parent & Child Magazine April 2018

Page 1


APRIL 2018

Healthy Moms Healthy Babies Healthy Families

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contents »





Features 31 protecting kids Safe Kids Southwest Florida aims to make kids safer

33 hello, new york Where to see a Broadway show in Southwest Florida

36 an artist at work

In Every Issue 9

a mother’s view

27 kid stuff

Losing his enthusiasm. What’s a parent to do?

Spark Lab: a new hands-on experience at Edison & Ford

17 ask the expert

29 teens

How to spot abuse

Escape rooms are taking off in Southwest Florida

19 single parenting We cannot afford to stay silent any longer

Meet Nalin Isme and learn how to encourage your own little artist

47 travel Keep your cool with tubing in Florida’s natural springs

20 in the kitchen Sweet, sweet corn – it’s actually good for you

On the cover At 10 years old, Nalin Isme, of Estero, is already an accomplished artist.

57 voices

23 dining out

The symphony isn’t just for snow birds

Leo’s French Toast House in Alva S W F L PA R



When the boys start driving

How do you approach post-game analysis with your child?

APRIL 20 18


58 a father’s view

25 youth sports

Other Departments 7 8 11 13

editor’s note online me time 5 things

14 41 50 51

fyi family album around town calendar


Barbra J. Reed, D.M.D., M.S., P.A. Specialist in Orthodontics • Braces for Children & Adults

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parent &child

editor's note »



Part of the USA TODAY Network

Volume 19, Issue 4 Dedicated to serving the families of Lee and Collier counties 2442 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Fort Myers, FL 33901 swflparentchild.com President & Publisher William R. Barker General Manager Kathryn Robinson Kinsey kathryn@swflparentchild.com Editor Pamela Smith Hayford (239) 335-0448 pamela@swflparentchild.com Art Director Lindi Daywalt-Feazel

Editorial Contributors Jovana Batkovic, Liana Calderin, Cathy Chestnut, Echo Copeland, Jim Dwyer, Randy Kambic, Kira Lewis, Janis B. Meredith, Ann M. O’Phelan, Francine Wolfe Schwartz, Seth Soffian, Andrea Stetson, Jennifer Thomas Photographer Amanda Inscore Vice President/Advertising Sales Nancy M. Solliday Specialty Publications Team Coordinator Dennis Wright dennis@swflparentchild.com Advertising Account Executive Nicole Holey (239) 281-6455 nholey@fortmyer.gannett.com

Distribution (239) 335-0211 Southwest Florida Parent & Child is a FREE publication distributed at more than 500 locations throughout Southwest Florida by The News-Press Media Group. All rights reserved. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information published but cannot be held responsible for any consequences arising from omissions or errors. Any opinions expressed by writers and advertisers are not necessarily opinions of the magazine or publisher.

Nurturing the artist As a nation, we tout the importance of STEM, the acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics that’s so common I probably just wasted words explaining it. While these subjects are important, so is art. Scribbling with a crayon helps a child develop motor skills, exercises decision-making and enhances visual learning. Art encourages kids to exercise creativity and inventiveness. Talking about why an artist chooses certain colors and shapes helps develop cultural awareness. And studies show a link between art and academic achievement. In other words, they’re more likely to do better in STEM subjects. Whether Nalin Isme, the boy featured on our cover, grows up to be a famous artist or changes course to accomplished physicist, his art benefits him. With art, he can express himself in ways words can’t. He can de-stress after a hard day at school. He can see beauty all around, and he can share that with an audience. Read more about him and how to encourage your child’s inner artist starting on page 36. Also in this month’s issue, learn about Safe Kids Southwest Florida and where to see a Broadway show locally. Get information on the Spark Lab and the many Escape Rooms in our region. Discover great spots to go tubing in the cool waters of Florida’s natural springs, and get the best family-friendly events for your calendar. Then pick up a crayon and enjoy a moment of Zen with your child: scribbling just to scribble.

Member of

Pamela Smith Hayford, Editor Contact us: We enjoy hearing from you. Send your photos, letters or comments to: pamela@swflparentchild.com. Or visit us online:



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They say April showers bring May flowers, but Florida doesn’t follow the rules. Like ever. April is one of the driest months of the year here. Soon, the summer rains will come. And the heat. To help your family take advantage of the great outdoors before they’re completely miserable to be in, we’re posting a list of local parks you’ll love. Check out swflparentchild.com.

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Take a trip back in time to discover what these creatures were all about! Discover 10 life-size animatronic dinosaurs on display, uncover your inner-paleontologist at the fossil dig, and snap a pic at the dinosaur photo station. Roaring Daily! 9am-5pm February 17 - June 3, 2018 Regular Garden admission 4820 Bayshore Drive, Naples, FL / 239.643.7275






Kira Lewis of Cape Coral is mom to two children, a writer and founder of calmandchaosmama.com and sunshineandhurricanes.com.

a mother’s view »


Whose dream is this anyway?


year ago, my then-12year-old son, who has been a die-hard, crazydevoted soccer player basically his whole life, seemed to lose his enthusiasm. He’d had a tough year with growthrelated injuries that had impacted his performance and his playtime. He’d stopped spending his free time practicing the way he used to, he didn’t seem to be listening to his coach, and his attitude on the field, while not bad, was disconnected. He just didn’t seem to care. His father and I really couldn’t tell if it was simply typical tween apathy or if maybe it was time to make a change. So we asked him if he still wanted to play soccer. He insisted that he absolutely did and continued to talk about playing soccer in college one day. We decided to let things go a little longer and see if he would snap out of it. As the months passed, he didn’t improve and was doing nothing beyond showing up to his regular practices. Now, we love him whether he becomes the next David Beckham or instead takes up badminton. The bigger issue was that our son was on a competitive travel team. This meant hours of shuttling him back and forth to practices, weekends away from home for games and tournaments and a significant amount of money spent for all of these things. Plus, we were looking at spend-

ing considerably more for an upcoming international trip with the team. We had no problem investing the time or money as long as we felt he was truly pursuing his dream. But as much as his words maintained that soccer was his dream, his actions said something very different. So what was the right way to handle this? I don’t know if there is a right way. My husband and I talked and worried and even argued about what we should do. There was fear about coming down too hard on him and becoming “those” sports parents. Then there was fear about not pushing him and him blaming us one day for his lost potential. What we ultimately realized was that making his dreams come true is his responsibility, not ours. Our love is unconditional, but when it comes to our support, that isn’t always going to be the case. He may have been only 12, but that’s old enough to learn the lesson that reaching your goals often means hard work and dedication. Life doesn’t give free rides, and neither do Mom and Dad. We gave him some choices. If soccer really was his dream and he wanted to continue to play on a competitive team, then he was going to have to show a greater level of commitment. He would have to talk with his coach and get feedback on the areas where he needed improvement and then spend at

least 30 minutes every day working on those areas. If his coach felt he needed extra training, he would have to pay for it. Also, we expected him to fully engage in team practices and games and pay attention even when he wasn’t on the field. He eagerly agreed to all of this, but we felt he needed a little skin in the game. We explained to him that we couldn’t sign-up for the international trip and then back out at the last minute. Instead, if he didn’t follow through with his promises, he would have to reimburse us for his portion of the trip costs and, in the fall, only recreational soccer would be an option. We made it clear to him that we didn’t care if he never saw a minute of game time during the rest of the season or during the international trip. What we wanted to see was that he really cared and was making an honest effort. I wondered if we were making a mistake, if we were being too harsh. But then it worked. He stepped up, his game improved, and I watched my son fall back in love with the game that has always had his heart. Could it have gone the other way? Absolutely. Like any good parent who loves their kid, I want to see my son’s dream come true. But it doesn’t count if we carry him across the finish line. Our kids have to get there on their own two feet or else it really isn’t their dream, now is it?



me time »

Step into summer with style Whether you’re chasing after little ones or chasing down a date night, you don’t want to have to fuss over your shoes. These summer styles fit right in.

Slip on and go The fun floral and striped print goes anywhere you go. And they’re super comfy. Created for Macy’s, the Joeey Espadrille flats are made by Charter Club. $49.50 at macys.com.

So colorful Feminine and whimsical, these SO sandals will add a beautiful spot of color to your summer. $49.99 at Kohl’s and kohls.com.

Very versatile These soft, faux suede sandals easily move from skinny jeans to a dressy sundress. Aileen sandal, $22.99 at target.com.

When the waves beckon



These sandals were made for Florida. Despite the leather upper, these shoes by Salt Water Sandals are waterproof. Even the buckle at the ankle is rust-resistant. $45 at modcloth.com.

This date night comes with child care. On Saturday, April 21, Four Freedoms Park hosts an adults-only movie in the park complete with live music (6-8 p.m.), craft beer, wine and food trucks. “The Big Sick” starts under the stars at 8:15 p.m. Child care is available in the recreation center from 6 to 10 p.m. for $15 per child (ages 4-12). Register by April 18 at 239-574-0804; no walk-ins. The kids will get their own movie night with activities, pizza and popcorn. Now that’s a win-win.


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5 things »

Ready for

day camp Throw some shade Here in Florida, your little ones need all the sun protection they’ll tolerate. Try this UPF 50+ hat from L.L. Bean. An adjustable band and neck strap allow a customized fit that doesn’t blow off in the wind. Plus, it’s ventilated and has a neck veil to protect young skin from sunburns. And, best of all, the brim floats. Kids’ Sunday Afternoons Play Hat, $28 at llbean.com.

Drink up, buttercup

This gear will have your little camper feeling and looking good, prepared to take on whatever the day brings them.

Brighten the load Kids can store lots of gear in this lightweight backpack from Cat & Jack. Technically it’s in the “boys” department, but both sexes will love its versatility and pop of bright orange. $13.99 at Target and target.com.

Little campers need to stay hydrated whether they’re going away for the day or venturing out to overnight camp. The Autospout Straw Striker Chill stainless steel kids’ water bottle by Contigo keeps drinks cold for 12 hours. Plus, a spill-proof valve prevents accidents.$15.99 at gocontigo.com or major retailers such as Walmart, Target and Amazon.

Win the name game Make sure all your kid’s stuff comes back home. Mabel’s Labels are much cuter than handwritten Sharpie and come in a variety of sizes to suit your needs. The Day Camp Label Pack comes with 16 mini name stickers, 21 clothing labels, two shoe stickers and two bag tags, all customized with your child’s name. $19.99 at mabelslabels.com.

Cool at the pool

Add a little bling to water outings with Bling2O swim goggles. The various styles are sure to float your kid’s boat. Some feature rings of rhinestones, some an Aquaman treatment (or Swamp Thing, depending on your view), some sport lots and lots of sprinkles or long, long eyelashes. $19.95-$22.95 at bling2o.com.


« fyi

Free parenting workshops Stop the screen time insanity SWFL Parent & Child columnist and Sunshine & Hurricanes blogger Kira Lewis and her partner in blogging, Michelle Myers, are releasing their new book “Screen Time Sanity: The Crazy Easy Guide to Doing Technology With Your Kids” this month. Get details at sunshineandhurricanes.com/screentime-sanity.

Ever wish your child came with an instruction manual? How about a class? The Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida offers free group parenting classes to help parents figure out their strengths, use effective discipline strategies and set appropriate expectations for their kids. The eight-week course that starts April 10 is focused on parenting a child with special needs, special health care needs or emotional disturbances. Free child care is available during the workshops, which take place 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays at the Healthy Life Center at Coconut Point in Estero. To register, call 239-343-6468 or email Richard.Keelan@ LeeHealth.org.

Make way for the Fun-Mobile Where you see this van, fun is sure to follow. Cape Coral Parks & Recreation teamed up with the Police Athletic League to create instant recreation for kids. “We pull up and it’s an instant party,” says Mark Cagle, supervisor at the William “Bill” Austen Youth Center. The van is stocked with sports equipment, a PA system and a mobile DJ. You might see them at a Movie in the Park event or just on an ordinary day at the park. A web page and schedule are in the works.

Cape hospital named Baby-Friendly The Cape Coral Hospital is the first in Southwest Florida to receive the prestigious moniker Designated Baby-Friendly from Baby-Friendly USA. The initiative recognizes facilities that offer a certain level of care for moms and their babies that helps them successfully breastfeed.

Drop into the Battle of Fort Myers The Imag History & Science Center in Fort Myers has a new virtual reality experience: the Battle of Fort Myers. Historian Jim Powers conducted extensive research on the battle that took place February 20, 1865, to make the experience as realistic as possible. Except for the violence. When a guest immerses into the VR experience, they see what it was like to be out in the field and behind the fort walls during the battle. “Our goal is to engage visitors in science and history, and we believe this exhibit is a perfect blend of both disciplines,” says Executive Director Matt Johnson. Learn more at theimag.org.


Scholarships available for private school More than 1,700 Florida private schools offer Florida Tax Credit Scholarships to students from low-income families. Private corporations make tax-deductible donations to approved nonprofits, which in turn award scholarships to help families afford private school or the transportation costs of attending a school outside of their area. In March, the First Baptist Academy in Naples announced it received approval from the state to offer the scholarships. The school directs interested families to Step Up For Students, stepupforstudents.org. Another scholarship funding organization is aaascholarships.org.






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Principals as People of the Year, a rising star and a hero mom Lee County Public Schools principals were honored in a February ceremony as People of the Year for 2017 in The News-Press People of the Year awards program. They and their staffs sheltered some 24,000 Hurricane Irma evacuees, providing food, comfort and safety. The awards program also recognized Dunbar High School senior Isabella Andersen with the Rising Star award for student and community achievement. David Lucas, who has given much to the community and schools, was awarded the 2017 Luminary for lifetime achievement. Certainly not least, mom Danielle Hagmann was named Hero of the Year. She had stopped to help an injured motorist on the interstate and was herself struck by a car, pinning her legs against the guardrail. Her legs had to be amputated.

Free help for families affected by addiction

DANCING CLASSROOMS BLOCK PARTY Friday, April 20 6 to 8 p.m. between Ford’s Garage and Naples Flatbread Live entertainment, dancing, drinks and appetizers benefits Dancing Classrooms program.

FAMILY YOGA FREE LIVE ENTERTAINMENT WITH KATHRYN Saturday, April 21 Saturdays 1 to 7 p.m. PLAYLAND 10 a.m. in Sundays 2 to 5 p.m. FREE 45-minute beginners’ CAR CRUISE-IN yoga class for parents and Sunday, April 1 toddlers to tweens. Bring a mat. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. COLORS OF THE RAINBOW PLAYLAND near Saturday, April 21 DOG DAZE AT MIROMAR 4 p.m. at Miromar Design Center Thursday, April 5 Dancing Classrooms finale. 6 p.m. near the Restaurant Piazza KIDS DAY Enjoy pet-friendly specials Saturday, April 28 at participating stores and 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. restaurants. PLAYLAND in Activities for toddlers to 12 SCIENCE SATURDAY and treats from participating Saturday, April 14 restaurants. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. PLAYLAND in FREE KIDS CRAFTS Every Wednesday MOMS APPRECIATION DAY 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wednesday, April 18 in PLAYLAND 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. BABY BOOT CAMP PLAYLAND in Monday, Wednesday, Friday Moms receive freebies while & Saturday 9 a.m. their kids attend our FREE in PLAYLAND Kids Crafts. Visit MiromarOutlets.com for more details.

SAVE UP TO 70% OFF RETAIL PRICES! Miromar Outlets Gift Cards* are valid at all Outlet Stores and Restaurants and can be purchased at MiromarOutlets.com, the Mall Office or Visitor Information Kiosk.

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Southwest Florida is not immune to the drug crisis raging across the United States. To help families affected by addiction to opioids, alcohol and other substances, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation provides a free support group that meets 6:30 to 8 p.m. every Monday at the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. For more about the Caring Families Group or the foundation, visit hazeldenbettyford.org.

FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERT SERIES Fridays 6 to 9 p.m. in the Restaurant Piazza April 6: Honey Creepers April 13: Neon Summer April 20: Bill Colletti Music Group April 27: Electric Lipstick


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Voted Cape Coral’s Best Dance Academy Come Join Our Family of Dancers

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Liana Calderin is the clinical director at Abuse Counseling and Treatment Inc., a licensed mental health counselor, registered nurse, professor at Hodges University and mom to two boys.

ask the expert »


How to spot

ABUSE Abuse of any kind compromises a child’s well-being today, tomorrow and in the future.



ids always look for role models. That’s why parenting style always matters. Families, whether traditional or nontraditional, function in a systematic manner. As parents and caregivers, we are supposed to offer guidance and support, tell our kids what to do and not to do, teach ways to communicate and handle conflict, and we show them how important it is to connect with people. Being a parent or a child’s caregiver means to procure their well-being. Abuse of any kind compromises a child’s well-being today, tomorrow and in the future. But what really is child abuse? How can you tell if your child or any child is being abused? Most states recognize four types of abuse: emotional, physical, sexual and neglect. Children can be victims of one form of abuse

or multiple. Emotional abuse takes place when caregivers fail to fulfill the child’s emotional and psychological needs. An example could be when parents do not nurture the child’s emotional development or when children feel abandoned, rejected, constantly criticized and not wanted. Another example is when children receive ambivalent messages from their environment. This typically happens to children who witness violence and one of the caregivers tries to teach the child to avoid violence, but they grow in the middle of it. Children of parents who abuse substances, like drugs and alcohol, usually have part or all their childhood taken away by the constant need to rescue one of the parents either from each other or from their addiction. The use of substances also compromises the quality of care that a person can give a child.

ASK THE EXPERT We welcome questions from readers. Ask us anything. We’ll find the answer. Send your question to editor@swflparentchild.com with “Ask the Expert” in the subject line.


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When we talk about physical abuse, we need to understand that corporal discipline is allowed as long as it is age appropriate, does not leave marks on a child and does not become an act of cruelty against the child. The problem with corporal punishment is that children move and try to get away and accidents can happen. You never know how a situation is going to end, so it’s better to prevent high risk situations. Nowadays, research studies show that structured parents tend to be more successful educating their children than authoritarian parents. Signs of physical abuse include bruises, black eyes, burns, broken bones, frightening behavior and intensified fear around the parents or caregivers. School absences are always » Online: concerning, too. They can be a reportabuse.dcf. sign of hiding physical abuse or state.fl.us possible neglect. » Call: 1-800Parents and caregivers are 962-2873 expected to provide basic needs » Florida of shelter, food, proper hygiene Relay: 711 or and a safe environment. TTY 800-955Another form of abuse 8771 children might encounter is If you suspect sexual. Sexual abuse is a major or know of a child or life-changing event that marks vulnerable adult a child’s life forever. With in immediate research and statistics showing danger, call 911. that the majority of the times sexual assault perpetrators know their victims, being vigilant is imperative to protect children. Some child victims of sexual abuse get so scared, embarrassed, ashamed and vulnerable that they do not talk about the abuse. Parents and caregivers should be alert and willing to find out what is happening when they notice changes in a child’s attitude or behavior. Behaviors that are considered red flags when children are being abused are: running away from home, behavioral changes such as crying, sudden introversion, becoming ungovernable, aggressive or retracted, and not finding pleasure or motivation in activities the child used to enjoy, sudden changes in sleep patterns, social skills, emotional effectiveness, secrecy, appetite changes or thoughts of suicide. Parents and caregivers must keep in mind that childhood exposure to any form of abuse will impact their lives forever. Children have difficulty adapting and coping, because their brain is not yet fully developed. Children look up to you for guidance, support and love. Make sure you can deliver.

Florida Abuse Hotline

single parenting »

Echo Copeland is a single mom who lives in Southwest Florida.



STAY SILENT In the wake of the Parkland school shooting, it’s become painfully clear that our children, all children, need adults to pay attention and intervene when necessary.


don’t want to rant, but I have to say it. Not only to single parents, but to every breathing, living human being. If you have a pulse, even a weak one, I’m talking to you. We need to speak up when we see something wrong with a child. If we know a single parent who is struggling to raise her children, it behooves us as human beings to say something and try to assist in any way we can. Today, everyone seems to be timid. They feel they should just leave things alone and let the parents deal with their kids. “It’s not my problem” is a phrase used way too often. I have had to speak up several times and alert others to help kids who I thought were in trouble. I did not think about the repercussions from parents being upset with me or that perhaps it wasn’t my place. I even, inadvertently, almost cost a family their children, by speaking up prematurely, I will admit. Teachers are the ones who spend the most time with students, and yet I hear too many times children are killing themselves or others, because of the despair they feel. Often it was very evident to those around them. Oh, if only more people had said something.

Of course, this comes on the heels of one of the worst school shootings in history. A shooting that took place on Valentine’s Day in our own state, just three hours away. The young man who took the lives of those kids didn’t have to kill all those children. His single mother had just died. Who was there to speak up for him? As a single parent, I can imagine how hard it was to raise those boys alone. I am not placing blame, but I am trying to bring awareness to what we go through as single parents. My heart is heavy for those 17 children and teachers. They were young people just starting life. As an educator, I am sobered to think that I am in such a dangerous profession, something no one would have concurred with even five years ago. As a parent living in Lee County, I realize how much concern there is about our schools and our safety. I reached out to our beloved superintendent of Lee County Public Schools, Gregory Adkins, who had this to say: “Education is much different than it was just a few decades ago. It is no longer simply about learning. Students and teachers are having to deal with increased threats of violence, psychological pressure and socioeco-

nomic disparity. “For some, our schools are becoming the only place where students can get a meal, the only place where an adult talks to them, the only place that can help them break the cycle of poverty, isolation or crime. “Studies show that the safer and more secure students feel, the higher their academic achievement. It is more important than ever to provide environments that support the wellbeing of our students. “Since the tragedy in Broward County, we continue to build upon the safety and security of our schools by: » Enhancing law enforcement presence on our campuses » Reinforcing safety protocols at all of our schools » Increasing safety and security training and drills with staff, students and local law enforcement » Continuing assessments of our campuses to strengthen security at all schools and » Implementing advanced security technology at all of our schools. “We will to do everything in our power to ensure our students and employees, along with family and visitors to our facilities, are safe, and have the support they need.”


in the kitchen »


SWEET, SWEET CORN ‘Knee high by the Fourth of July’ doesn’t apply to us; Florida corn is ready now.


HOW TO CHOOSE AN EAR OF CORN WITHOUT PEEKING » Avoid ears with tiny brown holes in the husk. Those are wormholes. » Feel the kernels through the husk for plump and plentiful with no holes where kernels should be. » Look for tassels (the hair-like fibers sticking out of the top) that are brown and sticky to

the touch, not dry or black. » The husk color should be bright green and tightly wrapped around the ear and in some cases the husk may even feel damp. SOURCE: food52.com


ecently driving north on U.S. 27, just south of South Bay, I passed a pickup truck towing a trailer piled high with sweet Florida corn. Seeing all that corn reminded me we are just about in the middle of corn season. Don’t laugh at me, but I was tempted to slow down and follow the truck, hoping the driver would soon stop and sell me a dozen ears. Biting into a crisply cooked ear of corn is the simplest way to enjoy this incredibly sweet and nutritious vegetable. Contrary to what many people think, sweet corn is not “bad for you.” Corn is neither fattening nor full of sugar. A medium-size ear of corn (about 3/4 cup of kernels) contains about the same number of calories as an apple and less sugar. It’s the slathered butter and the heavy dose of salt that takes this perfectly nutritious vegetable and makes it “bad for you.” An ear of corn contains high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals that promote healthy vision. Add 3 grams of fiber and the fact corn is a whole grain, and that puts corn at the top of the list of foods that are good for you.


Francine Wolfe Schwartz is a food and consumer product consultant in Southwest Florida.

CORN TIDBITS » Yellow, white or bi-color kernels — which is the sweetest? Doesn’t matter at all. It depends on the soil, sun and rain. » Store corn in the refrigerator with the husks on. Wrap ears in plastic wrap or store in a sealed plastic bag. Plan to eat corn within two days. » Two easy ways to remove corn kernels from the cob after removing the husks: 1. Stand the larger end in a Bundt pan and slice down

along the cob. Kernels will fall into the bottom of the pan. 2. A lot of methods stand the corn tall on a cutting board to remove the kernels from the cob. Instead, lay an ear of shucked corn flat on a cutting board and cut down the side of the cob to remove the kernels. Then rotate the cob so the flat (cut) end is on the bottom against the board. Continue cutting and rotating the corn until all the kernels are removed.

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HOW TO GRILL CORN ON THE COB For four or more ears, in husks 1. Heat the grill: Prepare an outdoor grill for high, direct heat. 2. Prepare the corn: Trim the silk from the top of each ear to prevent it from catching fire and burning. Peel away the first layer of husks and remove the stalk end using a serrated knife to expose the bottom of the ear. This will make it easier to slide the ear from the husk, post grilling. (Optional: Peel back a 1-inch section to expose the kernels and char some of the corn.) 3. Grill the corn: Place the corn on the grill, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover, turn and cook 5 minutes

more. Repeat turning at 5-minute intervals until the husks are black on all sides and the exposed kernels are charred, 15 to 20 minutes of total grilling. 4. Cool the corn: Remove the ears from the grill and cool for 5 minutes. Then you should be able to easily pull back the husks and silk. Serve with butter, freshly ground pepper and salt (optional). Note: Grill extra corn to use in other recipes. Leftover corn can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. SOURCE: thekitchn.com

Find a recipe on page 22 » SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » APRIL 2018 » 21



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« in the kitchen (continued)

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SOUTHWESTERN SALAD WITH CORN AND AVACADO Serves four INGREDIENTS » 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil » 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice » 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin » 3/4 teaspoon salt » 1/4 teaspoon pepper » 2 small heads romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (about 12 cups) » 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed » 11/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears) » 1 avocado, chopped » 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced » 1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs, lightly chopped

» 1/2 (9-ounce) bag baked tortilla chips (optional) DIRECTIONS 1. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper. Set aside. 2. Combine lettuce, pinto beans, corn, avocado, onion and cilantro in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over salad; lightly toss. Serve with chips, if desired. Note: For a different variation, try substituting grilled corn and canned black beans for the pinto beans. SOURCE: health.com

dining out »

Home-style cooking at its best Leo’s French Toast House is a landmark that’s made its mark. BY ANN M. O’PHELAN


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Robotics Game Coding toast option on the “Little Tummies” menu, where the little ones got a slice of French toast and choice of meat — sausage links, sausage patty or two slices of bacon ($2.99). We also ordered two cups of coffee ($1.75 each, free refills) and two small orange juices for the kids ($1.49 each). The food was delicious, even better than homemade. Plus, the waitress was friendly and seemed to really like kids, a good thing, especially when they are being loud and making a mess. (Not saying they were.) Leo’s French Toast House also has a lunch and dinner menu that offers everything from sandwiches and burgers to pastas and stir-fry. Dinners include grilled chicken and countryfried steaks. You can even order lunch and dinner items in the morning, but they might take a little longer (soup’s ready at 11 a.m.). Although I have only eaten at this family-owned restaurant for breakfast, customers rave about every meal that’s served up.

Leo’s French Toast House » Location: 19581 Palm Beach Blvd., Alva » Phone:

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239-728-3520 » Online: leos-french-toast-house.business.site » Hours: 7 a.m.-8 p.m. daily » Price range: $4.25-$8.99 for all-day breakfast, $4.99-19.99 for lunch and dinner » Kids’ menu: For ages 11 and younger. Breakfast: Mickey cake, French toast, one egg with toast (all with choice of two sausage links, one sausage patty or two strips of bacon), $1.99-$2.99. Lunch and dinner: Chicken nuggets, hamburger, grilled cheese, grilled ham-and-cheese (all with one side), $2.99$3.99; spaghetti (with garlic toast), $2.99. » Tips: Highchairs available. Outdoor patio dining.

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Leo’s French Toast House is the sort of restaurant that is so small, if you blink you just might miss it. This little gray cottage restaurant, with its welcoming front stairs and outdoor patio, is often busy. Inside, it’s quaint with wooden chairs and country curtains. It’s a place that locals and out-of-towners have long loved. Furthermore, TripAdvisor gives it an impressive 4.5 out of 5 points for service, value and food. Alva has a few great spots that cater to those who love home-style cooking, and this is one of them. I happened to spot this great little place a few years back, thanks to the bright yellow sign, “Leo’s French Toast House,” and the rather full parking lot. Recently on a weekday morning, I stopped in with my little one, my best friend and her little one. I bragged about how delicious their famous sourdough French toast is and went on and on about how it’s dipped in homemade cinnamon butter. Since we were running late, we were hoping we’d make it in time for breakfast. It turns out that they serve breakfast all day long. Lucky us. Besides getting that part right, as many of us love breakfast at lunch and dinner, the restaurant also has a lot of other things nailed down, including the friendly service and the price. We ordered two French toast meals (2 for $3.55 and 3 for $4.55). There was also a French



sports »

Diamond girl

Cape Coral High freshman aims for Major League Baseball. BY SETH SOFFIAN Baseball has taken her to landmark venues such as Dodger Stadium and Cooperstown, and she hopes it someday takes her all the way to Major League Baseball. For now, Cape Coral’s Sophia Mathewson — the 5-foot-8 15-year-old with the powerful build, 76-mile-anhour fastball and work ethic that won’t quit — is giddy about the next major accomplishment checked off on her list of goals: making her high school roster. “It’s so amazing,” says Sophia, a freshman on the Cape Coral High junior varsity squad. “I’ve been working for


over seven years for this.” A pitcher and first baseman, Sophia took to the sport immediately at age 7 playing mostly with and against boys. She’s made annual all-star teams in local

Little Leagues and for travel teams on which she’s played the last three years. By the time she arrived at Cape High last fall, she was a known commodity with genuine credentials. “She has all the tools,” says Cape Coral High varsity coach Mike Gorton, for whom Sophia played some during the fall exhibition season for varsity and JV squads. “She’s a smart baseball player. She knows what she’s doing. Very coachable. When she’s out there I have full confidence in what she’s able to do.” Read more about Sophia Mathewson at swflparentchild.com or news-press.com.

youth sports »

Janis B. Meredith, a coach’s wife for 29 years and sports mom for 22 years, lives in Alva, where she writes about character in youth sports on JBMThinks.com.


A parent’s post-analysis


What should we want for our kids after a game?

hen you’re leaving your child’s game, what are the thoughts that run through your head? As a sports parent for 22 years, I remember my post-game emotions being all over the place, and the other night after I walked out of my son-in-law’s game (he’s a high school coach), I had flashbacks to earlier days. My biggest concern after watching my child play sports was that they feel good about how they played. Wanting my child’s happiness after every game was probably not the wisest desired outcome, but that was the way this mom’s heart worked. I desperately wanted to see my kids feel good about themselves. Basically, I just

wanted them to be happy, because I know that dealing with grumpy athletes is not fun. I’m sure many sports parents feel the same way. You want your kids to come home feeling on top of the world, because it just makes life easier on us. But you and I both know that will not happen after every game. So, aside from their happiness, what should you want for your child after they compete? I’d like to add these to the list: » I want my child to see at least one or two victories. Even if they lost or made some mistakes, I want them to be able to recognize the good things, too. » I want my child to feel that they did their best, even if it wasn’t perfect.

» I want my child to know the satisfaction of working with teammates for a common goal. » I want my child to be hungry to keep working hard and improving. » I want my child to have an amazing game, even though I know that’s not possible all the time. » I want my child to feel respect for and from their teammates. » I want my child’s effort to be affirmed by the coach. Your child is not going to automatically feel these things without encouragement, guidance and understanding from you. It’s important for you to have conversations with your athletes about what they want to feel after a game and what they can look for as they play.






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kid stuff »

INVENTION The Edison & Ford Winter Estates’ Spark Lab inspires and educates kids with hands-on experiments. STORY AND PHOTOS BY ANDREA STETSON


homas Edison experimented with lots of different items to make his inventions. Now children in Southwest Florida are getting that same experience. A visit to the Edison & Ford Winter Estates is no longer just a look at an historic home and period furniture. It’s a hands-on, fun learning experience. Spark Lab brings 10 stations of learning and experimenting to the Edison home. It’s a program from the Smithsonian Institution with a variety of projects, from a marble run and vehicle construction to sound waves and flying objects. “We are one of nine in the country to have a Spark Lab, so it is a pretty special deal,” says Lisa Wilson, marketing and public relations director. Five exhibits will be on display at a time and will rotate every few weeks with the favorites appearing more often. One of those favorites is a wind tunnel next to a table of craft supplies. Children use items, such as feathers, paperclips, pom-poms and coffee filters, to build something to put in the wind tunnel and see if it flies. “I like the wind tunnel,” Tyler Bryson Robbins works on a circuits station where he Schultz, 14, said during a recent visit. can make things light up or create a musica l doo rbell.








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« kid stuff (continued) “It is a cool thing to do. The simple ones always work better.” “I like the wind tunnel best,” said Bryson Robbins, 11. “I just went for it. I put a bunch of coffee filters together and made a parachute design, and it ended up flipping.” Will Travis, 8, used coffee filters and pom-poms to make his flying object. “It’s fun,” he said. “It’s interesting. I wanted mine to look like a pie.” Another popular station is a marble run where children create the run and add musical features such as xylophone steps, a bell, rods and more along with wooden blocks. “I like this one, too,” Tyler said as he pushed items together to make the marble run down the xylophone. “I like the sounds,” added Sebastian Augustenborg, 9. “It’s like a roller coaster. This is cool, and it makes music.” Brittany Robbins has brought her sons Bryson, 11, and Owen Robbins, 7, to the Spark Lab, too. “I like that they can move freely and learn with their hands,” Brittany says. “They see it’s OK to make a mistake. The adults are not telling them what to do. Kids learn best when they are doing things.” Owen’s favorite is creating a birdlike invention to try in the wind tunnel. There are also some more thoughtful stations, such as the “brainstorm to invent” one that demonstrates the process of inventing. There is a snap circuits station that has children connect circuits to make a doorbell ring or make music. Pearce Augustenborg, education coordinator (and dad to Sebastian), is excited to finally have an exhibit especially for kids at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates.

Tyler Schultz, 14, creates a marble run that will create music as the marble moves through the maze.

“We have wanted to have a more interactive museum for a long time,” Pearce says. “We wanted to redesign everything in an effort to make it more hands-on, and this is just for kids. It is specifically designed for families. Parents have been extremely involved, even more than I anticipated.” Lisa says the Spark Lab will make the Estates more popular with families. “This room is where kids can be kids,” she says. “Usually when kids go to a museum, they can’t touch anything, and here they can talk and touch everything.”

Spark Lab » Where: Edison & Ford Winter Estates, 2350 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers » When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily » Cost: Included with lab and museum ticket of $15 for adults, $8 for ages 6-12, $12 for ages 13-19, free for ages 5 and younger. » Details: 239-334-7419 or edisonfordwinterestates.org

teens »

MORE WAYS TO The popular games where players must solve a mystery to escape a room are popping up throughout Southwest Florida. BY ANDREA STETSON


ow that escape rooms have become a popular phenomenon in Southwest Florida, owners are opening new locations and more rooms to keep up with the demand. An escape room, or escape game, is an interactive, hands-on adventure game where participants are locked in a themed room full of clues, puzzles and brainteasers. Guests are given a back story and an objective, which they must complete within one hour. Players sometimes compare it to being in a real-life video game. Others find it more like a challenging board game that allows people to leave the table and become fully immersed as they test their wits in a race against time. It involves teamwork, communication and delegation as well as critical thinking and attention to detail. It is also an activity that works for the whole family. “We all have different skills, and we all put it together and did it,” says Cricket Lemon, 13, who recently went to Tropic Escape in Bonita Springs with her twin sister, Samantha, and her parents and grandmother. There are several escape rooms in Southwest Florida from Fort Myers and Cape Coral to Bonita Springs and Marco Island. Here’s a look at what they offer:

One of the tasks in the Museum Heist-themed Escape Room at Tropic Escape is maneuvering under laser lights to get to the clues. Samantha and Cricket Lemon, 13-yearold twins, and their family got out of the room with 30 seconds to spare.

HEADPINZ Late last year, the HeadPinz Entertainment Center in south Fort Myers added three escape rooms: Biohazard, Bootleggers and 221B Baker Street. Guests battle zombies or the mafia or become the next Sherlock Holmes. “Escape rooms are becoming quite the boom in many businesses,” says Mike Cannington, director of sales and marketing for HeadPinz. “We just wanted to add another piece to our entertainment here, so we give more options for people to do.” Escape rooms are great for social

interaction, he says. “In this day and age, where everyone is so consumed with their electronics, this requires teamwork, and it requires a communal type of feeling,” he says. “It is a great opportunity to get together and laugh.” ESCAPE ROOM FORT MYERS Escape Room Fort Myers features three rooms: Game Master, where a twisted villain has locked you in a bathroom, Play Room, where you have to save bedtime and, the newest room, Exit Protocol, where you’re a CIA agent in Russia.


« teens (continued) Owner Adam Derosette says the rooms are leveled for play with the Play Room being the easiest and Game Master being the most difficult. “It is just fun, exciting family time,” Adam says. “It is just something different for families to do.” ESCAPE TACTICS All the rooms at Escape Tactics in Fort Myers are designed with stories set in the 1920s. There’s the Burlesque room, Bank Heist and, the hardest room, Speakeasy, which features scenes from the Prohibition era. “We want you to feel completely immersed when you come in,” says owner Marianna Blackwell. “We are all dressed in the 1920s. We say Al Cappone is our boss.” The best thing about an escape room, Marianna says, is the quality time participants spend together and the teamwork needed to be successful. “Overall it is just one of the most fun things to do,” she says. “Fort Myers has a lot of places to eat and drink, but there are not a lot of places for people to do things. It’s engaging. Instead of kids or adults looking down at their phone — phones are not permitted in our rooms — this is very, very engaging.” ESCAPE THE CAPE Cape Coral also has a place to escape. Escape the Cape features a crime scene from the 1970s, a jailbreak and the secrets of the Oval Office. Chase McFarlane, the owner, says it’s the mystery behind the games that’s so alluring. “I think the biggest thing is no one knows what it is, and when they do it, they are hooked on it,” he says. “It is such an adrenaline rush when they do it.” BRAINSTORM ESCAPE ROOM Bonita Springs has two escape rooms. Brainstorm Escape Room has the largest selection of rooms. Guests can get locked in a wine cellar, an ancient castle or a museum. Or choose to escape from a dinner party


or try the super hard Reporter room that only two groups have ever escaped from. A sixth room is now being created and will open soon. Taryaan Verde, of Brainstorm, says the game is especially popular with teens. “I think the best thing about doing escape rooms, especially for teenagers, is it really encourages team work,” he says. “In many rooms, one person will find something and another person will find something else. People who work together will get out.” TROPIC ESCAPE On the south side of Bonita Beach Road is Tropic Escape. It features a museum heist room, a room with a school finals theme and a new room with a shipwreck theme. “I think it’s a fun action adventure game for people to play,” says owner Austin Thomas. “It is challenging, and it gives people a chance to test their skills and have fun at the same time.” XTREME ESCAPE GAME We couldn’t find an escape room in Naples, but there’s one on Marco Island: Xtreme Escape Game. Owner Michelle Jordan says she has been trying to open one in Naples, but zoning regulations have made it difficult. Xtreme Escape has three rooms. Michelle recommends Lost in the Everglades for beginners. She says 36 percent of guests escape that room. Cell Block M is of medium difficulty, and City Morgue has only a 15 percent success rate. Michelle plans to open two additional rooms this summer. “They are something completely different to do,” she says of escape games in general. “They started out in Asia, and they are just now getting popular here. It is challenging, great for team building.” The first escape game was created by Takao Kato of Japan, who created the Real Escape Game around 2008. He wanted some adventure in his life and decided to create his own adventure story and invited people to join in. The game became popular in Asia and is now becoming popular in the United States.

IF YOU GO HeadPinz Entertainment Center • Where: 14513 Global Parkway, south Fort Myers • When: 4-9:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 3-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3-9:45 p.m. Sunday (will open at other times for special requests) • Cost: $20 • Details: 239302-2155 or headpinz.com Brainstorm Escape Room • Where: 24850 Old 41 Road, Suite 11, Bonita Springs • When: 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.9:30 p.m. Sunday • Cost: $30 for ages 9 and older, free for ages 8 and younger • Details: 239-676-8898 or brainstormescape.com Tropic Escape • Where: 4061 Bonita Beach Road, Suite 203, Bonita Springs • When: 4:30-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon-midnight Friday and Saturday, noon-11 p.m. Sunday • Cost: $27 • Details: 239319-5789 or tropicescaperoom.com Escape Tactics • Where: 1528 Carson St., Fort Myers • When: 3:30-11:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 3 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Friday, noon-midnight Saturday. • Cost: $24 on Wednesday, $18-$24 on Thursday (for a limited time), $28 FridaySunday. • Details: 239-226-4442 or escapetacticsflorida.com Escape Room Fort Myers • Where: 9280 College Parkway, south Fort Myers • When: 4-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m.-midnight Friday, noon-midnight Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday • Cost: $28.62 • Details: 239-461-7223 or escaperoomftmyers.com Escape the Cape • Where: 728 S.W. Pine island Road, Unit 16, Cape Coral • When: 5-9 p.m. MondayThursday, 5-11 p.m. Friday, 1-10:30 p.m. Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday • Cost: $28 • Details: 239-292-9431 or escapethecapefl.com Xtreme Escape Game • Where: 909 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island • When: 1-10 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, 1-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday (Monday and Tuesday available for parties of 12 or more or corporate team building events) • Cost: $29.50 • Details: 239272-3090 or xtremeescapegame.com

spotlight »



When you’re a parent, danger lurks around every corner — even the corners themselves are a threat. Safe Kids Southwest Florida makes it their mission to help parents prevent childhood injuries and death. BY RANDY K AMBIC


very year, some 4 million Florida children are injured seriously enough to need medical attention. As our population grows and new trends and products hit the market, the need for more protections and awareness increases, too. In response, Safe Kids Southwest Florida has been expanding both the scope and reach of its many child safety awareness programs. The nonprofit coalition of organizations and agencies, led by the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, leads the charge locally in teaching

parents how to prevent unintentional and accidental childhood injuries and accidents — the leading cause of death and disability of children and teens in the region. Two years ago this month, the group broadened its reach from serving Lee and Collier counties to also encompass Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. Since then, it has also added new partners and coalition members, including AAA Fort Myers and Safe Families for Children. “It’s all about partnerships,” says Sally Kreuscher, in her fifth year as coordinator of Safe Kids and the Child Advocacy Program. She emphasizes the

Safe Kids Day Have fun and learn about keeping kids safe 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 28 at Gulf Coast Town Center in San Carlos Park.


« spotlight (continued)


the group. Parents might believe they don’t need to be concerned with water safety until the summer. But here in Southwest Florida, water is a year-round concern and drownings start appearing much earlier than summer. “We often see drownings in April,” Sally says. Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that “drowning kills more children 1-4 years of age than anything else except birth defects and is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle crashes.” Attention also increases during National CPR/Automated External Defibrillator Week, June 1-7; and Child Passenger Safety Week, September 23-29. “We do different things every year,” Sally adds. “We try to keep it fresh.” Some of Safe Kids’ other current priorities include stressing how to prevent “heat stroke by not leaving kids in cars. It can happen to anyone. Also, bike safety with school about to let out is huge,” Sally says. In addition, the group provides resources and safety devices to families in need and advocates for child-safety legislation. As Sally and her husband, Karl, have two children, a 7-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son, it’s not surprising that she brings her work sensibilities home. “They follow the safety measures,” she says. “Their friends know they need to as well.” “We all like to think our home is totally safe, yet accidents will happen,” she says. “We do what we can to try to prevent the number and severity of them.” The organization provides extensive safety information online at safekidsswfl.org. PHOTO BY RANDY KAMBIC

importance of linking with agencies, entities and organizations in the added counties and working together to apply for grants, establishing principals as Safe Kids chairs and sharing information. “We can’t do it alone. The needs are different in different counties.” “With expansion, we are always looking to increase safety awareness and measures,” she says, citing recent initiatives that have come about due to the increased use of carts to take kids to and from school bus stops within communities, the popularity of trampolines and the danger in eating colorful laundry detergent pods. These newer scenarios for potential injuries join longstanding and always significant issues Sally Kreuscher like car seats, water, fires and burns, and cribs. The local Safe Kids group is a memto “become experts in installing seats ber of the Lee County Injury Prevenand using all other safety measures.” tion Coalition and Safe Kids WorldAnother class will be held May 14-17, wide. Coalition partners include the from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, at the Florida Department of Children and LaBelle Fire Department (register at Families, Florida Highway Safety and cert.safekids.org). Motor Vehicles, San Carlos Park Fire Originally from New Jersey, Sally District, Lee Health Child Advocacy investigated and supervised thousands Program, Pilot Club of Fort Myers, of cases in which children were injured Sheriff ’s Youth Activities League, the or died as a child protection investigaTrauma Center at Lee Memorial Hostion supervisor with the Lee County pital and Safe Routes to School. Department of Children and Families The organization plans to celfrom 2002 to 2012, during which time ebrate safety and provide information the agency became a member of the through fun games and activities at its coalition, then called Safe Kids Lee/ Safe Kids Day event Saturday, April Collier Counties. In 2013, she became 28, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Gulf coordinator for the Safe Kids coalition, Coast Town Center (in front of Faand the following year, she received the mous Dave’s) in San Carlos Park. Safe Lee County Injury Prevention CoaliKids branches around the world will tion Professional of the Year Award. be holding similar events. In 2015, Safe Kids Worldwide “Our bread and butter,” Sally says, awarded the local coalition with the are certification classes for in-home Excellence in Sports Safety Award for and daycare providers, fire departtheir efforts in bringing more athletic ments, hospital staffs and others trainers into the Lee County School to become child passenger safety District. technicians. The goal is for attendees Water safety is also a big issue for

arts » Gerald Caesar as “Simba” in The Lion King North American Tour.



National touring shows bring the quality of New York to the Fort Myers-Naples area. BY ANDREA STETSON


When Billy Harrigan Tighe stepped onto the stage at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in south Fort Myers to play the lead role in “Finding Neverland” this winter, people in the audience got to see the actor who starred in “Pippin” and “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway in New York and the West End in London. Patrons who went to Tampa last winter to see Amanda Jane Cooper portray the lead role of Glinda in “Wicked” saw an actress who now stars in the role on Broadway. Families who want to see Broadway quality shows never have to travel far for the experience. Now even one of the hottest shows, “Hamilton,” will be coming to town in 2020. “They are absolutely the official national touring shows,” says Scott Saxon, general manager at Mann Hall. “They are cast in New York by the same producers as the Broadway show. They use primarily Broadway actors.”


Buyi Zama as “Rafiki” in The Lion King North American Tour.

arts (continued) »


Gerald Ramsey as “Mufasa” in The Lion King North American Tour.


» Artis–Naples is at 5833 Pelican Bay Blvd, Naples. For a schedule, visit artisnaples.org/events or call 239-597-1900. » Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall is at 13350 FSW Parkway, Fort Myers. For a schedule, visit bbmannpah.com or call 239-481-4849.

Scott has seen many actors on the local stage who had just came from Broadway or were heading there. “When we opened the second national tour of ‘Wicked,’ Idina (Menzel) got hurt, and they flew our Elphaba to Broadway to perform up there. It is that kind of quality,” he says. Many times, producers will send an actor on a national tour to get the experience before Broadway, Scott explains. Other times, actors finish their contract in New York and want to continue to perform and see the country, so they join the touring company. “To the producers’ credit, they want the audience experience in Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale and Tampa to be as close as possible to the experience on Broadway,” Scott says. The sets and special effects are also very similar to what is seen on Broadway. Scott says that’s why it is a perfect way to get the quality without traveling far. “You get to see a Broadway show and sleep in your own bed at night,” he says. “It is the perfect night out.” While not all shows are appropriate for children, there are some each year aimed at families, such as “Finding Neverland,” which was at Mann Hall in January. The theater has hosted “The Little Mermaid,” “Matilda,” Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” “The Wizard of Oz” and the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes. “There are a lot of shows that are family friendly,” Scott says. Next year, “The Lion King” is returning to Mann Hall on April 3-21, 2019. “Everybody knows the story,” Scott says. “Everybody knows the music, and the visuals are just so spectacular that people are just transfixed. No matter where you look, there is something. For kids, most of them know the story and know the

music, so they are a little more taken in than at another show that they might not know. They feel a little bit like an insider. It is just such a great show for adults and for kids.” The next season at Mann Hall also brings “Les Misérables” and “Tap Dogs.” Artis–Naples also hosts national tours of Broadway shows. Next year brings old favorites “The Sound of Music” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” The theater will host more modern musicals, too, such as “Waitress,” “School of Rock” and “Les Misérables.” “We always try to bring in a mix of contemporary musicals and older beloved musicals,” says Ashley Mirakian, vice president of marketing and patron engagement at Artis–Naples. She, too, says the shows in Naples are New York quality. “It is those people who are leaving Broadway to go on the road, and they bring that same caliber to the touring production,” Ashley says. “When you read their bios, you see they have been on Broadway, and they are very experienced.” Officials at Mann Hall and Artis– Naples are extremely excited to bring Broadway’s most popular show to town in 2020 when the national tour of “Hamilton” arrives. “We are not alone,” Ashley says. “Every venue in North America wants to present ‘Hamilton,’ but we have a great relationship with the people on Broadway that produce the tours, so we advocated for our market. We have a million people in our market, and they want to see this show. We are very lucky to be presenting this tour in the second tier when they are on the road.” National tours of Broadway shows are also regularly performed in Fort Lauderdale at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and in Tampa at the David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts.


« cover story


en-year-old Nalin Isme knows what he wants to be when he grows up: a successful artist. And why not? He already is. The Pinewoods Elementary School fourthgrader has earned eight awards in the Estero Fine Art Show youth art competitions, and another at the companion Boca Raton Fine Art Show. Nalin first entered his work in 2013, when he was 5 years old, says his mother, Nancy Isme. He broke into the crayons and computer the summer before starting kindergarten, seeking out inspiring and instructional YouTube videos. His first foray into instruction was Mr. P Studios, with “Mr. P” showing the step-by-step process for creating “scribble art” — drawing, in freehand, a continuous, open-loop line encompassing most of the page. The young artist then carefully colors in the shapes without the colors touching. Nancy remembers retiring for a nap one afternoon, not knowing that Nalin was studiously following Mr. P’s instructions. She awoke to Nalin presenting his finished product. “I was very impressed,” she recalls. At right, Nalin Isme holds his first foray into art, a piece where he used the scribble art technique. On this page, Nalin’s later works reflect his inspirations, such as African masks and artists like Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock and Jean-Michel Basquiat. 36 » APRIL 2018 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM


« cover story (continued)

Realizing Nalin’s heightened interest, Nancy decided to upgrade his supplies. She dug into garage boxes to find oils and pastels she’d had when she studied fashion design and merchandising. “Art supplies are not cheap. I wanted to give him something better but didn’t want to waste anything,” she says. “He was only 5 — and all kids love art.” Nalin had another favorite YouTube channel, Art for Kids, which features tutorials taught by a father-and-son team with projects geared for ages 5 to 8 and 8 and older. Each segment shows how to draw a specific animal, plant and other subject, such the PyeongChang Winter Olympics mascot, cartoon people, food and holiday landscapes. He submitted one of his works with a fall

theme to Art for Kids’ first competition when he was 6 years old — and won first place. He was awarded with a shipment of art supplies. “I recorded him opening the supplies, so they could see his response to receiving that award,” Nancy says. There were watercolors, a palette, 160 crayons, paper, sharpeners and more. “YouTube was his first teacher,” Nancy says, though many others have followed. On Instagram, Nalin follows and communicates with Naples artist and retired school librarian Alex Wilkinson, who specializes in whimsical Zentangles, in addition to a California tattoo artist who also creates on grocery bags and Russell Powell, an art

teacher known for his hand-stamping technique. Nalin’s third-grade art teacher “loved challenging Nalin and gave him art homework to do on different techniques, such as watercolor and salt,” Nancy says. “She made art his favorite subject that year.”

The artist’s process Nalin’s two main mediums are acrylics and oil pastels. “When I’m painting, I feel expressive, and I feel relaxed. It’s fun to me all the time,” he says. “It’s very exciting. I can’t wait to see what I can get out of it when it’s done.” He describes his style as “abstract and imaginative,” and emphasizes color

Nalin works mostly in acrylics and oil pastels. And he’s not deterred when things go wrong. The Cat in the Hat piece at right is a prime example. When the piece was nearly done, his little sister decided to add her own touch of random scribbles. Instead of tossing it out, Nalin added complementing colors and shapes to turn it into a work of art again.


The Lee County Alliance for the Arts offers these tips for encouraging children in the arts: » Find inexpensive art materials to use. In addition to basic materials, like paper, crayons, markers, washable paints and glue, find items around the house that kids can use to supplement their art projects. Items such as paper towel tubes, scrap paper, shoe boxes, macaroni, sponges and paper plates can be useful for children to think outside the box. » Look for art all around you. Point out colors and shapes in nature, such as the shapes of trees and clouds. » Do art projects with your child. This will encourage them to continue. » Encourage your child to talk about their creations. Use positive comments about their choices. This will stimulate your child to discuss the work.

» Display the art around the house. This will give a sense of pride to your child.

» Use wordless picture books to jumpstart the creative brain. Ask

your child to come up with their own conclusion about the story. » Visit art museums. Play investigator and find things to look for on your visit. Encourage critical thinking in your little one by asking your child to discuss what they observe. Suggest creating a story, drawing or painting as a response to what they experience.

» Take your child to a concert, play or dance performance. The performing arts stimulate the creative brain. Discuss the performance and point out images, sounds and ideas about the performance. Have your child create their own performance or art project about their favorite part of the performance. » Enroll your child in an art class. This will give your child the opportunity to learn from art teachers and work with other children who are interested in art.


« cover story (continued) in all his artwork. His mother sits with him to show him famous artists and discuss their signature style and techniques, online and in books checked out of the library. He likes the contorted and imaginative faces of Pablo Picasso, JeanMichel Basquiat and African masks. They’ve surveyed the works of Vincent van Gogh and Andy Warhol. “He looks to me for guidance,” Nancy says. Nalin (pronounced nah-lynn) is a big fan of abstract expressionist splatterpainter Jackson Pollock — a medium that instigated the relocation of Nalin’s art studio from his bedroom to the garage after paint blobs dripped onto walls and floors, and into the hallway. His art table was moved to the kitchen, then to the garage. It doesn’t help that his younger brother, Ammar, 7, and sister, Nella, 4, want to dabble sometimes, too. Nalin says he paints about twice a week and describes his process like this: “I go for a few hours, then I stop to let it dry. I go outside with the basketball hoop, and I’ll come back and then keep going more on top of it. I’ll stop when it needs to dry. I’ll come back the next day and see if it needs more or if it’s done.” Sometimes, Nella paints or rollers a solid background, so it’s ready for Nalin’s imagination. “She wants to be his little helper,” Nancy says.

Awards and acknowledgements Patty Narozny is owner and operator of Hot Works fine art and fine crafts shows, which has produced the biannual Estero Fine Art Show for 11 years. (It also produces the Boca Raton show and two others outside of the state). The show typically features the work of 100 to 150 artists and craftspeople, and it has been named in the Top 100 juried fine art and craft shows by Sunshine Artist magazine for the last three years. The Institute for the Arts and Education is Hot Works’ associated nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting community enrichment through art for all age groups. It has a special emphasis on encouraging young artists to display their work and have their work judged by a professional artist as part of “budding artist” and youth competitions for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Narozny sends out a call to young artists through local art teachers, and the works of 50 to 100 students are generally exhibited throughout the two-day show and judged; they do not need to be framed. Winners are chosen “based on the same criteria as the professional artists in the show — originality and

technical execution,” Narozny explains. Before awards are announced, Narozny says, a couple of messages are delivered to the young competitors. One: Art is subjective. Two: “Even the best artists don’t get into all of the art shows they want nor do they win awards in every show.” From manually filling out the show application to the day of the judging is an educational experience. The top youth award is $100, and there are three $50 awards for excellence. A main objective, she says, is “to expose students to the entrepreneurial opportunities of doing art shows for a living.” Nalin’s winnings have gone toward new art supplies and into savings. One year, he purchased his adjustable art table. Participating in the shows and being officially recognized for his creative efforts have buoyed his outlook. And even though Nalin has other interests, such as creating books for his school’s Author’s Parade, he has his eyes on a bigger prize. “I like art in my room and house. I want the opportunity for other people to see my art in their house and their room,” he says. His mother phrases it slightly differently: “He wants to be an artist that’s well-known worldwide that people study. He wants to be famous like Picasso.”

At left is Nalin’s favorite piece, an abstract of a giraffe. In the center, Nalin experiments with pastels on brown paper bag. At right, Nalin adds glitter to his media.


family album »

Baby Leprechaun races » Parents line up their babies at the race start line during the Baby Leprechaun Races at Miromar Outlets in Estero on March 11. Levi Rottenberg won gold by just a few seconds. Branson Soca took second. Photos by Dorthy Edwards

STRIDES FOR EDUCATION » The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools held its seventh annual Strides for Education 5K Run on February 3 on Florida SouthWestern State College’s Lee Campus. More than $30,000 was raised for scholarships. Photo courtesy of The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools

Addie Conforti, 11 months

Above: Adrian Lopez Jr., 11 months SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » APRIL 2018 » 41

« family album

BUDDY DAY » More than 100 second-graders from four Immokalee elementary schools learned about coastal wildlife and habitat

at Guadalupe Center’s 26th annual Buddy Day on February 17. Each student was paired with an adult volunteer to go through activity stations, including beach exploration, birding, games and crafts. Photos courtesy of Tony Zollo

GOING FOR GOLD » Child Care of Southwest Florida and Gartner hosted the United Winter Olympics on February 7 at the Community Children’s Center in Lehigh Acres. Students from the center and from the P.A. Geraci Child Development Center in Dunbar participated in the Winter Olympics-style field day. More than 40 Gartner employees volunteered as coaches for the United Way Day of Caring. Clockwise from above: Jon Cleveland and Sarai Hanson • Katrina Wilson and Margaret Hamilton • Jenn Myers and Xianna Thomas • Myella Dorvall and Adam Wardell. Photos special to SWFL Parent & Child


SWEET BABIES » Mom Selamawit

Abraha and her husband, Dr. Yeneneh Desta, mark the 2,500th pregnancy at Dr. Craig R. Sweet’s practice, Specialists in Reproductive Medicine & Surgery in Fort Myers. The babies are, from the top, ZeRaguel, Wengel and Amen. Dr. Sweet and his staff invite families from all 2,500 pregnancies to join the practice on Sweet’s Dream A Baby team in the March for Babies on April 28, a major fundraiser for the March of Dimes. Photo by Red Door Photography/special to SWFL Parent & Child


« family album

READY TO RIDE » With support from Grampy’s Charities and Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, Robbie’s Riders presents five adaptive tricycles, worth nearly $6,000, to Naples children through its Freedom Program at the bank’s McGregor branch in Fort Myers in February. Photo special to SWFL Parent & Child

GOLDEN HALO » Four Fort Myers Christian School teachers were selected as Golden Halo finalists during a surprise visit by the

Christian Chamber of Southwest Florida on March 6. The chamber awards recognize inspiring Christian teachers. From left, second grade teacher Shellee Harper, kindergarten teacher Jo Weber, third grade teacher Naomi Welborn and first grade teacher Amber Davis. The Golden Halo Awards celebration takes place Friday, April 20 at St. Leo’s Parish Life Center in Bonita Springs.


BECOMING ARTISTS » Naples artist Marcus Zotter visited the A Step Up development center at Immokalee High school to collaborate with the children for Big Impressions by Little Artists, a fundraiser for Collier Child Care Resources Inc. Photos courtesy of Collier Child Care Resources Inc.

Send Us Your Snapshots Send your images with a brief description and names of the people in them to editor@ swflparentchild.com


McDonagh and Elliott Yancon attend a single-site Parade of Homes at Naples Reserve in February. Photo special to SWFL Parent & Child


« family album

STUDENT PROTEST » Cape Coral High School was one of several Southwest Florida schools that participated in a student walkout February 21 in support of Parkland students lobbying legislators in Tallahassee. Photo by Ricardo Rolon

PEACE RUN » Students from Ida Baker High, Gulf Elementary and Gulf

Middle schools participated in the Sri Chinmoy Oneness Home Peace Run on March 6. The international torch relay aims to spread a message of world peace. It started here in Florida and from here continued to California and Mexico. Photo special to SWFL Parent & Child


READING FESTIVAL » Hailey Livingston, 6, met Lexi at the SWFL Parent & Child booth during the Southwest Florida Reading Festival on March 3 at the Fort Myers Regional Library. Lexi is the star of “Lexi Lop and the Best Library Book Ever” by Andrea Stetson, a contributor to the magazine. Photo by Pamela Hayford

travel »

Blue Springs




ot only is Florida nearly surrounded by water as a peninsula, but the state is fortunate to have crisp, natural rivers flowing through its interior ecosystems. This past summer when my family ventured to Gainesville for a gymnastics camp with our then 12-year-old daughter, my husband wanted to take a few days to explore that area of the state, as it’s so diverse and different from

the beach-driven area of Fort Myers. Not only did we traverse through the treetops on zip lines above the canyons outside of Ocala, but we floated down Rainbow River via inflatable tubes. Tubing in Florida is serene — a fabulous way for families to have some outdoor fun while enjoying nature. Plus, in the summer, it easily beats the extreme Florida heat, as these rivers stay cool and refreshing year-round. STORY BY JENNIFER THOMAS


» travel (continued) We selected Rainbow River, because we had heard great things about the experience from friends who had also been tubing and due to its proximity to Ocala. The one tip we received was to arrive early, because the parking lot tends to fill up quickly, especially on weekends. On our visit, we rented tubes at the park. A round-trip shuttle was part of the rental package. However, be sure to check the park’s website or call ahead, as rental availability can change. Cost is generally $5 to $20, depending on the type of raft you rent, plus park entrance fee and, depending on the park, a tram fee. Some families bring their own tubes and pumps to inflate them.

In Florida, there are five state parks that offer tubing. “Tubing is unique in each of our parks,” says Florida Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson Jason Mahon. Tubing on Rainbow River is a oneof-a-kind opportunity to experience “real” Florida, says Rainbow Springs State Park Manager Larry Steed. “It’s an opportunity to see the outdoors from a unique perspective and allows three hours of family bonding while recreating on the Rainbow River,” he says. “First-timers should be cognizant of weather conditions that can rapidly change during your three-hour trip. The water is cold, and smaller children as well as elderly visitors can become

chilled very quickly. Sunscreen is recommended. Insect repellant is suggested.” Larry recommends children be at least 5 years old due to the length of the tubing trip and the water temperature. He also advises tubers to be aware of any local ordinances that regulate tubing on the river. “It is also very important to remember this is not a man-made, controlled environment. It is a natural, wild ecosystem,” Larry adds. Fort Myers resident and mother to three boys Amy Magsig went tubing at Ichetucknee Springs State Park in northern Florida. “It is truly beautiful! Trees canopy the edges of the winding river, and



Ichetucknee Springs

Ichetucknee Springs


Rainbow Springs

you can see a variety of birds and small creatures, if you’re watching,” Amy says. “I love to be in the outdoors with my family, away from distractions and busyness. Tubing in Florida provided just that for my boys and me — a fun outdoor activity that was breathtakingly scenic. At times, we all talked and laughed noisily as we floated along the currents. Other times, we were all completely silent looking up at the sky and trees along the shore as we drifted along peacefully.” One thing Amy says she was surprised by was the water’s chilly temperature, about 72 degrees yearround. “Some would describe it as refreshing,” she says. “Others, like me, are pulling out the wetsuits.” Amy recommends renting tubes, because it is so low-maintenance.

“There are several places to rent already inflated tubes of all shapes and sizes all along the roads leading to up to the park entrance, as well as at the park itself. You can even rent double tubes or tubes with bottoms to keep your legs out of the water,” she says. “The rental places are very helpful and will tie multiple tubes to the top of your car. You don’t have to worry about returning the tubes. They meet you at the tubing exit. Tying all the tubes together can help you all float along at the same pace, which is great for conversation.” One other tip from Amy is to be sure to eat before you go, because there is no food or drink on the river to keep the river clean, although there is a concession stand at Ichetucknee. “We are looking forward to our next tubing adventure,” she says.

Tubing at Florida State Parks To get details on each park, visit floridastateparks.org. » Blackwater River State Park, 7720 Deaton Bridge Road, Milton (near Pensacola); 850-983-5363 » Blue Spring State Park, 2100 W. French Ave., Orange City (north of Orlando); 386-775-3663 » Ichetucknee Springs State Park, 12087 S.W. U.S. Highway 27, Fort White (northeast of Gainesville); 386497-4690 » Madison Blue Spring State Park, 8300 N.E. State Road 6, Lee (near I-75 and the Florida-Georgia state line); 850971-5003 » Rainbow Springs State Park, 19158 S.W. 81st Place Road, Dunnellon (near Ocala); 352-465-8555


« around town

Reach for DISNEY



Disney On Ice is back with its “Reach for the Stars” collection of beloved Disney stories set to music and ice skating. The production features worldclass skaters, lavish costumes and enchanting music. Shows are 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, April 13; 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday, April 14, and 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday, April 15. Tickets are $20. For tickets or information, call 800-745-3000, go to disneyonice.com or visit the Germain Arena box office, 11000 Everblades Parkway, Estero.

Explore history See the ships that sailed the ocean blue in 1492. Replicas of Christopher Columbus’ ships, the Pinta and the Nina, arrive in Punta Gorda on Thursday, April 5 at Fishermen’s Village, 1200 W. Retta Esplanade. They’ll be there for tours April 6 until it leaves the morning of April 16 for Jupiter. Self-guided tours are $8.50 for adults, $6.50 for ages 5-16, free for ages 4 and younger. The ships are open to the public 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. No reservations necessary. For more information, visit ninapinta.org.

Celebrate Earth Day

Having a bad day? Alexander is having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. In this adaptation of the popular book “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” on stage April 20-May 18 at the Broadway Palm in Fort Myers, author Judith Viorst sets the book to music. Tickets are $19 for all ages and include lunch and the show. Times are 10:30 a.m. lunch, 11:30 a.m. show April 20, 24, 26, 27 and May 2, 4, 10, 11, 18, and noon lunch and 1 p.m. show April 21, 29 and May 6 and 12. Get details at broadwaypalm.com.

The natural environment plays a very big part in the success of Southwest Florida’s economy. Celebrate our environment at the Earth Day Festival, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 21 at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in Naples. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children and free for Conservancy members. A basic membership for a family of two adults and up to four children is $65 (certainly a money-saver if you visit more than once). The Earth Day Festival features live music, festival foods, exhibits, live animal programs, boat rides, guest speakers, crafts and more. The Conservancy is at 1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples. Get details at 239-262-0304 or conservancy.org.


calendar » Thursday, April 5 Illusionist Rick Thomas » 8 p.m. Southwest Florida Event Center, 11515 Bonita Beach Road S.E., Bonita Springs. $38$68. Rick Thomas performs magic around the world. 239-2459910. swfleventcenter.com Nina and the Pinta » April 5-15. Fishermen’s Village, 1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda. Replicas of Christopher Columbus’ ships, the Pinta and the Nina, arrive Thursday, April 5. Tours will be given April 6-15. The ships leave the morning of April 16. Self-guided tours are $8.50 for adults, $6.50 for ages 5-16, free for ages 4 and younger. The ships are open to the public 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. ninapinta.org

Friday, April 6 Stars on Ice » 7:30 p.m. Germain Arena, 11000 Everblades Parkway, Estero. $28-$153 for tickets; $15 for parking. See some of the best U.S. figure skaters in an all-new Stars on Ice show, including Nathan Chen, Ashley Wagner, Maia and Alex Shibutani. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. germainarena.com

Saturday, April 7 30th Cape Coral Kiwanis Fishing Derby » 8:30-11 a.m. Cape Coral Yacht Club, 5819 Driftwood Parkway, Cape Coral. For ages 5-15. Limited to the first 300 kids. Check in at 8:30 a.m. All participants receive a rod, reel and bait. Trophies will be awarded. Door prizes. Grand prize is a $400 half-day fishing charter with Capt. Russ Walker. 239-848-8844. Aviation Day 2018 » 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Page Field Airport, 4700 Terminal Drive, Fort Myers. Free parking and admission. For all ages. Parking available off North Airport Road and U.S. 41 with free shuttle bus. Features antique, experimental and general aviation aircraft, airplane and helicopter rides (for a fee), airport police and fire department demonstrations, aviation-themed shopping, food and free children’s activities, including a slide, bounce houses, clowns and face painting. Help the community by bringing a non-perishable food item for The Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida. Cape Coral Touch a Truck » 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Lafayette Street between Cape Coral and Vincennes streets. Kids of all ages can explore and ask questions about their favorite vehicles, including fire-rescue, ambulance, police motorcycles and a Forestry swamp buggy. Horn-free hour is 9-10 a.m. Free admission. The event was inspired by Ethan, a 6-year-old, truckloving boy who is affected by Fragile X syndrome. Net proceeds benefit Fragile X awareness and public education. facebook. com/capecoraltouchatruck

Mommy and Me Yoga » 9-10 a.m. Healthy Life Center at Coconut Point, 23190 Fashion Drive, Estero. Yoga instructor Nicole Traum, of Lee Health Wellness Center, leads a free community mommy-and-me yoga session for ages 3 and younger. RSVP to 239-495-4475. Bring a yoga mat. Movement & Breath for Labor » 3-4:30 p.m. The Family Birth Center of Naples, 2930 Immokalee Road, Suite 2, Naples. Join Cheryl Bernardi with LifeBehold to prepare your mind and body for birth through movement and breathing exercises. $25 in advance, $30 at the door. 239-248-7931. lifebehold.com NephCure Walk » 10 a.m. Jaycee Park, 4125 S.E. 20th Place, Cape Coral. Free, donations accepted. Family fun and music. The NephCure program provides support for people touched by Nephrotic Syndrome and FSGS. Walk starts at 11 a.m. Promising Pathways National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorder » 8 a.m.-3:15 p.m. Florida Gulf Coast University, 10501 FGCU Blvd. S., Fort Myers. Keynote speaker is Dr. Sarah Jane Spence, assistant in neurology and co-director of the Autism Spectrum Center. Registration at 8 a.m. Vendor exhibits open at 9 a.m. fgcu.edu/events/promisingpathways Science Saturday » 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Imag History & Science Center, 2000 Cranford Ave., Fort Myers. Included in admission. Science Saturday occurs the first Saturday of every month, and History Saturday occurs on the third Saturday. Interactive experiences are stationed throughout the center. Youth Golf Night » 5:30-7:30 p.m. Alico Family Golf, 16300 Lee Road, south Fort Myers. Free. Food and fun begins at 5:30 p.m. Clinic at 6:15 p.m. Short course scramble at 6:45 p.m. alicofamilygolf.com

Sunday, April 8 BBQ, Bands & Brew » 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Centennial Park, 2000 W. First St., Fort Myers. Lee BIA Builders Care fundraiser to help elderly, disabled and economically disadvantaged homeowners with repairs. Features live music, barbecue, vendors and activities for children. $10 for adults, free for ages 12 and younger. 239-938-0056. Taste of the Cape » Noon-6 p.m. Four Freedoms Park, 4818 Tarpon Court, Cape Coral. Sample food from more than 20 restaurants, craft beers, margaritas and wine. Live music.

Charter Authority Rally » 2-8 p.m. German American Club of Cape Coral, 2101 Pine Island Road S.W., Cape Coral. A fundraiser for Cape Coral Charter Authority Schools and Charter Authority Foundation. A day of activities, prizes, rides, games, rock wall, mechanical bull, bounce houses and more, plus vendors, live music (including Jason Bonham from Thunderbear) and entertainment. Free admission and parking. Wristbands for rides and games are $10 in advance, $20 at the event. capecharterfoundation.org

Tuesday, April 10

India Fest 2018 » 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Estero Recreation Center, 9200 Corkscrew Road, Estero. $5 per person. Free parking. Enjoy Indian food, dance, music, handicrafts and clothing. Live entertainment on an outdoor stage throughout the day with covered, shaded seating. iafortmyers.org

Gopher Tortoise Day » 10-11:30 a.m. Koreshan State Park, 3800 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Free with park admission, $2-$5. A talk by park naturalist Pamela Jones-Morton will be followed by a walk through the park to see gopher tortoises. 239-9920311. floridastateparks.org/koreshan


« calendar Wednesday, April 11 “Elf Jr.” » 6:30 p.m. April 11-13. Ida Baker High School Auditorium, 3500 Agualinda Blvd., Cape Coral. Oasis Middle School presents “Elf Jr.” Tickets can be purchased at the door. General admission is $5. VIP seating is $8.

Friday, April 13 Disney On Ice: Reach for the Stars » April 13-15. Germain Arena, 11000 Everblades Parkway, Estero. $25$105 for tickets; parking is $10. Disney On Ice returns with “Reach for the Stars,” a show that incorporates a wide variety of favorite characters. Shows are 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, April 13; 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday, April 14, and 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday, April 15. 800-745-3000. germainarena.com “Freckleface Strawberry” » April 13-15. Alliance for the Arts, 10091 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. With the help of her schoolmates, including a talented ballerina, a cutie jock, a charming ditz and a totally kooky teacher, Freckleface learns that everyone is different — and that’s what makes everyone special. Shows are 8 p.m. April 13, 3 and 8 p.m. April 14 and 3 p.m. April 15. Tickets are $10$20. 239-939-2787. artinlee.org

Saturday, April 14 Family Fun Day » 9 a.m.-2 p.m. CREW Cypress Dome Trails, 3980 Corkscrew Road, Immokalee. 15 minutes east of I-75 near the Lee-Collier county line. Activities include nature-related crafts, geocaching, learning about birds and the wildlife that lives at CREW. Naturalists will lead small groups on guided walks. Registration encouraged. $5 per family for nonmembers, free for members. You’re welcome to bring lunch and eat under the pavilion. There’s no running water at the site. Portable bathrooms are available. crewtrust.org

Science Saturday » 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Join Mr. Glen, his Science & Engineering team and the Sylvan Learning Center for interactive science projects. miromaroutlets.com SoCo Second Saturday Art Crawl » 6-10 p.m. Royal Palm Square, 1400 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers. Explore the SoCo arts district from the corner of McGregor and Colonial boulevards, driving east and turning south on Summerlin Road, then making a right turn on Royal Palm Boulevard and finally meeting on McGregor again. KidzAct Presents “The Taming of the Shrew” » 11 a.m. April 14 and 6 p.m. April 15. Sugden Regional Park, 4284 Avalon Drive, Naples. $10. The Naples Players KidzAct presents this Shakespeare classic. 239-263-7990. naplesplayers.org Walk the Talk for Epilepsy » 9 a.m. North Collier Regional Park, 15000 Livingston Road, Naples. Features the walk, familyfriendly activities, live entertainment, stilt walking and a kids’ zone. Through April 12, registration is $25 for adults, $15 for children; day-of is $35 for adults, $20 for children. The Epilepsy Foundation of Florida hosts the event to raise awareness and funds to benefit Floridians impacted by epilepsy. Registration opens at 8 a.m.; the walk is at 9 a.m. efof.org/walkthetalk

Monday, April 16 Blue Zones Celebrates National Walking Day » 6 p.m. Alico Arena, Florida Gulf Coast University, 12181 FGCU Lake Parkway, Estero. Blue Zones Project Founder and New York Times-bestselling author Dan Buettner shares lessons from the world’s healthiest, happiest people. Afterward, join in a walk around campus and sample plant-based foods. Doors open at 5 p.m. Free, but reservations requested at wellbeingswfl.eventbrite.com.

Tuesday, April 17 Breastfeeding Class » 6:30-8:30 p.m. The Family Birth Center of Naples, 2930 Immokalee Road, Suite 2, Naples. Learn how to successfully breastfeed your newborn baby, use breast pumps and transition to returning to work while breastfeeding. 239-594-0400. For fee and registration, click on “classes” at naplesbirthcenter.com or email FBCNaples@gmail.com. “Little Mermaid Jr.” » 6:30 p.m. April 17-18. Cultural Park Theater, 528 Cultural Park Blvd., Cape Coral. Melody Lane Performing Arts Center presents this family-friendly event. Tickets can be purchased at Melody Lane, 75 Mid Cape Terrace, Unit 1, Cape Coral. Tickets are $5 for students, $8 for adults in advance or $7 and $10 at the door. melodylanepac.com or culturalparktheater.com

Wednesday, April 18

“Pig the Star” Storytime » 11 a.m. Barnes & Noble at Coconut Point, 23130 Fashion Drive, Estero. Pig does everything he can to be the star of a photo shoot. When the photographer starts to favor his friend, Pig tries everything to steal back the show. Activities to follow.


Moms Appreciation Day » 10 a.m.-noon. Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero. In WINK Playland. Moms receive a coupon for a free drink and treat from le macaron french pastries when bringing the kids for crafts. miromaroutlets.com Nutrition Class » 7-8:30 p.m. The Family Birth Center of Naples, 2930 Immokalee Road, Suite 2, Naples. Nutrition for pregnancy, lactation, postpartum and family. 239-594-0400. Register with FBCNaples@gmail.com.

calendar » Thursday, April 19 PalmArt Playshop » 6 p.m. Alliance for the Arts, 10091 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. Learn how to make beautiful, useful and durable stuff using natural and recycled materials that might be in your own backyard. This month, create seed tape using native wildflowers, plus typing and drawing on palm paper. On May 17, make orchid nests for mom using royal palm fronds. All materials provided, but you may bring supplies too. $20 for members, $25 for nonmembers. Register at 239-939-2787 or artinlee.org

Friday, April 20 “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” » April 20May 18. Broadway Palm, 1380 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers. The children’s classic is set to music in this adaptation. $19 for all ages includes lunch and show. Times are 10:30 a.m. lunch, 11:30 a.m. show April 20, 24, 26, 27 and May 2, 4, 10, 11, 18, and noon lunch and 1 p.m. show April 21, 29 and May 6 and 12. 239-2784422. broadwaypalm.com. Earth Day BOGO » 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Rookery Bay NERR and Environmental Learning Center, 300 Tower Road, Naples. Buy one, get one free admission. rookerybay.org Music Walk » 6-10 p.m. Fort Myers River District, 1400 Jackson St., Fort Myers. From jazz and blues to rock ‘n’ roll, many genres can be heard and vary each month. Free admission. “Spamalot School Edition” » April 20-22. Alliance for the Arts, 10091 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. The tale of a kingdom divided, England in 932 A.D. But one man had a vision and gathered Knights together in a Holy Quest: Arthur, King of the Britons. Shows are 8 p.m. April 20, 3 and 8 p.m. April 21 and 3 p.m. April 22. Tickets are $10-$20. 239939-2787. artinlee.org

Saturday, April 21 Annual Crawfish Boil » 4 p.m. Walker’s Hideaway Marina of Naples, 475 North Road, Naples. Fundraiser for The Boys & Girls Club of Collier County. $100 for adults, $25 ages 4-12, free for ages 3 and younger. Includes all Hurricane Drinks, selected beer and wine and a full spread of crawfish with all the fixings. Also live bands and DJ entertainment. Children may participate in pool games and more.

SUMMER CAMPS Looking for a day camp this summer? Here’s a sampling of what’s in Southwest Florida:

Alliance for the Arts » The Summer Arts Camp lets children in grades 1-6 explore visual and performing arts while the Musical Theatre Intensive Camp puts campers in grades 7-12 to work with Broadway Palm’s resident choreographer and actors from current shows. 239939-2787 or artinlee.org/summercamp The Art Express » This organization provides numerous art camps throughout the summer, including camps that focus on painting, weaving, edible art, cartooning, drawing, masks, puppets, handbells, paper-mache, upcycled art and more. The camps take place at Fleischmann Park Community Center, 239-213-3020, and the Norris Center in Naples, 239-213-3058. theartexpress.net CEO Academy » Teens learn what it takes to become a successful business leader in this Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida summer camp, June 4-8. FGCU Emergent Technologies Institute, 16301 Innovation Lane, Fort Myers. 239-225-2590. jaswfl.org Everglades Wonder Gardens Summer Camp » Animal and botanical learning for kids at the Everglades Wonder Gardens in Bonita Springs. 239992-2591. evergladeswondergardens. com/summer-camps Get U Cooking Summer Camp » This 2-hour class for ages 7-13 covers a range of cooking topics. Camps run weekly June 11-29. $160 per week; call in advance to see if day-to-day spots are open (after May 24). getucooking.com Gulfshore Playhouse Summer Programs » There are programs for ages 6-18. “The Little Mermaid Jr.” for ages 6-14 runs June 11-29. The Teen Conservatory runs July 9-August 3. Other one-week programs run June 4-July 13. 239-261-7529, ext. 207. apm.activecommunities.com/naplesrec/ Home or gulfshoreplayhouse.org FGCU Mathletes Summer Camp » A program for bright and talented middle school students interested in investigating concepts in mathematics

that are not usually introduced at the middle school level. The program focuses on improving problem solving abilities, strengthening communication skills and developing collaboration and leadership skills. Participants will meet professionals in the field of mathematics, computer science, chemistry and engineering. Florida Gulf Coast University. www2.fgcu.edu/ events/Mathletes Kontrol Room Camp » Survivor-style game camps, karate and fitness all summer. $85 per week for 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., $95 per week for 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Kontrol Room Martial Arts & Fitness in Cape Coral. 239-826-9051. krfitcenter.com SFCA Summer Camps » Football, cheerleading, coed basketball, coed soccer, girls’ volleyball, boys’ wrestling and boys’ baseball. Southwest Florida Christian Academy, 3750 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers. 239-936-8865. swfca.com Summer Youth Golf Program » A structured entertaining and educational program combining PGA instruction and fitness training with purpose and performance-based coaching. Alico Family Golf, 16300 Lee Road, Fort Myers. 239-334-4653. alicofamilygolf. com/summercamp2018 Super Science and Amazing Art S.T.E.A.M. Camps » Join a Super Scientist each week this summer at three locations for STEAM summer camp programs, such as Mission to Mars, Kitchen Chemistry, Engineering Innovation, Digital Media Academy, Future Tech and Maker Space and more. Locations: The Village School of Naples, The Norris Center in Naples and Four Freedoms Park in Cape Coral. TVS: 407-466-0287, supersciencefl.com; NC: 239-213-3058, naplesgov.com; FFP: 239-574-0804, capecoral.net Swift Nature Camp » An overnight camp filled with animals, water and land activities and new friends; 92 percent of its campers return each summer. For ages 6-15. Minong, Wisconsin. 630654-8036. swiftnaturecamp.com

Add Your Camp: If you have a camp you’d like added to this list, email the information in the following format to editor@swflparentchild. com: Name of Camp. One sentence description. Location. Phone number and website where readers can get more information.


« calendar Babysitting Course » 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Four Freedoms Park, 4818 Tarpon Court, Cape Coral. $40 for residents, $48 for nonresidents. For ages 11-16. Registration required. The Child and Babysitting Safety program is an American Safety and Health Institute program designed for this age. Bring lunch. Cape Coral Cardboard Boat Regatta » 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Four Freedoms Park, 4818 Tarpon Court, Cape Coral. Free. Everyone is invited to cheer for their favorite boat as it navigates (or sinks) along the race course. Fun for all ages. Colors of the Rainbow » 4 p.m. Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero. In the Miromar Design Center. Finalists from the Dancing Classrooms Exhibitions compete in this culminating event. miromaroutlets.com Date Night » 6-10 p.m. Four Freedoms Park, 4818 Tarpon Court, Cape Coral. The city hosts an adults-only movie in the park with live music (6-8 p.m.), craft beer, wine and food trucks. “The Big Sick” starts at 8:15 p.m. Child care is available in the recreation center 6 to 10 p.m. for $15 per child (ages 4-12). Register at 239574-0804; no walk-ins. The kids will get their own movie night with activities, pizza and popcorn. capeparks.com Earth Day Discovery Days » 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, 34725 W. Boundary Road, Clewiston. The Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum hosts this Earth Day event for all ages. Take a boardwalk tour, meet tribe member Daniel Tommie in his hunting camp and try your hand at archery. Included with regular admission, which is $10 for adults, $7.50 for students 18 and younger or with college ID, free for ages 4 and younger, or $30 for a family of two adults and up to four children ages 5-18. 863-902-1113. ahtahthiki.com/programs Earth Day Festival » 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Conservancy of Southwest Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples. Celebrate the environment with music, festival foods, exhibits, live animal programs, boat rides, guest speakers, crafts and more. $10 for adults, $5 for children, free for members. 239-262-0304. conservancy.org Healthy Kids Day » 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Greater Naples YMCA, 5450 YMCA Road, Naples. Free. An initiative designed to inspire all youth, parents and caregivers, regardless of membership status, to get active and make healthy choices. Family activities, games, arts and crafts, wellness classes and more. 239-963-3771. greaternaplesymca.org/hkd.html “Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth” Storytime » 11 a.m. Barnes & Noble at Coconut Point, 23130 Fashion Drive, Estero. Filled with gentle humor and insight, Oliver Jeffers’ New York Times bestselling “Here We Are” is a poignant celebration of life on Earth. Activities to follow. Junior Ranger Program » 10-11 a.m. Koreshan State Park, 3800 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Free with park admission. Meet in the picnic area to learn about the creatures and critters that live in this state park and the evidence they leave behind. Ideal for ages 6-12. Parental presence required. Reservations requested. 239-992-0311. Reeling for Autism » 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Nervous Nellie’s, 1131 First St., Fort Myers Beach. A fishing tournament to raise awareness and acceptance on behalf of the autism community in Southwest Florida. The event includes the tournament, silent auction, kids’ fishing, live music and fun. Kids’ activities are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. All proceeds benefit Family Initiative Inc., a nonprofit that serves families and children with autism spectrum disorder. Entry to the main tournament is $150 per angler. 239-233-5210.


calendar » Sunshine 5K » 6 a.m.-1 p.m. Vineyards Community Park, 6231 Arbor Blvd. W., Naples. Fundraiser for Friends of Foster Children Forever. Race begins at 7:30 a.m., registration at 6 a.m. Registration for the 5K is $30 in advance, $35 day of event; the 1-mile run/walk is $10 for adults, free for ages 13 and younger. 239-262-1808. friendsoffosterchildren.net

Spring Camping Weekend » 5 p.m. Caloosahatchee Regional Park, 19130 North River Road, Alva. Join Pack 102 for the last camping trip of the school year. It will be a fun-filled weekend of hiking, fishing and other outdoor activities. And don’t forget to bring your bikes (and helmets); there are plenty of trails, as well as a pump track across the street. Cost is $10 for scouts, $20 for siblings and parents. Fee includes campground rental, all meals and activities. Last day to sign up is April 24.

Saturday, April 28 Hook Kids on Fishing » 10 a.m.-noon. Fishermen’s Village, 1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda. Kids ages 6-16 and their parents learn about casting, safety, knots, tackle, catch-and-release tactics, habitat and conservation from professional guides and knowledgeable anglers. The first 80 kids registered may receive a free rod and reel. Registration required; call Ralph Allen Kingfisher Fleet at 941-639-2628. fishville.com

Touch-a-Truck Fort Myers » 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Pediatric Dentistry of Florida, 8016 Summerlin Lakes Drive, south Fort Myers. Kids learn hands-on about their favorite trucks and vehicles, plus interact with those who drive them. Featured vehicles include emergency service, law enforcement, military, public service and commercial businesses. Plus, there’s trackless train rides, pony rides, face painting, photo booth, costume character meet-andgreet and food trucks. A special “horn-free” hour is 11 a.m. to noon for children with special needs and sensitive ears. Bring can food donation for entry, benefiting the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida. 239-482-2722. drverwest.com UnitedHealthcare Girls on the Run of Southwest Florida Spring 5K » 7:30 a.m. Charlotte High School, 1250 Cooper St., Punta Gorda. Girls in grades 3-8 “graduate” from an afterschool 5K training and life skills programs as they line up to run and finish this 5K. Registration is open to the public. It’s a fundraiser for the program. $25 in advance, $35 day of event, $10 for ages 18 and younger, $5 for Kids Sprint. gotrswfl.org

Thursday, April 26 Poetry Open Mic Night » 6-9 p.m. Alliance for the Arts, 10091 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. Are you a poet looking for a stage? Or a fan of prose? Southwest Florida poets are invited to share their work at an open mic evening designed to bring together different generations, styles and approaches to poetry. The atmosphere will be casual fun for all ages. 239-939-2787. artinlee.org

Friday, April 27 Smoke on the Water Barbecue Competition and Music Festival » April 27-28. Centennial Park, Fort Myers. Free admission. Enjoy music, barbecue, vendors and the Kid Zone. VIP tickets, $75, include a covered picnic area near the stage, a meal and two drink tickets. Hours are 6-10 p.m. Friday, April 27 and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, April 28. 239-333-1933. sbdac.com/ smoke-on-the-water-fort-myers

Punta Gorda Block Party » Noon-10 p.m. Downtown Punta Gorda. Food, music, fun and festivities. There’s a street set up for young children only with shows and bounce houses just for them. This street closes at dark, but the rest is open till 10 p.m. Safe Kids Day » 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Gulf Coast Town Center, 9903 Gulf Coast Main St., San Carlos Park. In front of Famous Dave’s. Enjoy family fun, music and games. Learn interactive ways to keep children safe at home, at play and on the way. safekidsswfl.org Science Saturday » 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Rookery Bay NERR and Environmental Learning Center, 300 Tower Road, Naples. $5 for adults, $3 for ages 6-12, free for ages 5 and younger. Programs, labs and activities focused on a science theme the last Saturday of every month. This month’s theme is science of sand. Scheduled activities include: Estuary Encounter, Activity Lab, Show & Tell and Nature on the Silver Screen. “Scientist, Scientist, Who Do You See?” Storytime » 11 a.m. Barnes & Noble at Coconut Point, 23130 Fashion Drive, Estero. Full of rhyming fun, “Scientist, Scientist, Who Do You See?” features appearances by some of the world’s greatest scientists. Young readers will enjoy learning about scientists and how they changed the world. UnitedHealthcare Girls on the Run of Southwest Florida Spring 5K » 7:30 a.m. Sugden Regional Park, 4284 Avalon Drive, Naples. Girls in grades 3-8 “graduate” from an after-school 5K training and life skills program as they line up to run and finish the 5K. Registration is open to the public. It’s a fundraiser for the program. Registration is $25 in advance, $35 day of event, $10 for ages 18 and younger, $5 for Kids Sprint. gotrswfl.org

Saturday, May 5 Cinco de Stumble » 11 a.m.-6 p.m. 2443 First St., downtown Fort Myers. The Fort Myers Mural Society hosts this free art celebration for all ages. Features local art, music and performances, vendors, nonprofits, food, Teen Art Walk, live mural painting and a sidewalk chalk contest. Pets welcome, too. facebook.com/ events/136907703800547



« calendar

Celebrating Since 1951

All Ages

Classical Ballet Pointe Modern Tap Jazz Hip Hop Acrobatics Children’s Work

(239)334-3274 www.dancebochette.com NEWBORN CARE

Ventriloquist Darci Lynne » 7 p.m. Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, 13350 FSW Parkway, south Fort Myers. Darci Lynne is the youngest contestant to ever win “America’s Got Talent.” Following AGT, she sold out her headlining show in six minutes, having to add more shows. At 13, she is inspiring the next generation of ventriloquists. Tickets are $29.75-$99.50. VIP tickets include meet-and-greet. 239-481-4849. bbmannpah.com

Saturday, May 12 13th Annual Turtle Trot and Family Fun Day » 7 a.m. Lovers Key State Park, 8700 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach. The Turtle Trot 5K is one of the most popular runs in Southwest Florida, and this year The Friends of Lovers Key are including the whole family to participate. PRESCHOOL

5th Annual Dentistry from the Heart » 6 a.m.-5 p.m. Park Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, 690 Goodlette Frank Road, Naples. First 200 patients are guaranteed to be seen. Choice of filling, extraction or cleaning will be performed for those 18 years or older who can’t get dental care elsewhere. Andy Offutt Irwin: Storytelling Performance » 7 p.m. Joy, Health & Wellness Center, 2335 Tamiami Trail N., Naples. An evening of family-friendly storytelling with award-winning Andy Offut Irwin. The most famous of his characters is Marguerite Van Camp, Andy’s 85-year-old newly mintedphysician aunt. Andy takes on her voice, mannerisms and perspective. This 6-foot-4 man becomes Aunt Marguerite. 239-267-6480. joelying.com/office


Human Pink Ribbon » 9 a.m. Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Due to Hurricane Irma, Partners for Breast Cancer Care rescheduled its attempt to break the record for largest Human Pink Ribbon to May 12. Each person holds a pink umbrella to form the ribbon. $20 donation allows you to keep the umbrella; registration is $10 if you bring one from last year. A Pinktastic VIP Breakfast is 9-10 a.m. ($20). At 10:45 a.m., everyone gathers for a group photo. 239-454-8583. pfbcc.org

Monday, May 14 Shattering the Stigma » 11:30 a.m. Broadway Palm, 1380 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers. $45 with lunch, $60 with CEUs for mental health professionals. Mental health expert Dr. Radu V. Saveanu of the University of Miami talks about the latest advances in mental health treatment at this luncheon hosted by SalusCare. Registration begins at 11 a.m. 239-791-1575. shatteringthestigma.org

Find more events on swflparentchild.com 56 » APRIL 2018 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM

Jovana Batkovic, 38, is a board member of the Southwest Florida Symphony (swflso.org), punk rocker and owner of Nice Guys Pizza in Cape Coral.

voices »


Embrace the music All ages are welcome to enjoy the passionate performances of Southwest Florida’s professional symphony.


f all the experiences that I have treasured and remembered so vividly throughout my life, watching a live performance easily takes the cake. It was the time my parents took me to my first concert, before which I spent hours picking out my dress and polishing my new shoes, eventually walking into a breathtaking venue, taking a seat and shivering in excitement while the passionate performers shared a bit of their soul up on that stage. What becomes apparent during a live performance is that raw and undeniable humanity that binds us as people. It is what inspires conversation in a world overtaken by cell phones and television. Fast paced, fleeting moments. That instant gratification we so desire, yet in a more tangible form. I was hooked. Eventually, so enamored by it, I chose performing as a way of expression. Having grown up in the former Yugoslavia during the Communist era, I was exposed to art and music in a very intense manner. After all, the goal was to excel at all this. Art and especially classical music was considered one’s staircase to the atheist “heaven” (if there ever one was). This was probably

a major reason why I chose avantgarde theater and then eventually punk music, having fronted a post-punk band. Perhaps, my own form of rebellion. Alas, years later I found myself being drawn to the classics once more. When given the generous opportunity to serve on the board of trustees of the Southwest Florida Symphony orchestra, I embraced it with both arms. However, I was very surprised at how little diversity in age there was. I couldn’t understand how we could be so fortunate to have a professional orchestra at our finger tips, and yet how unattainable it seemed to so many. I have made it my personal goal in life to reintroduce this beautiful art form to people of all ages. I co-own a small restaurant in Cape Coral, and we have been supporting the symphony in many ways. We sell orchestra tickets at the bar. We throw together outings for young people to the concerts, prior to which we feed everyone, then invite them to the after party at our place. I want it to be an event! I want young people to come as they are or dress to the nines and enjoy a night of music. I explain it in a way that young people can relate to it. First, it doesn’t mean you have to spend hundreds of dollars to see a concert. When you go to the movies,

after you have paid for your ticket and popcorn and a drink, you are pretty much within a budget. The difference is, at a concert, you get to watch a living, breathing person who has spent many years and much effort perfecting what is their passion, pouring their hearts out right in front of you. Secondly, I explain that no one is out of place there. As a matter of fact, when we roll in 20 young people deep to a performance, we get so much encouragement and smiling looks, we feel like we are the rock stars. The best part is, we get to meet the musicians, and it is truly fascinating to hear their stories. Many are from different states and even countries. You never know what you may learn from someone else. In a world where arts and music are being taken out of schools, where talentless socialites have become the idols, and Saturday nights are being spent playing video games and snapchatting life instead of living it, wouldn’t it be nice to take the family out and simply sit back, forget your chores, forget yourself ? Just for a moment, enjoy the music. The saying goes everything is for anybody, but it is not for everybody. I truly believe that music is for everybody. Whatever you might listen to on a daily basis, it all started with this.


» a father’s view

Jim Dwyer is a Southwest Florida father of three boys.






Chillin’ in the back N

o matter how much you try to slow it down, your kids keep getting older, day after day. Along the way, there are milestones that remind you of this, and perhaps one of the strongest is when they turn 16 and can get their driver’s license. Still children, they’re given the ability to command a motor vehicle and begin to grasp the physical independence they so desperately want at that age. As parents, this transition is beyond the normal discomfort of another youthful year passed. It carries with it the weight of abject fear — letting your child free on the streets. My oldest, Jimmy, was the first to go through this, and after the appointed time with a learner’s permit, he got his driver’s license and was set free. We worried of course, but as time passed, we realized that maybe our son was sane and could manage to drive without crashing each and every time he left the house. We finally relaxed and accepted that he was probably going to be OK. Then came Tiernan. Different kid, but that same fear reared its head. His


mom and I nervously handed him the keys to the car when it was time and sent him off into the world. Some time passed, and Tiernan did great. Then came the moment when he needed to get on I-75. He had been on the highway before with a driving instructor, and he knew what he needed to do. He had shown us that he could be a careful driver around town. It has to happen eventually, so we told him to be careful and let him go. When Tiernan got home after the maiden voyage on the highway, he told us as he merged onto I-75, he was behind a car going about 50 mph. He was too frightened to pass, and so in his words, “Dad, I was just chillin’ in the back until my exit.” Beautiful words for a concerned dad to hear. I told him he could chill in the back as much as he wanted to and it is always better to be safe and certain. More time has passed, and I have gotten more and more comfortable with him out there on the streets. On a recent evening, I was out of town when my phone buzzed with a text. “Do you have a spare in your car?” What?!? That is not the kind of

text you like to get from home without any more info. So I called my wife to see what was up. She explained that she was on her way to meet Tiernan, who had some sort of tire trouble on the highway. As soon as we hung up, I called Tiernan to find out what happened. He was cruising down I-75 in the middle lane when, all of a sudden, the car started to swerve. He said, “Dad, I handled it like a BOSS!” He controlled the car, eased off the gas, let the cars around him pass and slowly moved onto the shoulder and to a stop. He said he doesn’t know what happened, but the tire was completely gone. A blowout on I-75 while going 70 mph with a mildly experienced driver. But he did everything right and was safe. There I was, far away from my son at this critical moment, but I was thinking that 2 miles or 200 might as well be the same when your kid is on the road. All we can do is hope and pray that he is careful and, when the next moment happens, that he calmly handles it like a boss and comes home unharmed again. And now Ryan has his learner’s permit. Lord help us!

Come meet these playful African Penguins before they leave town! At Naples Zoo now through April 15, 2018.



your world. our priority.

Golisano Children’s Hospital provides your family the quality health care your children deserve - close to home. Conveniently located on the grounds of HealthPark Medical Center, our state-of-the-art children’s hospital serves families from Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties.

- Diagnostic and MRI suite with pediatric sedation center - More than 70 pediatric specialists and 400 specially trained pediatric nurses - One of the top ranked Regional Perinatal Intensive Care Centers in Florida - Pediatric emergency department OPEN 24/7

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Call 239-343-KIDS (5437) For more information please visit us at GolisanoChildrensFlorida.org