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CARING FOR YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY Now and Through COVID-19 CALL US FIRST Before Going to the ER/Urgent Care

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Practice social distancing. Wash your hands often. Stay home whenever possible. OFFICES THROUGHOUT LEE COUNTY

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contents »

swfl

parent&child

41

Features

23

In Every Issue

30 rockin’ the spectrum Vee Patel drew from her experience and opened a kids’ gym for all abilities in south Fort Myers

17 ask the expert

20 in the kitchen

33 swing into summer

29 where are they now

Five STEAM projects families can do at home

Catch up with the Harley family of Cape Coral

46 safety corner

Summer is the perfect time to try herbs

As venues re-open, kids might find an athletic outlet in golf and tennis

Drowning is the top danger for children; these important tips can prevent it

23 dining out

37 coping with covid

Where to find dockside pickup in Lee and Collier counties

How to help children get through a school year that ends without the usual fanfare

50 travel Some helpful advice for planning a multigenerational road trip

25 kid stuff

41 show of strength

FGCU educator creates nature booklet to help families explore the backyard

Southwest Florida families shine a light on the positive during the coronavirus pandemic

57 voices Two foreign exchange students in Naples talk about being far from home during the pandemic

27 teens S W F L PA R E N

School officials explain why certain items were banned this year

TCHILD.COM

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Other Departments 7 8 9 11 12

editor’s note our contributors online me time 5 things

14 47 54 55 58

fyi family album around town calendar last look

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JOIN OUR GARDEN FAMILY

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editor's note »

parent &child

swfl

S W F L PA R E N T C H I L D. C O M

Part of the USA TODAY Network

Volume 21, Issue 5 Dedicated to serving the families of Lee and Collier counties 2442 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Fort Myers, FL 33901 swflparentchild.com Regional VP, Sales 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 Esther Copeland, Laura Haslinger, Randy Kambic, Noel Konken, Arseli Kurt, Jean Le Boeuf, Lisete Morales, Tricia O’Connor, Ryan Shore, Andrea Stetson Photographer Amanda Inscore Vice President/Advertising Sales Nancy M. Solliday Specialty Publications Team Coordinator Dennis Wright dennis@swflparentchild.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.

IN THIS TOGETHER

W

hiny dogs, stircrazy kids, anxious husband, work deadlines, a constant stream of bad news — it’s enough to test the patience of the sanest among us. And my kids are teens, able to navigate the online learning environment by themselves. For all you parents with younger children, my sympathy. (However, teens are not necessarily easy. My son, who has always been a very good kid, sneaked out of his room in the middle of the night mid-April. How do you deal with that? You can’t ground him; he’s already “grounded” thanks to safer-at-home measures.) The weeks since spring break have been full of uncertainty and major upheaval. Our kids miss their friends. They’re missing out on end-of-year celebrations and milestones. My senior was especially disappointed to miss Grad Bash, and he’s hoping against hope that graduation happens. How do we cope? Together. As separated as we are physically, it’s the “We’re all in this together” attitude that helps me. It helps to know I’m not the only one whose income has been impacted. I’m not the only one working from home while dogs bark and whine for attention and family members goof off or watch movies nearby. I’m not the only one who can’t focus on work sometimes and must go for a walk around the neighborhood to clear my head or hide in the bathroom to write my editor’s note. I know I’m not alone

because of the sidewalk chalk drawings, the posts of good deeds on social media, the camaraderie in my office’s team chat. We’ll get through this by supporting each other. Check on your neighbors (with appropriate physical distance). Offer to pick up supplies for others before you go to the store. Lend an ear by phone or Zoom. Play your drum kit. Dance in the street if it strikes you. Joy spreads joy. Seeing others experience a happy moment makes us feel good. Look for the good. And listen to your kids. They need your guidance now more than ever. Even the model student you never thought would sneak out in the middle of the night like an ’80s teen movie. I promise you this won’t last forever. The light at the end of the tunnel might already be kindling now.

Pamela Smith Hayford, Editor

Member of

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

swflparentchild.com

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 7


» our contributors

Meet the contributors to this month’s issue of Southwest Florida Parent & Child magazine.

HIGH STYLE r fo

LESS!

Esther Copeland • Spotlight • Esther Copeland is a writer and educator living in Lee County with her daughter. She especially enjoys writing about the people of Southwest Florida and single parenting. Randy Kambic • Swing into

Summer • Contributing writer Randy Kambic covers a variety of topics, including travel. He was a writer and a public relations executive in the New York area for about 25 years before moving here in 2007. He has written for Gulfshore Life, Gulfshore Business, Times of the Islands magazines, Natural Awakenings magazine and The News-Press. He enjoys tennis, the outdoors and the people of Southwest Florida.

C O M P A N Y

Noel Konken • In the Kitchen • Noel Konken, a registered dietitian, is a clinical pediatric dietitian at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

S T O R E

Jean Le Boeuf • Dining Out •

Jean Le Boeuf is the pseudonym used by a local food lover who dines at restaurants anonymously and without warning, with meals paid for by The News-Press and Naples Daily News. Follow the critic at facebook.com/jeanleboeufswfl or @JeanLeBoeuf on Twitter and Instagram.

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Ryan Shore • 5 STEAM Activities

®

Shop over 140 stores. Save up to 70% off. Dine at our wide array of restaurants! do at home.

You Can Do At Home • Ryan Shore is president and STEM Guru at Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead based in Naples, fullsteamaheadfl. com. In this month’s Ask the Expert column, he offers five STEAM projects families can

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online »

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Get SWFL Parent & Child anywhere at any time

Get the latest event information and family news every day on our family-friendly site.

Pregnant and giving birth in the age of COVID-19

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Tonia Doffing, at 30 weeks pregnant, joked to her husband, "If it gets bad enough, we’re just going to pull up a YouTube tutorial and get this baby out ourselves.” She had read that some hospitals might bar support people during delivery — most hospitals are allowing at least one. But the sarcasm was a testament to dizzying, disorienting changes for pregnant women in the age of Kennedi Greer arrived into the world at 12:24 p.m. Thursday, March 19, at The BirthPlace at NCH in Naples. COVID-19. Her mother, Kami Greer, limits her news and social media The 22-year-old had consumption about the coronavirus pandemic. She hopes weighed transferring to a mothers reach out to providers if they need help. “Every birthing center only to spend emotion they’re feeling right now is completely justified,” 90 minutes on the phone with she says. her insurance to learn they wouldn’t cover most of it. Her baby showers had been canceled. She hadn’t set foot in a grocery store in a month. “I did not expect to feel this kind of isolation until postpartum,” says Tonia, who lives just south of Fort Myers in Estero. “This has been good preparation for motherhood. It truly does show you, no matter how much you plan ahead, there’s just some things in life you cannot really control.” Hospital and prenatal visit rules seem to change daily. Certain baby supplies can be scarce. New moms have turned to anxiety medication. Florida midwives offering alternatives to the gloom-and-doom around hospitals have been deluged with inquiries. Even Florida’s governor has felt the unease of welcoming a baby into a pandemic. USA Today Network reporter Janine Zeitlin takes a look at being pregnant in the age of COVID-19. Read the full story at swflparentchild.com.

FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM @swflparentchild FIND US ON PINTEREST pinterest.com/ swflparentchild READ US ON ISSUU issuu.com/swflparentchild

MISS AN ISSUE? SWFL Parent & Child magazine is available in its entirety online along with back issues, too. Did you miss our birthday party issue in February? It’s online. Or wish you could find that list of where kids eat free (or nearly free) from the November issue? It’s online, too. Even our list of 10 great hikes for kids in last year’s March issue is online. Just visit swflparentchild.com and scroll to the bottom of the page. You’ll also find past stories individually on the site. S W F L PA

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ILD.CO

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LOOKING FOR SOMETHING TO DO? Our website has plenty of ideas. There’s our calendar and list of attractions, sure, for when life starts to go back to normal. But we also have lists of ways kids can continue to learn at home and features about local organizations hosting online events and activities.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 9


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me time »

4 THINGS TO MAKE QUARANTINE LIFE EASIER Our friends at Reviewed put together a long list of things to make your life easier while staying Safer at Home. While we’ll share the link online, these are our four favorites.

Now you’re cookin’ On days when you just don’t want to cook — and running out to your favorite restaurant isn’t an option — consider a pre-made meal kit. Reviewed’s tester loved Freshly because the meals were healthy and easy to make — all you do is pop them in the microwave for a few minutes (but they don’t taste like they come from a microwave). Plans start at $7.99 per meal at freshly.com.

Get your sleep

Sleep is one of the most important human needs. With adequate sleep, you’re better capable of taking on the stress of the day. Try a sleep mask for better zzz’s, day or night. Blocking out even the smallest light makes a big difference. Reviewed picked the Nidra Deep Rest Eye Mask, $13.95 on Amazon. com. But we also love the Cool Nights Eye Mask from Soma, made with Soma’s Cool Nights fabric. $10 at soma.com.

Keep your enemy close

NIGHT

DATE

Painting your nails can have a soothing, almost meditative effect — but not if you knock over the nail polish bottle. One solution: the Tweexy wearable nail polish holder. A silicone ring, it cups the nail polish bottle, so your polish stays close by, steady and drip-free as you paint. $10.99 from The Grommet. .

Catch up on your shows There’s a lot to watch right now. Streamline your viewing process with Reviewed’s favorite streaming device, the Roku Ultra. It’s easy to use — its interface is intuitive and its remote control is the best of those tested, with voice-control capability (instead of tediously spelling it out) and programmable “shortcut” buttons that click directly to your favorite streaming service. $99.99 at Best Buy.

Stay in for a night at the theater. The Laboratory Theater of Florida produced socially distant readings of two plays: the hilarious “The Realish Housewives of Fort Myers,” a show that’s coming to the stage next season, and “Macbeth,” which features actors from around the world. The readings are free to watch, but if you’re able to donate, there’s an option at the end of each video. So put the kids to bed, commandeer their blanket fort and enjoy the show.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 11


» 5 things

GETCRAFTY Unplug with a pug Create cute art with nothing but a sticky board and colorful yarn — no mess. This Pug Puppy Y’Art Craft Kit won the 2019 ASTRA Best Toys for Kids’ Arts & Crafts 7+ and the 2019 NAPPA Awards’ Best for Creative Fun. $14.99 at kahootz-llc.myshopify.com.

Looking for new ways to keep your kids busy? These five crafts use items you might have around the house to get creative.

BY REVIEWED/PART OF THE USA TODAY NETWORK

Paper beads  Finally, a good use for your junk mail. 

Bread tag village Turn those little plastic bread tags into art. WHAT YOU’LL NEED: Bread tags, construction paper, glue  This sweet little project is perfect for newly developing fine motor skills and leaves kids with a whimsical and colorful work of art. Take it up a notch and come up with a story or fairy tale about who lives in these wee houses and what they do in them.  HOW TO: Cut triangles from colored paper. Arrange tags on a piece of cardstock or similar weight paper along with their matching roofs. CREDIT: Handmade Charlotte

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WHAT YOU’LL NEED: Paper, a toothpick, skewer or the thin handle of a paintbrush, glue  Paper beads are simple to make and can really be made of any paper you have handy — even junk mail. Even a kindergartner can master it. And you can string them on anything—yarn, twine, or even torn pieces of fabric.  HOW TO: Draw and cut out an isosceles triangle, right triangle or rectangle, all at least

8 inches long. Different shapes give different looks. Put some glue on one end of the paper strip and start rolling it around the toothpick. When the strip completely glues on itself, remove the toothpick and let it dry. Make as many beads as you want. Apply glue over the beads and let them dry. To make the beads look like glass, paint them and cover with a glossy varnish.  CREDIT: Easy Peasy and Fun


Tissue paper lanterns  Turn glass jars into lanterns for summer nights in the garden.  WHAT YOU’LL NEED: Tissue paper, a jar, Mod Podge or a 50/50 solution of water and white glue, a candle or LED light 

No-sew T-shirt bracelet

Here’s some DIY outdoor lighting that your little one can proudly create. This summer lantern tutorial is so simple and results in such a forgiving craft—mistakes are virtually nonexistent and the messier you get, the prettier the result. If you don’t have tissue paper, you can color a coffee

Old T-shirts can be repurposed into beautiful bangles. WHAT YOU’LL NEED: Old cloth and a bangle  Kids grow out of their clothes like crazy. Here’s a great (kid-friendly) way to repurpose those old shirts and leggings and whatever else you’ve got. All you need to make a bold new accessory is some old fabric and an equally old bangle.

filter with a marker and let the wet glue help the colors bleed to get the stained-glass effect.  HOW TO: Cover the jar with a layer of Mod Podge. Press pieces of tissue paper onto it. Seal with another layer of Mod Podge. Add a small candle or batteryoperated light for the final touch. CREDIT: Design Improvised

HOW TO: Cut fabric into half-inch to 1-inch wide strips (a thick bracelet will need thicker strips). Loosely tie one end to the bangle and start wrapping it around the bracelet — the tighter the better. When you reach the knot, untie it and tie both ends together to close with a double knot. Trim ends. You can also use a glue gun to secure ends. CREDIT: Camilla Fabbri Designs

Milk carton birdhouse Turn your empty milk cartons into houses for feathered friends.  WHAT YOU’LL NEED: Milk carton, sticks, glue, paint or stickers for decorating  This milk carton birdhouse is perfect for celebrating sustainability. If you’re more of a milk jug kind of family, GreatStems.com has a tutorial.  HOW TO: Wash the carton with soap and water. A few inches from the bottom, draw a circle 3-5 inches in diameter. Carefully punch a hole in the circle and cut out the

circle. Glue or staple the top of the carton closed. Paint white. Let dry. Paint a second coat in the color(s) of your choice. Let dry. Punch a hole in the top of the carton and thread a

string through. Glue twigs to the top for a thatched roof effect. Punch a tiny hole under the entrance and insert a twig. Glue in place. Hang your birdhouse. CREDIT: Sun Basket

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 13


« fyi

Keep Lee County Beautiful Inc. extended the deadline to enter its 2021 “Leave the Scene Clean” calendar art contest. The new deadline is Friday, May 29. The calendar features the winning artwork, with the best overall piece gracing the cover. Awards and prizes are given at a ceremony in the fall. Public school, private school and home-school students in grades 1-12 are eligible to participate. To enter, visit klcb. org/leave-the-scene-cleancalendar.html or contact the office at 239-334-3488 or tisha@klcb.org.

FILE PHOTO

Calendar art contest deadline extended

Get a shout out from Winter the Dolphin Run stir crazy to help local business Runners take your marks. The Fort Myers Track Club is hosting a virtual race — the Social Distancing Challenge — to raise money to help local businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. There’s a 5K, 10K, 15K and half marathon. Or sign up for all four, appropriately dubbed the Stir Crazy 4 Distance Challenge. Registration starts at $30 and runners who raise more than $250 get their registration fee waived. Registration closes May 8 and times must be entered by May 15. Register at runsignup.com.

14 » MAY 2020 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to the “Dolphin Tale” movies star Winter, now offers personalized video messages you can send to family and friends. The dolphin and her friends are featured in a video that gives a shout out to anyone you choose. The cost is $75, or $79.99 through an iOS app, and can be requested through Cameo, cameo.com/cmaquarium.

Apple Blossom awards honor early learning Teachers of the Year The coronavirus may have canceled the awards luncheon, but nothing could stop the naming of the Apple Blossom “Teacher of the Year.” These awards name exceptional early childhood educators who teach and care for children, from infants to age 5. Each of the nominees receive recognition on the Collier Child Care Resources website at collierchildcare. org/apple-blossom-awards. The Preschool “Teacher of the Year” nominees are Diana Gutierrez, Suchity Jordan, Ana Lopez, Carolina Macias, Cheri Vasquez Murace, Crystal Page, Knorsheeka Parker, Shirley Rafeldt, Jessica Chavez Rodriguez and Alicia Sanchez. The Infant/ Toddler “Teacher of the Year” nominees are Sonia Garcia, Guadalupe Perez, Ruth Ruiz and Christina Santucci. The School Year Center “Teacher of the Year” nominees are Kaitlyn Arnold, Makenzie Weaver Camarda, Denny De Leon, Stephanie Falcone, Marian Fernandez, Edith Galan, Dr. Desiree Elizabeth LoScalzo, Mariela Naranjo, Christina Roman, Raimalu Santana, Dr. Lori Schwab, Maria Torres and Rosa Victoria.


Valerie’s House provides virtual grief support A nonprofit that helps children grieve, Valerie’s House launched virtual support groups for children and adult caregivers. “Grief can be such an isolating experience by itself,” says founder and CEO Angela Melvin. “New protocols keeping families from group gatherings have our children and families feeling even more alone and anxious. These groups will allow children to stay in touch with their friends and with the Valerie’s House team for ongoing support.” Families in need of grief support for children can reach Program Director Amy Strom at 239-841-9186 or amy@valerieshouseswfl.org.

New children’s book aims to save the day When Phyllis Ershowsky faced the challenges of a serious illness, she was not alone. Her loved ones provided support and inspired her to write her first children’s book, “Emily and Lucy to the Rescue.” The book aims to empower children and let them know they possess the potential to make a difference in other people’s lives. The book launches in June through Mascot Books. A portion of proceeds is to be donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Follow the author on Facebook @Emily and Lucy to the Rescue.

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IMAG offers virtual birthday parties Wish you could throw a cool birthday party for your child that’s more than mom, dad and cake? The IMAG History & Science Center now offers virtual birthday parties for the birthday child and 15 party guests. The center uses Zoom to connect everyone. Staff uses the IMAG TV studio green screen, costumes and props to create an interactive sciencethemed show for the party. There’s also a hands-on activity and everyone singing “Happy Birthday” at the end. The parties are free, but donations are always welcome. There’s also an IMAG Virtual Birthday Party To-Go Kit that you can purchase to have all the items you need for the activity. And IMAG offers an adults-only version. For more information or to schedule a party, visit theimag.org.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 15


« fyi

(continued)

Girl Scouts go online In partnership with Girl Scouts of the USA, the local council now offers “Girl Scouts from Home,” an online collection of self-guided, free activities to keep girls and their families engaged and connected. The activities involve STEM topics, entrepreneurship, life skills and the outdoors. Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida is also providing options to help troops hold remote meetings. There’s even a virtual service project, Across the Generations. Scouts are encouraged to write a letter, make a card or draw a picture and mail it to a nursing home, assisted-living facility or hospital. Explore the new offerings at gsgcf.org.

Literacy program moves lessons online Literacy Volunteers of Collier County moved lessons online to continue to teach English to non-native speakers, both children and parents. Typically, the volunteers work inside Collier County schools. In the move to online, the organization is also providing training to parents on how to use the conferencing system. For more information, visit collierliteracy.org.

Sam Sirianni scholarship winners announced The Sam Sirianni Memorial Scholarship recognizes student athletes for their work on and off the field, a tribute to the legacy of Fort Myers High School’s beloved Coach Sam Sirianni Sr. The 2020 Fort Myers High School winners are Yasias Young, Ethan Carr, Jacob Griffith and Kaydan Strickland. The 2020 all-county winners are Listo FuentesBadillo of East Lee County High, Tramese Godfrey of Riverdale High and Jamie Sukovich of South Fort Myers High.

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Ryan Shore is president and STEM Guru at Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead based in Naples, fullsteamaheadfl.com.

ask the expert »

5

RYA N SHOR E

activities you can do at home

I

Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead’s STEM guru must have a Ph.D. in fun because these activities are sure to entertain you kids for hours, maybe days or weeks — and they’re educational.

n sitting down to plan this article months ago, I never could have imagined how topical it would become. With the pause button pressed locally and across the globe due to COVID-19, parents have unexpectedly assumed the role of teacher in millions of households. With this comes extra responsibility. For many, it’s not enough that children get their digital learning done daily. Parents who aspire to give their kids more are always seeking enrichment opportunities for their children. These enrichment opportunities become particularly important as kids fall into routines defined by monotony. The STEAM activities that follow are great ways to mix things up, all while having fun and providing much needed higher-level thinking opportunities.

STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math (although we like to use the “M” for music at Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead). More than just the individual topics, good STEAM activities combine multiple topics and disciplines to help build what we refer to as the “maker traits.” These maker traits take learning above and beyond your typical low-level content mastery. They encourage a growth mindset and facilitate the thinking skills that kids need to be successful in nearly everything they do. These traits are: » Perseverance » Idea generation » Fearless problem-solving » Self-guided learning A student who regularly practices these traits and learns to master them

is infinitely more prepared for the future, whatever it may bring. These kids think flexibly, creatively, and don’t shy away from a challenge or a problem. Teaching these maker traits to kids is easier than it sounds. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and training a child to be a fearless problem-solver can take half a lifetime. Like anything, however, the more opportunities our students have, the easier it becomes. These five STEAM activities are selected because they combine STEAM topics, encourage use of the maker traits, and can be done at home with little to no cost or additional supplies. They are great to be done with your child — you will both have fun! As with many great STEAM activities, they have no “right answer” or singular way to accomplish the goal.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 17


« ask the expert (continued)

1

ACTIVITY

The Rube Goldberg machine

Rube Goldberg was an artist and cartoonist whose crazy contraptions captured the imagination of America in the 1950s. Named for their creator, a Rube Goldberg machine is a highly inefficient chain reaction that accomplishes a single task (such as pouring a glass of milk). A quick Google search will reveal many thousands of Rube Goldberg machines along with hours of inspiration. Building your own Rube Goldberg machine seems easy enough, but it requires a ton of creativity, engineering skill and perseverance. Kids as young as 5 can help build a Rube Goldberg machine or a chain reaction. Dominoes are a popular starting point, but I recommend not using them even if you do have them. In our experience, kids tend to lean on them rather than using their own creative problem-solving to figure out how to transfer energy to the next step in the machine.

SET UP:

1. Gather as much random stuff as you can. Marbles, playing cards, robots, string, tape, Hot Wheels cars, lots of random toys, etc. Almost anything can be used. 2. Decide on an end goal. What is the purpose of your Rube Goldberg machine? 3. Research! See what ideas are out there. How can you adapt them? 4. Plan. Things don’t always go according to plan, but it’s very helpful to have one.

TIPS:

• Start from the end and work backward. • Gravity is your friend. Use it. • Chain reactions are all about potential energy. Learn how to maximize an object’s potential energy. • Failure is part of the process. Even simple Rube Goldberg machines fail dozens of times before they work. Embrace it.

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ACTIVITY

2

Popsicle stick catapults Popsicle sticks have got to be the most versatile art/ engineering material for kids. They can be used in endless ways to create just about anything. They’re easy to work with, cheap, abundant, and make great building blocks for hundreds of projects. For this activity, you will need: Popsicle sticks, rubber bands, hot glue, binder clips, bottle caps, marshmallows (or other soft ammunition), plastic spoons.

SET UP:

1. Provide the materials listed above for your child. 2. Set a goal (farthest launcher, highest launcher, shoot marshmallows into mouth). 3. Do research together. Encourage self-guided learning. Find examples online and analyze the designs. 4. Choose a design that you think will accomplish

3

ACTIVITY

your goal. 5. Build it, test it, redesign it, test it, modify it, test it more. TIPS: • With open-ended projects, test as you go. Design iteratively. • Not all materials need to be used. • Challenge kids to make different variations for different purposes.

Start coding

Only a few years ago, this would seem like an impossible task to accomplish on your own. Whether you’re the student or the teacher, just “learning to code” sounds boring, monotonous, and feels like it could take a lifetime. Well, that’s all mostly true once you get far enough into coding, but the beginning stages of learning to code are a blast. And it helps with math, logic, reasoning, technology, perseverance and so much more. There are a ton of great free resources to gamify and learn coding. Scratch is our favorite, and here’s how to get started.

SET UP:

1. Head over to scratch.mit. edu. 2. Create an account, though not totally necessary, unless you want to save your child’s work. 3. Click “Ideas” at the top. 4. Follow the tutorials to get acquainted with the layout. 5. In minutes, kids will be creating their own programs and animations.

TIPS: • Scratch is open source, which means everything is shared once set to public. • You can borrow bits of code, “sprites,” and backdrops from other people’s programs. • Scratch allows you to “Remix” other programs to tinker with them. • Scratch can get complex quickly, but following the tutorials initially is a great way to not get overwhelmed.


ask the expert (continued) »

4

ACTIVITY

The build-off

The build-off is a fan favorite at Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead. It combines charades, engineering, quick thinking, and uses all the building materials you have laying around your house. The goal is to quickly build a random object in a relatively short amount of time. Idea generation, fearless problem-solving and creative thinking are all present in this fun, fast-paced STEAM activity. This can be done with one person, or with as many as you want.

SET UP:

1. Gather all the toy building materials that you have (Lego, K’Nex, building blocks, Popsicle sticks, Keva planks, etc.). 2. Write each building material on a slip of paper and put them in a hat. 3. Write a bunch of different objects on a slip of paper (e.g., car, boat, tree, beach, fish). Put them in a different hat. 4. Randomly select a building material. 5. Randomly select an object to build. 6. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Go! TIPS: • Kids can work in teams easily. • There are several charade apps that can randomly select objects. • Some kids love competition, some do not. This can easily be either.

ACTIVITY

5

Build a 3D paper city

At the cross section of origami and civil engineering lay the 3D paper city project. The supplies are virtually limitless (especially if you use recycled junk mail), and the creative potential is bound only by your imagination. The goal of the 3D paper city project is to build paper homes and buildings using origami techniques while laying out the town or city of your dreams. Imagine, a city skyline that could be felled with even the slightest breeze. Sounds amazing, right? Well, even if not, your child will have a lot of fun combining art, engineering and perseverance.

SET UP:

1. Get a lot of paper (recycled is great). 2. Research. What are some different ways to make paper houses and buildings? YouTube and Google have many great tutorials. 3. Develop your own process to make a paper house if you’re feeling adventurous. 4. Plan your city. Include the essential components of a city. Roads, homes, businesses, parks, etc. 5. Build! Fold paper, tape, glue, and make many, many paper buildings of all shapes and sizes. TIPS: • This is a great team activity. The more the better! • Different sizes, colors and types of paper make for a more exciting skyline. • If you have an undisturbed corner or a tabletop to lend to the cause, this project can take hours, days, weeks — as long as you want! • Buildings tend to get more creative and adventurous as the city grows. Encourage it! • Running out of motivation? See if your city can survive a natural disaster like hurricane force winds. Or a fan.

Great STEAM activities are about building creativity, confidence, flexible thinking and problem-solving skills. Go forth and mold the minds of the future!

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. SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 19


« in the kitchen

SPICE THINGS UP WITH

HERBS Tired of the same old, same old? Herbs can shake things up in the kitchen, adding fresh new flavors to your standard menu. ith summer on the horizon, everyone is looking for fresh new flavors to spice up their outdoor barbecues and family picnics — which is why it comes as no surprise the first week of May is deemed “National

IPE FIND A REC CHIO FOR PISTA PESTO ON PAGE 22 »

20 » MAY 2020 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM

Herb Week” by the International Herb Association. Herbs, by definition, are plants that may be useful, either as a food or as a medicinal agent with a therapeutic effect. The well-recognized aromas associated with different herbs come from their natural oils, which not only bring exciting flavor to dishes, but also the smells can have mentally uplifting effects. Whether fresh, frozen or dried, herbs add a creative spin to some favorite summer staples while providing additional health benefits.


Noel Konken, a registered dietitian, is a clinical pediatric dietitian at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

Get in the garden While many herbs can be found either in fresh or dried variety at your local grocery store, growing them yourself can be even more convenient, cost-effective and gratifying. Starting your own herb garden can be as simple as placing soil in a pot with a few seeds and leaving it in a sunny spot, such as a windowsill, porch or lanai. In fact, most herbs are considered low-maintenance — meaning they do best when left alone. Try getting started with herbs that grow well in hot, humid weather, such as: • Dill • Rosemary • Thyme • Basil • Oregano

Harvesting herbs Although most herbs can be grown during all seasons in Florida, they tend to deliver less intense tastes and smells in colder months. Summer is when herbs’ aromatic oils are at their maximum. When it comes to harvesting, early morning is best. Pick your herbs on a dry day, just before the sun warms up and dehydrates the fragile leaves or stems. Cut herbs with scissors or a sharp kitchen knife, ideally, just before the plant flowers to assure the flavor is concentrated to the leaves.

Herbs in the kitchen When it comes to cooking with fresh and dried herbs, there are important differences to note. While both fresh and dried herbs provide the greatest flavor when added toward the end of cooking, the amount of dried to fresh herbs needed in recipes is cut in half due to the concentrated effect of the aromatic oils found in dried herbs.

Preservation DRYING: Take 5-10 stems and remove the bottom leaves. Tie the stems together near the end and hang-dry upside down in a dry, temperaturecontrolled, ventilated, dark space. Herbs will take about one week to become brittle and can be stored in sealed containers.

FREEZING: Either take

individual leaves and freeze on a flat surface to later place in a freezer-safe bag or place many leaves into a

freezer-safe bag all together. Freezing separately will allow you to individually use leaves as needed, whereas freezing altogether will give you a clump of herbs that can easily be added to sauces or soups.

ADD OIL: Blend herbs together with oil to create a paste-like consistency. This will increase the shelf-life of the herbs in your refrigerator, or they can be frozen in a freezersafe bag, container or ice cube trays.

The most important thing when cooking with herbs is to get creative. Add basil atop your favorite pasta recipe, roast a summer vegetable blend with a few stems of rosemary, or bake salmon wrapped in fresh dill with lemon butter inside tin foil.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 21


« in the kitchen (continued)

GETTY IMAGES

2017

Pistachio Pesto Makes: about 1 cup

INGREDIENTS

» 1 cup grated parmesan cheese » 2/ cup pistachios 3 » 6 cups basil » 2 cloves garlic » 2 teaspoon salt » 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper » ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. SOURCE: Ashley Lovetere, a registered dietician and licensed dietician/nutritionist, created for Lee Health teaching kitchens

22 » MAY 2020 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM


Jean Le Boeuf is the pseudonym used by a local food lover who dines at restaurants anonymously and without warning, with meals paid for by The News-Press and Naples Daily News. Follow the critic at facebook.com/jeanleboeufswfl or @JeanLeBoeuf on Twitter and Instagram.

dining out »

DOCKSIDE TAKEOUT Because life’s better on a boat. If you’re one of those lucky boating devils, here are a few great places to get your social distancing takeout.

I

n the interest of full disclosure: I do not have a boat. In the interest of oversharing: I wish I had a boat. Everything is better on a boat, social distancing included. My Instagram feed has been packed with these boat people, posting about their brutal, tortured isolation in the azure waters of the Gulf, toasting their cans of beer and Solo cups of wine with #quarantinelife #sunshine #seashelldistancing. OK, I made up the last one. But I’d use it. If I had a boat. I hate these boat people — because I am not them. I’m just another schlub living in pajamas, counting the walk from my bedroom to the kitchen as exercise, eating two-day-old lo mein for breakfast, trying to remember if it’s Tuesday or Sunday (neither: It’s Thursday). On the quarantine spectrum, I’m about as far from #seashelldistancing as one can get. But a critic can dream. For you lucky bastards who are on boats, you can eat well while living your best seafaring lives. It’s unfair but true. Several waterfront restaurants are open for no-contact dockside pickup. I’m sharing nine of them, somewhat begrudgingly, here. Please note: Hours and open/ closed statuses may vary; call before placing an order.

Bert’s Bar & Grill It’s sad to think this colorful shack can’t share its million-dollar views — except it can, if you have a boat. This Matlacha staple will deliver its grouper tacos, its thick burgers, its hand-cut fried-to-order chips direct to its docks. Then go forth and enjoy your meal amid nature. (4271 Pine Island Road, Matlacha; 239-282-3232; bertsbar.com)

The Boathouse on Naples Bay

Cabbage Key Inn & Restaurant

Not to be confused with The Boathouse Tiki Bar & Grills in east Fort Myers and Cape Coral, which are temporarily closed, this Collier-based Boathouse is currently open offering a full menu packed with seafood of all sorts, plus a few beef, lamb and pork options for land-lovers.

Situated between Cayo Costa and Pine Island, this almost 70-yearold inn is only accessible by boat. Famed for its dollar-bill covered walls and thick cheeseburgers, Cabbage Key offers call-ahead dockside pickup for boaters looking for a hot meal.

(990 Broad Ave. S., Naples; 239-6432235; boathouseonnaplesbay.com)

(239-283-2278; cabbagekey.com/ dining)

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 23


« dining out (continued) The Dock at Crayton Cove

Gather Tucked into Tarpon Point Marina, Gather earned my No. 1 pick in Cape Coral for 2020. It’s the craftiness of the cocktails, the stunning flavors of the food, the views of the water. You can get all of that delivered direct to your boat. And believe me, I would if I could.

From shrimp nachos to grouper fingers to stone crab claws, why catch your own seafood when you can pull into The Dock and skip right to the best part: eating it. Situated on Naples Bay on the edge of downtown Naples, The Dock isn’t just seafood. There are burgers, chicken, ribs and a bountiful Sunday brunch menu, all available for you lucky boat folks to enjoy on the water.

(5971 Silver King Blvd. No. 116, Cape Coral; 239-673-9939; gathercape.com)

Run by a pair of French chefs, this Cape Harbour restaurant is all about culinary fun. From handcrafted pizzas to chicken-liver pate to a stunning steak frites, it’s hard to go wrong here. And it’s impossible for anything to taste bad on a boat. Win-win. (5785 Cape Harbour Drive No. 106, Cape Coral; 239-542-0123; fathomsrestaurant.com)

Gramma Dot’s This Sanibel classic crafts killer coconut shrimp, thick grouper sandwiches and some of the tartest, tangiest Key lime pie in town. Call ahead and you can grab all the above to be eaten from the comfort of your captain’s chair. (634 N. Yachtsman Drive, Sanibel; 239-472-8138; sanibelmarina. com)

24 » MAY 2020 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM

PHOTOS SPECIAL TO SW FL PARENT & CHILD

Fathoms

PHOTOS SPECIAL TO SW FL PARENT & CHILD

(845 12th Ave. S., Naples; 239263-9940; dockcraytoncove.com)

Matanzas on the Bay

Tarpon Lodge

Located on the serene waters of Estero Bay, Matanzas makes one of the best pizzas on Fort Myers Beach. Dinner options include steaks, burgers and grouper every which way. At lunch there are more sandwiches, wraps and salads.

This former Pine Island fishing lodge is home to a quaintly historic dining room complete with brick fire place and creaky wood floors. Sadly, it’s closed. But Tarpon Lodge’s kitchen is not. I love the blue-crab-and-corn chowder, the crab cakes, the salads. I imagine I’d love it even more on a boat.

(416 Crescent St., Fort Myers Beach; 239-463-3838; matanzasonthebay.com)

(13771 Waterfront Drive, Bokeelia; 239-283-3999; tarponlodge.com/ restaurant)

Temporarily closed The Boathouse Tiki Bar & Grill: True to its name, this two-location chain offers dockside pickup from its Cape Coral and Fort Myers Shores restaurants. Personal favorites include the mahi tacos, the gator bites and a non-traditional, though no less delicious, Cuban sandwich. Check theboathouseusa.com for when the restaurants will be reopening.


kid stuff »

GETTY IMAGES

EXPLORE

NATURE AT HOME

FGCU educator creates “I spy” nature booklet to guide families through fun activities they can do in the backyard. BY ANDREA STETSON

R

icky Pires wants children, their parents and even their grandparents to get outside and discover nature. A few days after the beaches, hiking paths and nature trails closed due to the coronavirus, Ricky sheltered inside coming up with a way for

families to enjoy the outside. Ricky is the founder and director of the Wings of Hope program at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 20 years she has been traveling to elementary schools around Southwest Florida teaching children about the environment, while also educating students at FGCU.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 25


« kid stuff (continued)

Now she is hoping that education continues while people take shelter at home. She created an 11-page “I Spy Nature at My Home Habitat” booklet. It includes pages for “I spy” organisms, food chains and food webs, and nature, backyard bingo, a wildlife word search, a crossword puzzle, a glossary and an answer key. The goal is to engage elementary students and families by observing the natural world in their own backyards. “I came up with it saying we need to help out with this challenging world right now,” Ricky says. “I had lots of students, over 5,000 of them, and teachers, and I just thought this was a way we can help.” That is just the beginning. Every three to four weeks Ricky plans to add another nature activity booklet to the Wings of Hope website. “It is connecting with the grandparents, too,” Ricky says. “The grandparents can also do the activity where they are, and they can compare notes on FaceTime. That would be a highlight with it.” Ricky hopes that the family nature hunts will continue even after the virus goes away. “About 90 percent of the kids I see don’t go hiking with their families,” Ricky says. “So at least maybe we can get them out in their backyard.” Ricky says the I spy activities work best with students from second grade to middle school. All the vocabulary and lessons correspond with Florida’s educational standards, she explains. She sent the information about the website and activities to fourth and fifth grade teachers throughout Lee and Collier counties. “Teachers are putting it into their online lesson plans,” Ricky says. “It is just a great activity.” Anna Godsea, the program coordinator and Wings of Hope education director at FGCU, helped create the activities. She hopes the I spy booklet entices families to enjoy nature together. “A lot of people are saying they are able to reconnect with nature,” Anna says. “We get very busy with our day-to-day lives, and we don’t have time to stop and slow down and appreciate what

26 » MAY 2020 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM

E FRE LET K Nature at M.eydu/ O O B e “I Spy at fgcu e/i-

t p e ookle he fr sofho Get t abitat” b act/wing .pdf. da mp eH Hom mmunityi ooklet-a s of b o Wing as/ cas/c py-nature e h t s out du/c re ab at fgcu.e fhope. o m Learn program ct/wingso Hope unityimpa comm

is around us, and this is forcing us to do this. We can realize that this doesn’t have to be all bad.” Anna hopes that families will do the activities together and extended families will join in through technology. “That is the premise of it,” she says. “Parents are a child’s first teacher. That doesn’t need to stop just because they become school age and go into school. They can learn lots of things from their grandparents as well. It can incorporate parents and extended family. Luckily we live in an age where technology is accessible, so we can connect across large distances and explore our own backyards and talk about what we have in common in our own backyards and what we don’t.” Anna would like to see families continue to do the activities after people can start going back to public places. “By starting in your own backyard and taking that first step it makes you want to go and see more,” she says. “They might want to do something on a bigger and grander scale and hopefully that will open the door to venture into parks and nature trails.”


teens »

BANNED M

A look at why some seemingly innocent items are banned at schools. BY ANDREA STETSON

ore than 65 comments quickly accumulated on a Facebook post when one angry mom wrote about her frustration about the banning of hair scrunchies at her daughter’s middle school in Lee County. Others responded about bans on water bottles and other seemingly innocuous items. Sure, everyone knows that weapons are banned at schools and that dress codes ban things such as spaghetti strap tops or too short shorts. But schools in both Lee and Collier counties also ban items that become a distraction or a safety hazard that surprise some parents. In some Lee County public schools, only disposable, clear plastic water bottles are allowed. In some Collier County public schools only hard-sided, reusable water bottles are permitted. These are totally different rules for totally different reasons. “Some middle schools have had to prohibit the plastic, oneuse water bottles. So instead the kids can bring in their own refillable water bottles. It is mostly at the middle school level,” says Rachel Dawes, director of student relations for Collier County Public Schools.

The reason is students were squeezing and playing with the bottles, making crunching noises that distracted lessons. At one time some students punched holes in the cap and squeezed the bottles, squirting water at each other. Those distractions prompted the ban.

In Lee County, school officials wanted the clear plastic bottles, so they could better see and monitor the liquid inside to make sure it really is water. “They just prefer clear water bottles to be able to quickly examine what is in it — just line of sight,” says Rob Spicker, assistant director of media relations and public information for Lee County Public Schools. “They are actually sold at school.”

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 27


« teens

(continued)

Hair scrunchies seem like an innocent thing to ban. Rob says girls can still wear them in a ponytail on the back of their heads, but students can’t use them for anything else. He explains years ago a girl used a scrunchie to create a mohawk on the top of her head. That was the original start to the ban. “They can’t wear them on their arms,” Rob says. “At the time, it signified boyfriend and girlfriend. It was used to match up couples in class based on their scrunchies. That’s middle school for you.” More recently scrunchies in middle school have become a symbol for VSCO girls (pronounced “visco”). VSCO girls are a subculture among teenagers that follow certain fashion choices. The girls wore numerous hair scrunchies up their arms as part of this trend. “There are trends that come and go and just keeping the policies in place keeps it from becoming a distraction,” Rob says. Colored hair is also banned at many schools in Lee County. “Hair coloring or style that may cause a substantial disruption is prohibited,” Rob says. “It is all about the disruption. If somebody’s dyed-red hair is more talked about than math, then the red hair would not be allowed. These things are usually at the discretion of the principal.” Rachel agreed that items are banned in Collier County schools when they become distracting. “For example, years ago when fidget spinners came out, some elementary schools had to prohibit those because obviously you have to have a way to stop the distraction,” she says. “Any kind of trending thing, if it does become a distraction, principals will look at it on a case-by-case basis.” The latest item added to the list of prohibited things? “We added in Hoverboards,” Rachel says. “They cannot be operated on school grounds. That is a safety issue. We wanted to prevent any possible injury.”

28 » MAY 2020 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM


20th anniversary » THEN

THE

HARLEY

FAMILY

Lailoni Harley, of Cape Coral, first appeared on the cover of SW FL Parent & Child magazine at age 5 in November 2007 with Julian Pueblas, 4. They were the winners of our summer cover contest. Then, in June 2009, Lailoni and younger brother Frederick Harley Jr. were featured on the cover with their dad, Fred Harley, for a special Father’s Day edition.

Where are they now?

NOW

The Harleys live in Cape Coral.

Ages: Lailoni is 17; Freddy is 14 School: Lailoni is a Dual Enrollment student at Florida SouthWestern State College Tell us about yourself. What do you enjoy doing now? Lailoni: I play varsity basketball for the Lady Seahawks of Cape Coral High School coached by Brian Cruz. The 2019-2020 season left my team and I undefeated in our district and District Champions. One of my biggest enjoyments is working with children and watching and helping them grow, so over the summer I work as a camp counselor for my local recreation center where I’m able to interact with children grades K-8 all summer long. I recently started creating and posting YouTube videos for my channel Loni Harley and hope that in the near future I can grow my channel and later become a brand ambassador for companies all across the globe. Freddy: My name is Frederick Harley

Jr., but everyone calls me Freddy. I enjoy playing soccer and have been playing for many years. I played for my middle school team and also the Cape Coral Cyclones U15.

What do you love about growing up in Southwest Florida? Lailoni: I love the amazing weather we get year-round here, it makes it possible for every day to be a beach day. People from all across the world travel to visit Florida, which is great, because then I get to meet so many different people with different backgrounds and different stories to tell, but I’d have to say the thing I love most about living and growing up in Southwest Florida would have to be the fact that I met my best friend, Sheila Mae Nermal, in the first grade here and that we’ve continued to be best friends throughout the year and still to this day.

Freddy: What I love about growing up in Southwest Florida is that it’s always sunny and warm.

Fred: Raising our kids in Southwest Florida is one of the best decisions my wife and I made. The diversity, the history and the overwhelming support from our community is Amazing!! From the covers till now, Lailoni has grown into a beautiful and busy young lady, from becoming a national champion for cheerleading, district champions in basketball, working, YouTubing and going to college. As for Freddy he’s grown into a handsome young man who is caring and always thinking of others. He won the Lee County Do the Right Thing Award. Freddy is one of the elite soccer players in our area. It’s amazing to watch him play. Everybody knows Freddy... He’s an outstanding person on and off the field. What’s one piece of advice that’s been really helpful? Lailoni: From my teachers to my coaches to my parents, they all told me, “You can do whatever you put your mind to,” and I am grateful for every last one of them for reminding me every single day. They are the reasons I am who I am today. Freddy: The one piece of advice an adult has told me was don’t stop trying to be better because someone in this world is trying twice as hard as you.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 29


« spotlight

SHE ROCKS

THE SPECTRUM AND BEYOND Vee Patel, a Southwest Florida mom of two, created a space for children of all abilities to learn, grow and have fun. BY E. COPELAND

GETTY IMAGES

Southwest Florida performing artists and instructors talkis with about Above, Vee Patel her daughter, Zara, the inspiration how students can hone their skills for opening a We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym in through individual instruction.

30 » MAY 2020 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM

Southwest Florida. The gym is designed for children of all abilities. On the opposite page are a few photos from the gym’s grand opening celebration in November.

PHOTO BY PAMELA HAYFORD

NEXT LEVEL


er family at home, Vandana Patel, lovingly known as “Vee,” is at her family gym, We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym. It’s April, and COVID-19 is in full swing, but Vee doesn’t mind. She is waiting at her gym to assist essential workers with child care. But there’s more. Let me take you to the beginning, and the story of We Rock the Spectrum Fort Myers, a gym for children of all ability levels, which opened November 9. Vee’s dream of this gym began with the birth of her daughter, who has Angelman Syndrome. I spoke with her by phone in April, minding my social distance, with follow-ups via email (the conversation has been edited for space and clarity): EC: Thank you for sharing your story. How did you discover the need for this type of gym? Vee: Our kids are the inspiration

and reach their highest potential. EC: Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Background? Are you married? How many children do you have? Vee: I was born in India and grew

up in Minnesota. I have a Bachelor of Science in Business from Carlson School of Management at University of Minnesota. I have been married to Ankur Patel for almost 15 years. We have a 10-year-old son, Aman, and 6-year-old daughter, Zara. EC: What are your future plans? Vee: If I was asked five years ago

where I see myself, I would have never imagined to be involved in the special needs community and have found my passion to help kids of all abilities to reach their highest potential by opening a Kid’s Gym. I don’t like the words “special needs,” should be “special abilities,” all the weaknesses are overpowered with their special strengths. Seeing how kids and adults have reacted to Zara’s special abilities, it’s eye-opening to see the lack of education and acceptance of inclusion. We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym

PHOTOS BY DARA PRETTYMAN PHOTOGRAPHY

and motivation behind bringing We Rock the Spectrum to the Southwest Florida community. Zara was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome in

2016, a rare neurogenetic disorder which exhibits symptoms such as developmental delays, no speech or minimal speech, seizures, sleep disorders, frequent laughter, excitable personality, and walking/balance disorders. Aman and Zara love playing with each other and we always struggled finding a place outside our home where both can play together.  After taking Zara to various therapies over the past three years, I had the opportunity to meet parents with kids of all abilities. Zara has progressed tremendously because of early intervention, so it was then I realized the need for a safe and inclusive environment for all kids to play and have fun together, all while understanding the behaviors that come hand-in-hand with developmental challenges. Working with kids has always been my passion, so it was a sign when I came across the We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym franchise. After visiting the Boca Raton location, it was love at first sight. I am very grateful that we now have a sensory-based gym in Southwest Florida for all kids of all abilities to play together, to learn from each other

We Rock the Spectrum We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym is at 17640 S. Tamiami Trail, Suite 309, in south Fort Myers. Find them online at werockthespectrumfortmyers.com.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 31


« spotlight (continued) is the platform for inclusion and education. Zara has given me a purpose in my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything different. Along with managing a new business, I am also coordinating an awareness walk for … Angelman Syndrome. (It’s scheduled for September 12 at Harbour Plaza.) Zara is showing progress because of early intervention. She works hard every day to do basic tasks that are usually taken for granted. We also plan on starting a second gym. EC: What does We Rock the Spectrum offer? Vee: This is an indoor sensory-based

kid’s gym for all kids of all abilities. Our unique equipment will assist all children in their neurological growth and development. We offer: • Open Play — everyone is welcome to come and play during Open Play hours • Birthday parties — rent the entire gym for a private event • Melissa and Doug retail • Respite and Break Time care • Classes — social skills, talking tots, yoga, dance and parent support group • Occupational therapy and speech therapy at the gym through our partners at Mosaic Therapy • School field trips • And camps will be coming soon. EC: How has COVID-19 affected you? Vee: We are offering free Break

Time/Drop Off thanks to sponsorship through My Brother Rocks the Spectrum Foundation. This is available

to health professionals, first responders, grocery store workers and essential emergency personnel. Limited to staff availability. For all kids ages 4 and older; must be potty trained and able to play in a group. We want to take the time to thank all of our essential workers and let them know that we support them anyway we can. EC: Vee, take me through a typical day of your life, before COVID. Vee: After the kids take the bus to

school, I leave to go to the gym, which opens at 9 a.m. I am there every day in the morning to meet all the parents and interact with the kids. I either have family or staff members at the gym while I pick up Zara from school to take her to therapy. I am back at the gym for a couple hours and we close the gym at 6 p.m. The gym is cleaned and ready for the next day. EC: What steps did you take to start this business? Vee: I wanted to open the gym as

soon as possible so kids can come and start playing. After we signed with the franchise, we were able to find the perfect location on U.S. 41 near Alico Road, which is central to the entire Southwest Florida community. Along with the contractor, we did a lot of hands-on work to save time and money. Thanks to family and friends for their hard work, we opened within four months. EC: What are the obstacles you have faced and overcome? Vee: Thankfully, we didn’t have

many. We had to postpone our initial grand opening date by two weeks

because we wanted to make sure everything was perfect for the big day. EC: What were the rates and what you were you offering before COVID? Vee: Our regular Open Play visit is

$14 per child and $12 for siblings, or purchase packages: • 3 visits for $36 • 5 visits for $55 • 12 visits for $125 We also offer free delivery of all Melissa and Doug purchases of a minimum of $40 within a 10-mile radius or schedule a curbside pickup. EC: What is your favorite of all the activities? Vee: Zipline — it has a swing and

kids go across … loved by all ages! It helps so much with coordination, going up the steps, giving them courage and strength to hold on. EC: What would you like to leave to the world? Any words? Vee: Inclusion. This is my best

word. I hope my legacy is that all kids with any ability along with their siblings can go to a place as a family and bond under one roof. So many times not all the kids have the chance to have fun together. From 6 months to 12 years — but there are no age restrictions. Even high school students find fun and activities to do. ESE classrooms often come to use the sensory equipment. The gym also allows for children to meet their therapy goals, outside of therapy. It offers more practice to them. All I wanted was to make a difference in our community, I love helping kids, this gym is my platform to help the community.

What they’re saying Indeed, Vee may be already sowing inclusion in Southwest Florida. The gym’s Facebook page is peppered with testimonials. Here are just a couple:

“Love this place! Such a great spot to bring my kids. It’s so fun for them and not overwhelming at all. We would normally go to Chuckie Cheese and it was so overstimulating and crazy in there. The kids can barely focus in these kinds of places. We found we rock the

32 » MAY 2020 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM

spectrum to be so calming not only for our kids but for our children as well. We will continue to stay supporting the fort myers rock the spectrum family! Thank you for what you do for our community!” — Julyssa Alvero

“Great place for kids to explore. The owner is just the nicest; she generally seems like she cares/ wants you and your child to have a nice time.” — Tyfannie Lions


sports »

INTO

SWING SUMMER This time of year is an active one for golf and tennis youth programs. BY RANDY K AMBIC

EDITOR’S NOTE: Concerns about the coronavirus canceled many events and closed numerous facilities in March and April. When SW FL Parent & Child went to press, organizers were unsure what May, June and beyond would hold. Contact organizers for updates to their plans.

t’s swing time again for kids. The combination of school classes ending and snowbirds going back up north creates extensive opportunities on our many golf courses and tennis courts this time of year. The swing sports might also provide an excellent physical outlet for kids as facilities potentially reopen in the wake of coronavirus “safer at home” orders. Indeed, many golf courses remained open by enacting new social distancing measures.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 33


« sports (continued)

Golf Clubs

Golf

The Southwest Florida Junior Golf Association conducts 18-hole (for ages 13-18) and nine-hole (for ages 8-12) tournaments for boys and girls in the summer. The events are geared to enable kids to improve skills and master the stimulus of competition while exhibiting integrity and sportsmanship and following the sport’s rules. The LPGA Girls Golf program consists of 20 nine-hole play days on Saturdays through mid-December in Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero for middle and high schoolers. Also, eight nine-hole events for elementary (starting at age 7) and middle school girls tee off on Wednesdays early June through mid-August at the Worthington Country Club in Bonita Springs. Leaders provide tips and demonstrate various skills immediately

34 » MAY 2020 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM

before each competition. Jane Huling, previously a long-time teaching pro in the Detroit area and co-director of the program along with Worthington head golf pro Kristine Connell, relishes the pre-play clinics. “We make them short and fun, and then the girls try it on the course. We sometimes also incorporate contests and prizes,” Jane says. “We also play with the kids on the course, so they get both group and individual attention,” says Kristine, the 2018 Southwest Florida PGA Player Development Award winner. Andy Scott, the Southwest Florida Chapter of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America Teacher of the Year of 2019, the fourth time he has earned this prestigious award, conducts » Continued on page 36

ALICO FAMILY GOLF • Where: 16300 Lee Road, south Fort Myers • Phone: 239-334-4653 • Online: alicofamilygolf.com

ANDY SCOTT SCHOOL OF GOLF • Phone: 239-699-3985 • Online: andyscottschoolofgolf.com

CORAL OAKS JUNIOR GOLF ASSOCIATION • Where: Coral Oaks Golf Course, 1800 N.W. 28th Ave., Cape Coral • Phone: 239573-3100 • Online: coraloaksgolf.com and capecoraljrgolf.org/program

FIRST TEE OF NAPLES/COLLIER • Phone: 239-825-4851 • Online: thefirstteenaplescollier.org

LPGA GIRLS GOLF • Phone: 239-877-3854 (Jane Huling), 239-495-1750 (Kristine Connell) • Email:

janiegolfpro@embarqmail.com, kconnell@ worthingtoncc.net • Online: girlsgolf.org

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA JUNIOR GOLF ASSOCIATION • Phone: 239-344-8590 STONEYBROOK GOLF CLUB • Where: 21251 Stoneybrook Golf Blvd., Estero • Phone: 239-948-3933 • Online:

stoneybrookgolfestero.com and sbjrgolf.org


sports (continued) »

Tennis

The Barbara Manzo Tennis Center at Three Oaks Park in south Fort Myers is usually abuzz with young tennis players. Director Sibo Kangwa plans to lead nine, week-long sessions on the many hard courts of the south Fort Myers facility starting June 8 for all abilities ages 5 and older from 9 a.m. to noon daily. “We also put together tournaments in various skill levels that help youngsters fulfill USTA requirements to move up in skill levels,” she says. She also teaches, in con-

Tennis Clubs junction with the Lee County Community Tennis Association, recreational tennis at the Wa-Ke Hatchee Park and Recreation Center and Rutenberg Park, both in south Fort Myers. “Kids can play at all three places, and some scholarships are also available,” Sibo adds. The LCCTA also furnishes portable tennis nets so that indoor play can be conducted during regular parks and recreation youth summer camps at the North Fort Myers Park and Recreation Center, Veterans Park » Continued on page 36

ARTHUR L. ALLEN TENNIS CENTER • Where: 730 Eighth St. S., Naples • Phone: 239-213-3060, 239-213-3058 • Online: naplesgov.com

BARBARA MANZO TENNIS CENTER • Where: Three Oaks Park, 18215 Three Oaks Parkway, south Fort Myers • Phone: 239-8220635 • Email: tennisdirectorthreeoaks@gmail. com • Online: leecountytennis.com LEE COUNTY COMMUNITY TENNIS ASSOCIATION • Phone: 239-565-5300 • Online: leecountytennis.com

PELICAN BAY COMMUNITY PARK • Where: 754 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples • Phone: 239-598-3025 • Online: colliercountyfl.gov

YACHT CLUB COMMUNITY PARK • Where: 5819 Driftwood Parkway, Cape Coral • Phone: 239-574-0808 • Email: tennisc@capecoral.net • Online: capeparks.com

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 35


« sports (continued)

» Golf Continued

private lessons, camps and clinics at the public Stoneybrook Golf Club in Estero and Kelly Greens Golf and Country Club in Fort Myers. He’s also a U.S. Kids Golf-certified coach among many other national and regional credentials and accreditations. Stoneybrook also offers many other ways for youngsters to tee up yearround and especially during summers, including a Tuesday girls’ program for ages 4-17, a Wednesday practice session for beginners, Thursday practices for a youth club team for more competitively minded 6- to 14-year-olds, and several programs on Saturdays. They were also scheduled to host a South Florida PGA Drive, Chip & Putt qualifying event for youngsters June 21, with the Vineyards Country Club in Naples hosting one July 23. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the qualifying events have been canceled and are expected to resume next summer. The Coral Oaks Junior Golf Association hosts a summer program with instruction and on-course play for ages 7-17 in various skill groups on six consecutive Mondays beginning June 8 at the Coral Oaks Golf Course in Cape Coral. It culminates with a Tournament of Champions on July 13. Cost is $30. Register online at capecoraljrgolf.org/registration. Alico Family Golf in south Fort Myers conducts eight, separate summer youth camps Monday through Friday beginning June 8 on both a full- and half-day basis. With hands-on instruction by certified PGA professionals, participants are organized based on their ability levels to create the most favorable learning environments.

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Top: Students got tips on chipping with iron clubs at an LPGA Girls Golf event clinic last summer. • Bottom: Sibo Kangwa’s summer camps at the Barbara Manzo Tennis Center in Three Oaks Park in south Fort Myers include lots of hitting drills.

» Tennis Continued

and Recreation Center in Lehigh Acres, and the Estero Park and Recreation Center. “It introduces some kids to tennis,” says USPTA Recreational Coach Bob Nelson, a former executive director of the LCCTA and a member for nearly two decades. He supervises the application of “mini-nets” in North Fort Myers. Some of the kids go on to play on the outdoor courts with him at Kurt Donaldson Community Park, formerly Hancock Community Park, in Cape Coral, where he often uses special, multi-colored tennis balls to add to the excitement for younger players. Swimming is combined with tennis for kids during summers at the Yacht Club Community Park in Cape Coral. Starting in early June through July, kids ages 4-6

spend an hour each on the courts and in the pool two days a week while ages 7-13 enjoy each activity for two hours at a time three days a week. All activities at Cape parks were canceled through April; check in at capeparks.com for updates on summer programs. Further, many of our area’s tennis clubs within residential communities conduct week-long junior camps during the summer for both members and nonmember families, including The Landings Yacht Golf & Tennis Club and Gateway Golf & Country Club, both in Fort Myers; The Forest Country Club in south Fort Myers; and The Club at Rapallo at Coconut Point, the West Bay Beach & Golf Club and Estero Country Club at The Vines, all in Estero.


well-being »

‘We are missing out on so much’ How to help your student — whether a senior or kindergartner — cope with a disappointing end to the school year. BY ANDREA STETSON competitions. Instead, the Class of 2020 wraps up with virtual learning, social media-only connections with friends and canceled celebrations. Becky Pacter, 17, a senior at Barron Collier High School, wrote a blog about her feelings. “We’re living through a piece of history,” she writes. “Unfortunately, it’s not a piece of history we anticipated nor wanted. This is our senior year we’re losing. This second half of the school year is supposed to be where we enjoy senior activities and enjoy our last few months

GETTY IMAGES

rom canceled. Grad Bash canceled. YMCA Grad Night canceled. Graduation, maybe canceled. For high school seniors, these were to be the pinnacle days of their secondary education. After 13 years of classes, homework and teachers, this was to be a time of celebration and graduation. A time of sharing memories with friends. A time of sports finales, band concerts and academic

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 37


« well-being (continued)

together, but instead we’re talking to each other through screens and learning from home with our siblings as classmates and parents as teachers.” Her blog goes on to list all the things she is missing, from her last band concert to her final track meets. She writes about the dress she bought for prom and the fear of graduation being canceled. Becky says she wrote the blog because she wanted an outlet for her feelings. “My friends and I were just talking about all the disappointments and my mom didn’t want to hear it. She said there were all sorts of bigger problems, so I just needed a place to vent,” she explains. “It is sad. It is just the year we have been looking forward to. This is our time to shine.” Ryan Logan, a senior at Island Coast High School in Cape Coral, is also devastated. “It is very disappointing that we are missing out on so much,” he says. “It is upsetting because we don’t have prom, we don’t have Grad Bash, as far as we know, we don’t have graduation.” Allison Ferraro, Collier County Public School’s coordinator of school counseling for grades 9-12, has some advice. “Students need to focus on their ac-

complishments because those accomplishments can never be taken away,” she says. Allison also stresses that this is a time to redefine what is important and perhaps do something important. Isaac Newton was sent home from Cambridge in 1665 during the bubonic plague in England, Allison points out. That was called his year of wonder. During that year at home, he discovered his theories of physics and gravity. While high school seniors might not be making world changing discoveries, Allison suggests they take the time to do something great. “Use this time to enrich ourselves rather than confine ourselves,” she says. “There is so much opportunity. Are they going to be pioneers and problem-solvers? Every generation has its defining moment.” Allison says school officials are also trying to define moments, especially graduation. “We are holding on to hope,” she said in early April. “Or maybe redefining the perspective of what that can be. When they have the opportunity to redefine what that celebration is, it could be better than expected. A lot of time we conform to society norms, but we can change that. This might give seniors

the opportunity to create something that has never been created before. If graduation or prom doesn’t occur, why shouldn’t you dress up and dance with your family? Why shouldn’t you have a special graduation dinner?” Becky is beginning to make plans like that. “There are a lot of seniors on my street,” she says. “We joke that if we don’t get to go to graduation, we will put up a skateboard ramp and walk in our pajama robes.” Olivia Thornhill, a Naples High School senior, is also looking for a new creative plan. “I will probably do something with my friends, maybe like a drive-thru (graduation) or if we do get no lockdown then I would probably have something at my house for me and my friends to celebrate with each other,” she says. “We can make our own graduation. The whole world is going through this together.” Allison hopes all students will try to look at the positive things, such as more family time. “They should not be so focused on what they are not having, but what they still have,” she explains. “It is not to focus so much on ‘This is happening to me.’ You are part of a time.”

“The first thing to do is to recognize that it sucks. It is damn sad. It is really horrible. You can’t minimize it. You can’t say it’s not that big of a deal. If parents join the kids in the feelings of loss, the children will process it in a healthier way. If you don’t validate it, they will feel like their feelings don’t count.” — STACEY BROWN

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well-being (continued) »

losses and give the seniors the opportunity to express how they are feeling and be present for their student and just listen to them,” she says. “Talk to them about different things they can do to celebrate their successes, maybe a virtual prom where they get dressed up and be on social media and take pictures. Ask them how they would like to celebrate these milestones and these successes.” Stacey Brown, a licensed mental health counselor in Fort Myers, says parent support is extremely important now. “The first thing to do is to recognize that it sucks,” she says. “It is damn sad. It is really horrible. You can’t minimize it. You can’t say it’s not that big of a deal. If parents join the kids in the feel-

ings of loss, the children will process it in a healthier way. If you don’t validate it, they will feel like their feelings don’t count.” Stacey explains that graduation, prom and other senior activities are more than just fun days. “It’s symbolic,” she says. “Rituals are a rite of passage. High school graduation means I am a real adult now. It is a marking point to adulthood.” After acknowledging all this, Stacey suggests finding ways to make this year special. “Maybe they can come up with things at the house like senior skip day from chores,” she suggests. “Adopt or foster animals. Figure out how to help health care workers. Process emotions by helping others.”

GETTY IMAGES

Allison advises parents to help their students through this time by supporting them. “Don’t minimize their feelings,” she stresses. “Acknowledge what they are going through.” Sherry Wenzel, coordinator of Mental Health Services for Lee County Public Schools agrees. “Basically what we have to recognize is it is like a grief and loss issue,” Sherry says. “They are grieving the loss of this transition time. This is the transition into adulthood. They are missing these events that are typically a part of that.” Sherry says parents are also feeling sad at the loss of these milestones but stresses that they need to be supportive. “The first thing is to recognize their

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« well-being (continued)

Debbie Moore, mother of Lexi Moore, a senior at Gulf Coast High School in Naples, says that is how her daughter is viewing things. “Graduation, she feels it is more us that would want it,” Debbie says. “She is handling it OK. It is whatever happens, happens. It is something she can’t control, and she knows that. She is not crying. She is not upset about the whole situation. She is just ready to go off to the next adventure and go to college.” Lexi plans to go to the University of Central Florida in August. In the meantime, she is finishing her senior year online, while also keeping busy with new activities. “I FaceTime with my friends,” she says. “I have been watching Netflix. I have been doing some art projects and puzzles.” Ryan also tries to keep busy to distract himself from these tough times. He has been running, working out at home and spending time with his family. “We have been playing Monopoly, doing a lot of reading, cooking together, talking — things we haven’t done for a long time because we had all been really busy,” he says. High school seniors aren’t the only ones who need guidance. Stacey says parents need to be just as supportive and understanding with younger children. “It’s the same thing. You just developmentally shift it a little bit,” Stacey says. “You still validate the loss and understanding of missing their friends and being trapped. So for a first-grader, you say, ‘I wish you could go to school, but we have some restrictions right now. It is not safe. There is a bad sickness that is going around. People are

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getting really sick, so we have to stay home.’ You give them the basic facts. You just wrap it in terms they can understand. The kids look to the parents for comfort and stability and they have a responsibility to keep them grounded. You don’t want to foster fear.” Allison agrees. “When our little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it is our job to share our calm and not join their chaos.” she says. “For younger ones, we want to acknowledge that things are different right now,” Sherry adds. “We need to make them feel safe. Ask them how they feel. They may be worried or scared. They may be worried about grandma or grandpa or they may be worried about themselves. Give them a chance to express themselves with an adult.” Stacey suggests family time. “This is such a wonderful opportunity to be together and do fun things,” she says. “Play games with each other. The National Park Service has uploaded beautiful tours you can take. The museums have virtual tours. There are so many ways to travel without leaving home. Nobody has ever dealt with this before, so we are all figuring this out.” The seniors are also trying to figure it all out. Ryan plans to go to the United States Military Academy at West Point in June. “It’s our last hurrah, and now it’s like, ‘Here, we are going to mail you your diploma.’ It is a real shame,” Ryan says. “I am the youngest in my family and I went to graduation for my brother and my sister and I saw them taking pictures and everyone is so proud. There are no words to describe

how disappointed I am that we might not get a graduation.” Olivia plans to attend Pace University in New York. “It’s definitely been hard,” Olivia says. “It sucks, yes, but we are all going through it together.” Becky is now looking forward to attending Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri. She is glad for all the happy memories of running track, playing flute and piccolo, playing at Carnegie Hall and excelling in school, but she is still sad. “Of course we know it could be worse,” Becky writes in one of her blogs. “We know and understand that some of you missed your graduation because you were being shipped off to Vietnam. But the thing is, we are kids, even though we don’t always want to admit it. Some of us have led sheltered lives, and this is our first hardknock-life lesson. Some of us have led miserably hard lives and this is just another disappointment. Regardless, we are upset. We have spent four years listening to our families and friends tell us how wonderful this year would be. We watched our siblings, friends, and family members go to prom and walk across the stage at graduation as we all cheered. We wanted the same. We won’t get it. It’s okay for us to be sad. Don’t scoff at us. Hold our hands. Let us grieve. We are hurting.” Becky is hurting about missing her letter-of-intent sports signing day. She is sad about missing Grad Bash and the YMCA after-graduation party. Most of all, she is hurting about possibly not having a graduation ceremony. “I am proud of the accomplishments that I have done,” she concludes, “but I wish I could have had this experience.”


cover story »

TOGETHER Never in our lifetimes have we been so apart yet so together. We are separated, not only by 6 feet and social distancing, but also by ideology, economics and perspective. We are also together. When filling out unemployment forms and re-examining family budgets, we know millions of Americans are in the same situation. When isolating at home, we know millions of others are, too. We acknowledge it in our social media posts and even in sidewalk chalk art. We’re finding ways to maintain our sanity and our connections. We’re even finding ways to help others. On the following pages, SW FL Parent & Child highlights these efforts.

Cherrie and Scott Hamilton, of Fort Myers, have been sheltering at home with 12 of their kids. “We stay home so our babies stay healthy. Several children in our home are considered medically fragile and catching this virus could cause them detrimental harm. Having adult children during this time is really difficult. We want to bring everyone home from all over and keep them safe. However, for the sake of our littles we cannot do that. This quarantine has changed our lives in so many ways. We are spending every day/all day together as a family. We are doing school at home as our days allow, being happy and healthy are our priority. ... We are playing outside more, bingeing (food and TV shows), and generally enjoying being together,” Cherrie says.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 41


« cover story (contintued) Pomp and circumstance

v

By Adam Regan, The News-Press

Filling the need to help “As we all are very concerned over the coronavirus affecting thousands, we felt the need to assist during this difficult time in Naples,” mom Hennika Burger tells us in an email. “My son William is 15 and has a fractured elbow, but even this won’t stop him to want to go and make a difference now. (He fractured his elbow while playing soccer in England the last nine weeks.) … William is assisting during weekdays with “Meals of Hope” in Naples and Bonita Springs currently. We use now a drivethrough system handing out meals. As you can imagine, the needs are high.”

Throughout Southwest Florida and across the country, the NCAA’s spring Signing Day had a different look. There were no tables decorated with college swag sitting in the middle of a crowded gymnasium or on stage at a jampacked auditorium. Instead, due to schools being closed and with Florida in the midst of a stay-at-home order from the governor, student-athletes celebrated their college signings at home with close family. That didn’t make it less special for athletes like Fort Myers High School runner Stephy Ormsby. The two-time News-Press Cross Country Runner of the Year finalist TOP: Riverdale wrestler Jesse Martinez signed a National Letter of Intent to committed to the University of continue her athletic career at the Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. BOTTOM: University of Florida. She and five other ECS forward Drew Tessier committed to Greenies solidified their futures in Southeastern University to continue his unique ways at home. basketball career. “I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to run for the University of Florida for the next four years. UF has been my dream school ever since I was a little girl and being able to run at coach (Yancey) Palmer’s alma matter makes this experience even more special,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to be the athlete I am today without the constant support from my family, Coach Palmer and the entire team, and for that I feel so incredibly blessed and cannot thank them enough. I hope to return the favor by making everyone proud and representing Fort Myers well. Go Gators.”

Sheriff’s Offices surprise birthday kids in Lee and Collier By Rachel Thomas, Naples Daily News It’s been a tough time for those of us with birthdays recently, especially those of us who are a little too young to understand why all the fun is suddenly canceled. Southwest Florida law enforcement officers have been going out of their way to help these disappointed birthday boys and girls have a great day, even if social distancing amid a global pandemic means they can’t have a party. The Collier County Sheriff’s Office wasn’t about to let Golden Gate’s Jaxson Perez miss out on the special law

42 » MAY 2020 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM

enforcement-themed birthday his family had been planning. Although Jaxson took it well when his mother told him the party was cancelled, the CCSO said in a Facebook post that Sheriff Kevin Rambosk still wanted to make the birthday boy’s day a memorable one. The sheriff, along with CCSO deputies Lt. Gary Martin and Sgt. Brian Williams, arrived at Jaxson’s home in official vehicles, lights flashing. One CCSO SUV even sported a “Happy Birthday Jaxson” banner in honor of the occasion. In a video posted by

the Sherriff’s Office last week, Jaxson shyly approaches them wearing a blue police uniform costume. “Give us a second Jaxson, we’re gonna sing you a song,” the sheriff says as “Happy Birthday” begins to play over the SUV’s loudspeaker. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office helped 12-year-old Kylie celebrate her birthday with a surprise parade. “Many children across the United States have had to cancel their birthday parties due to COVID-19. When we heard that a local 12-year old

girl had to cancel her birthday party and her friends and family were planning a birthday parade for her, we knew we wanted to be a part of it. We hope you had an amazing birthday, Kylie!” LCSO wrote in a post on the organization’s Facebook page. Photos posted on the LCSO Facebook page show a string of first responder vehicles passing by as the birthday girl stands beside a mailbox decorated with balloons. Civilian vehicles joined the mix, too, while occupants held “Happy Birthday Kylie!” posters.


cover story (contintued) » Front Porch Project The visual journalists of The News-Press and Naples Daily News have been collecting images and stories from throughout Southwest Florida to document daily life during the coronavirus pandemic — while also practicing social distancing. Many of the families were photographed on their front porch, in their yards and even through windows. The result can be seen on the newspapers’ websites, news-press.com and naplesnews.com. More Front Porch Project photos on page 44 »

ABOVE CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Darbylee Kreider, 6, dances with her parents, Matt and Deanna, on their front porch in Fort Myers. • John, Robert, 11, Leah, 9, and Jevnn Robinson, of Fort Myers • Caidence, 6, Tiffany and Cory Campbell • Todd, Crosby, Cooper and Anne Burik, of Fort Myers. “The stay home order has allowed us to be more focused on family and looking for fulfillment within our home and neighborhood. Though we have had to make adjustments in our lives largely regarding work and school, we have also realized what we once thought to be necessities are now just not. Many activities, events, things are not that important when trying to protect our health and those around us,” Anne says. • BELOW: Tamara “Joy” Hunter plays with her dog Storm as her husband Rodney Hunter III and son Ryan play catch in their backyard April 13 in Cape Coral.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 43


« cover story (contintued) CLOCKWISE FROM RIGHT: Garret, Jessica, Gavin, 7, and Maddie Copeland, 11, of Fort Myers. • Charlene Towe and her daughter Jaliyah, 11 months, of Fort Myers.“This really has allowed me to have a closer relationship with God and has shined light on to things I may have taken for granted. It’s definitely giving me more time to really focus on who and what is important in my life,” Charlene says. • Nathan, Cash, 4, Charley, 6, and Kelli Dunlap, of Fort Myers. “As the mother of a medically fragile 4-yearold, the stay at home order provides the bubble I’ve always desired. I have felt so much peace with my early decision that we would stay home. The most difficult challenge has been making the decision to separate our family part time while my husband works in the hospital supporting the respiratory department,” Kelli says. • Heather, 6, Elizabeth, Chaya, 10, and Jim Kroll, of Fort Myers.

Keep Dancing School isn’t the only education that moved to an online format. Dance Dimensions in Cape Coral took its classes to Zoom so that teachers can direct classes and offer individual instruction in real time. “So many kids need this,” says owner/instructor Misty Christopher. “They long for the consistency and stability of an activity that makes them happy. It’s their way to escape the anxiety of school, home or bullying.” If a student can’t “attend” a virtual class, the studio shares recordings online through a private Facebook page. The studio also added masterclasses from professionals through a partnership with CLI Studios. And budding dancers of all ages can see dance at home for free through the studio’s Facebook page. “We’re working around the clock to provide normalcy and structure for kids, but we’re here for the community too,” Misty says.

Emma Sanchez, 10, of Cape Coral takes dance classes online from home with Dance Dimensions of SWFL.

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cover story (contintued) » By Janine Zeitlin, The News-Press

Neighbors inspiring neighbors

Even while safely spaced at 6 feet apart, Southwest Florida residents are reaching out to encourage and inspire their neighbors.

Chalked gratitude

Pete the Cat, anyone?

Ken Andiorio felt a shot of brightness this week when he saw a chalked message at the end of his Naples driveway. “Karen, Thanks for being a NURSE!” Wow, what a nice thing, he thought. How grateful he was to be living in Victoria Park. He snapped a photo before heading to work. Karen, his wife of 31 years, was asleep inside. She’s a lactation nurse at North Naples Hospital, and recent weeks have been nerve-wracking for the couple, to say the least. “We’re in our 60’s, just barely,” said Ken, the activities coordinator at Barron Collier High School in Naples. “It just makes it a little scary.” Especially when news hit about a COVID-19 patient exposing dozens of employees at the hospital. Oh my gosh, he worried. He texted his wife. “Are you under quarantine? Are you exposed?” “Nope,” she wrote. “Sorry about being worried.” “No, I understand, we’re all worried.” On Tuesday, after seeing the driveway gratitude, Karen texted Ken: “Awesome!” Later, they mused about suspects. Maybe the neighbors across the street? Ken tweeted out photos of the message. “We all need to be looking for the positive things in the chaos going on right now.”

Jessica Copeland’s kids, 6 and 10, were running out of books one Tuesday morning. She imagined other families were, too. She needed a plan, a distraction from electronics threatening to rot their brains. We’ve got to find something else to do, she thought. On Tuesday morning, the family set up a table for books near the white picket fence around their Sunset Park home in Fort

Driveway moments What’s a birthday without a party for a kid? Jenn and John Robinson had planned a pool party for their son Robert’s 10th birthday on March 18. There were 592 water balloons at the ready. But a week before his birthday, the family began social distancing. They stowed away the balloons. Perhaps they could throw a halfbirthday party in September

Myers. Gavin, 6, and Madeline, 10, offered up old favorites. “Pete the Cat.” “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” A few adult books by Mitch Albom entered the mix. A sign in a child’s scrawl read: “Free kids books from beginers to big readers.” By the afternoon, several books had new owners. Another neighbor had set out books. Maybe, even more, would join.

There’s a bear in your window

Baylyn and Korbin Dobson, 6 and 8, put a plush in their window.

instead? The past few weeks have been tough for Robert and his sister Leah, 8. “Both kids miss their friends tremendously,” Jenn Robinson said. The pull for connection propelled a plan to distribute 60-some pieces of chalk to roughly 20 homes throughout their Jefferson Park neighborhood in Fort Myers. She and her son hopped on their bikes and dropped off a few pieces of chalk to each house, even with neighbors

A 4-foot teddy bear has been peeking out the upstairs window of Carrie Trepkowski’s two-story home in northwest Cape Coral. With four children, her family had plenty of bears to spare. She had seen the idea of putting teddy bears in windows so families with children could go on a bear hunt during walks. She shared it with her Coral Lakes neighbors and loaned out some bears for their windows.

they didn’t typically talk with or ones without kids. Through social media, where she saw the idea, she suggested neighbors write encouraging messages on driveways and sidewalks. Her kids designed a hopscotch. They wrote: “You are amazing.” “Welcome.” By that evening, neighbors began drawing. More followed. One chalked an image of the fish Dory with the message: “Just keep swimming.” “If u can’t find the sunshine,

be the sunshine,” said another. A man placed cardboard beneath his knees and set to work on a heart that resembled a masterful tattoo. Across it, he sketched: “Hope.” Earlier this week, there was another birthday in the neighborhood. It was a friend of Robert and Leah. They chalked messages in her driveway. “Happy 9th B-day.” “Hope it’s a great day.” From the front porch, the girl watched with a smile.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 45


« safety corner LISETE MOR A LES

Even swimmers drown Teaching a child how to swim is important, but parents and caregivers can do more to prevent drowning.

D

on’t worry! My kid knows how to swim.” We hear this expression from parents all the time. This is because we have made sure our kids know how to swim. Indeed, swimming reduces the chances of drowning, but there is a lot more to do and watch for in order to keep our most precious and vulnerable ones safe when in or around water. In the state of Florida, 64 children died in 2019 due to drowning. Drowning is a terrible, yet 100% preventable cause of death that affects our youngest population. Learning how to swim has an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning for children 1 to 4 years old. However, “swim lessons alone will not prevent drowning and that even the most proficient swimmers can drown,” say the authors of a study from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development led by Dr. Ruth A. Brenner. » Kids should never swim alone or without adult supervision regardless of their swimming proficiency. » Life jackets should be the best friends for kids who don’t swim proficiently or for those swimmers who are in the learning process. » When boating, life jackets should be worn by everyone, including adults. Let’s not forget that we are being observed by those little eyes, and our behavior will someday become theirs.

» Check that your life jackets are U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vests and make sure that they fit appropriately. Note that water wings are not U.S Coast Guardapproved. There are also other factors to take into consideration while enjoying time in the water, especially in pools. Pools are fun areas where families can share, celebrate and cool off. With so much activity in and around pools, it is very easy to get distracted. For best practice and safety, someone needs to be the designated water watcher. Look around the pool and make sure that there are enough layers of protection in place. » Pools should be surrounded with a pool fence that’s at least 5 feet tall; check that there are no holes or gaps. » A gate should be self-closing, selflatching, and should open outward away from the pool. » House doors and windows should have alarms and childproof locks. » A pool alarm will make a warning sound if motion is detected in water. » Pool safety covers may be used. They need to be very tight or custom built for the pool to assure safety. » In addition, never leave toys in the water and make sure that the pool drains are up to code. These recommendations can also be made to your local community pools to

Lisete Morales is a child advocate for the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

46 » MAY 2020 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM

protect our children. All parents and caregivers should consider learning how to perform CPR. Children who receive immediate CPR poolside due to a near drowning incident have a greater chance for survival and a better outcome. It’s worth it! Keep in mind, that drowning not only happens in deep water; it can happen with just 1 inch of water. One inch of water is deep enough to cause an accident. That’s why it is very important to remember that once bath time is over, immediately drain the tub. To further prevent a drowning accident in your home, empty all tubs, buckets, containers and wading pools immediately after use. Store them upside down and out of children’s reach. Keep toilet lids closed and use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning. Keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed. There are many entities devoted to spreading the word and bringing awareness to our community. At the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, we are very proud to be the lead agency for the Safe Kids Southwest Florida coalition. We are committed to educating the community and assisting with resources to prevent water-related accidents in our area. Our goal is for a ZERO drowning community and our promise is to do our best to promote water safety so we can to get there.

Safe Kids is a nonprofit coalition of agencies and organizations dedicated to eliminating preventable childhood injuries. Visit safekidsswfl.org.


family album »

Zoom into school » Kindergarten teacher Marylin Prysi goes over sight words with her students on Zoom on

March 24 at Villas Elementary School in Fort Myers. She said her students began reaching out to her, so she set up Zoom meetings to check on them. Photo by Amanda Inscore

Staying connected » The Immokalee

Buddy Day » More than 125 second-graders from Immokalee

explored coastal habitat on Marco Island during the Guadalupe Center’s 28th annual Buddy Day on February 17. Here, the kids participate in the Buddies on the Run game.

Foundation mentoring program has been keeping mentors and students connected through technology. The foundation secured 70 laptops in two days to distribute to students who otherwise wouldn’t have internet access.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 47


Sweet dose of cute » Submitted

by mom Emma Marino, of Cape Coral, this photo is just too cute not to share. Ari is the little sister of Jaiden Marino, who modeled for our December 2018 cover. Sweetness runs in the family.

48 » MAY 2020 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM


family album »

Send Us Your Snapshots

Lifeline »

The Lifeline Family Center raised more than $212,000 at a benefit dinner with radio evangelist Tony Evans. Clockwise from top left: Dawn Carvotta and board member Camille Herdoiza, Lifeline founder and CEO Kathy Miller and Tony Evans, sponsor Dee Horne and the Rev. Connie Weisel, board treasurer Britney Whitman with vice-chair Fred Atkins.

WordMasters » Community School of

Naples third-grader Ariana Sharma earned a perfect score of 20 in the second of three meets in this year’s WordMasters Challenge, a national vocabulary competition involving nearly 125,000 students annually. CSN fifth-grader Jarmea Bak also achieved outstanding results.

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

At the Olympics »

Dr. Patrick Joyner, an orthopaedic sports medicine physician at OrthoCollier in Naples, volunteered as a Team U.S.A. doctor for the 2020 Youth Olympic Winter Games in January in Switzerland. “It was a huge honor to be part of the three-person volunteer medical team,” he says.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 49


TIPS FOR SURVIVING A MULTIGENERATIONAL

ROAD TRIP

The do’s and don’ts of planning a successful vacation with extended family. BY TRICIA

50 » MAY 2020 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM

GETTY IMAGES

O’CONNOR


travel »

unkering in with my immediate family — and being forced to avoid my parents — during the COVID-19 outbreak has reminded me how important grandparents are to me and my children. The pandemic has also, unfortunately, thrown our annual summer multigenerational vacation plans into the air. Over the past two years, my parents, me and my children have squeezed into a vehicle and taken a road trip to a series of new destinations. The first summer we began our journey in Great Falls, Montana, and cruised and camped our way through Glacier National Park before settling into a dude ranch in Idaho. Last summer, we wound our way through several Southern states making entertaining, educational and active stops along the way. Most were planned, some were spontaneous. These holidays have created some of our most treasured memories as a family. We’ve also learned a thing or two. Here are some tips you may find helpful if you’re planning a multigenerational getaway.

summer.

GETTY IMAGES

The O’Connor family plans a multigenerational road trip every

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 51


« travel (continued)

Do find out favorite activities ahead of time.

With three generations spanning ages 6 to 74 on this last trip, we knew it was important for each person to have at least one primary activity or destination. A quick poll showed my children wanted activities like horseback riding and fishing, my father wanted history, my mother wanted beautiful scenery and hiking, and I wanted to revisit some tourist traps I remembered from my childhood. I came up with a tentative itinerary that included stops in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee. Among our list of attractions was the Kennedy Space Center, Biltmore, a ranch in the Smoky Mountains and an underground cavern. By giving everyone a chance to participate in the planning of the trip, each person had

52 » MAY 2020 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM

at least one activity (usually more) that they eagerly anticipated.

Don’t drive longer than 5 hours at a time. With two children under 8, capping our drive time was a strategic move to stave off boredom, fast food and too much screen time. It may not work for your family, and that’s OK. Setting a driving limit also helped my kids understand our estimated arrival time. Although they were just beginning to grasp the concept of timekeeping, they were able to connect that two movies almost equaled our driving time for the day. This kept the dreaded “Are we there yet?” question to a minimum. We also ate and slept better by not spending too much time behind the wheel.

Do find a hotel that includes breakfast. There are several hotel chains in the 2- to 3-star range that include breakfast. As Hilton Honors members (a loyalty program), our choice for this trip was Hampton by Hilton. We received a small discount through the Honors program, and we knew they had an expansive, and warm, breakfast buffet. Just as our activity choices were varied, so are our diets. I don’t eat meat, my father gobbles it down, my mother is super healthy, and sometimes my children will only eat syrup. The Hampton breakfast buffet kept everyone satisfied and allowed us (I mean, me and the kids) to eat in our pajamas.

Do eat dinner early This one could also be called “Don’t Underestimate How Fun a Hotel Is,”


travel (continued) » The O’Co n a multige nor family plans neration al trip every summer. road

Family favorites Looking for destinations that all generations will enjoy? Here are some of the O’Connor family’s favorites.

NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex: Merritt

Island, Florida • Online: kennedyspacecenter. com

Biltmore: Asheville, North Carolina • Online: biltmore.com Oconaluftee Indian Village:

especially if that hotel has a pool, or even better, a water slide. Even if you have these things at home, there is something fresh and fun about getting to explore them at a new destination each night. My kids couldn’t wait to check out each new hotel and see what amenities were available. Therefore, we tried our best to eat dinner no later than 6 p.m. so the kids always had some pool playtime before bed. Sometimes we ate out, a couple times we ordered in through a food delivery service (Door Dash tracked my location and offered discount coupons to local restaurants and national chains). Even though eating early meant leaving some attractions before closing time, that peaceful evening poolside together was something each of us looked forward to.

Don’t forget to try new things. Although our trip was relatively planned out, we still left plenty of time for spontane-

ous exploration. The Biltmore mansion itself bored the kids, so we decided to check out the farm instead. They loved the chickens and a blacksmithing demonstration. Our Smoky Mountains trip wouldn’t have been the same without discovering the Oconaluftee Indian Village, an 18th century-themed Eastern Cherokee village, during a cool, rainy day. While Ruby Falls, a massive underground waterfall, initially drew us to Chattanooga, it was the views at Rock City Gardens that really stole our breath. And a last-minute stop at The Battles for Chattanooga museum and gift shop was a thrilling surprise for all of us. Five thousand miniature soldiers, 650 lights, and a digitally projected three-dimensional map with accompanying audio track tell the incredible history of the city’s Civil War battles. My children were glued to their seats and afterward begged to explore nearby Point Park, site of the famous Battle Above the Clouds. These multigenerational getaways always turn out better than any of us expect. Fingers crossed we’ll all get to experience our summer holidays this year.

Cherokee, North Carolina • Online: visitcherokeenc.com/ play/attractions/ oconaluftee-indianvillage

Cataloochee Ranch: Maggie Valley, North Carolina • Online: cataloocheeranch.com

Rock City Gardens: Lookout Mountain, Georgia • Online: seerockcity.com

Ruby Falls:

Chattanooga, Tennessee • Online: rubyfalls.com

Incline Railway:

(Lookout Mountain Station) Lookout Mountain, Tennessee • Online: ridetheincline.com

The Battles of Chattanooga

Lookout Mountain, Tennessee • Online: battlesforchattanooga. com

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 53


« around town

EVENTS GO ONLINE Southwest Florida attractions and organizations stepped up in the last month or more to provide events and entertainment that families can enjoy at home (much of it educational, too — bonus!). Here are a few:

Daily science lesson The Rookery Bay Research Reserve in Naples is taking events online every week day in May. Learn about nature, wildlife and the waters of Southwest Florida with Rookery Bay’s Virtual Education Programming on the organization’s Facebook page, facebook.com/FriendsofRookeryBay. Look for videos, tours and downloadable activities. May 3-8 has a theme of fish, and May 10-15 is marine invertebrates.

Weekly mental health boosts Every Monday, usually at 4 p.m., Kids’ Minds Matter hosts a livestream series on Facebook to help families get expert mental health advice, resources and at-home activities for the kids. The Mental Health Mondays series is a collaboration between Lee Health and Southwest Florida mental health advocates. The segments, which are less than an hour, feature psychologists, therapists, physicians, child advocates as well as other art, mind and body professionals to help parents and guardians with their child’s mental health. The videos are scheduled to run through the end of May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month. For more information, visit kidsmindsmatter.com or call 239-214-0921.

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Tiny Theatre This one might be more for moms and dads (hey, how about a date night? In your own closet? You’ll see…). Husband and wife acting team Brendan Powers and Rachel Burttram usually perform onstage at Florida Repertory Theatre and Theatre Conspiracy in Fort Myers. With all the theaters closed, though, they decided to convert a bedroom closet into their own Tiny Theatre — complete with a stage. Three days a week, they perform scenes, plays and monologues sent by their playwright friends. There’s even a “talkback” with the audience after each show. They perform at 9 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday with the page going live at 8:55 p.m. Check it out at facebook.com/closetatrachelandbrendans.


calendar »

PRESCHOOL & VPK

SHAKE IT UP

These pages are typically where readers find family events galore. With most families limiting social contact due to coronavirus concerns, however, we don’t have many to report, and those that haven’t announced cancellations or postponement are still too tenuous to commit to print. That doesn’t mean venues and organizations in Southwest Florida aren’t busy. Quite the opposite. They’re busy creating fun things to do for families online — and most of it is free. Another bonus: Many of these resources will continue to be available as venues open, so save this list for rainy days. Here you go — a list of things to do online:

DANCE

RESALE & CONSIGNMENT

Celebrating Since 1951

All Ages

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

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

Conservancy of Southwest Florida Families and schools often turn to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida to learn about nature and how to protect the local environment. The nature center staff takes that mission online with lesson plans, hands-on activities, videos, scavenger hunts, guided virtual walks and resources at conservancy.org/virtual-learning.

C’mon The Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples created Play & Learn, a free online program to help families continue to learn and have fun while the museum is temporarily closed. You can access it through C’mon’s YouTube channel, Facebook page, Instagram TV and the museum’s website, cmon.org.

Naples Zoo The Naples Zoo was one of the first attractions to offer free online learning options. Live videos launch at 9:15 a.m. Staff takes viewers on virtual tours of the Naples Zoo and provides numerous educational videos and activities. Access them via the zoo’s Facebook page or YouTube channel. Learn more at napleszoo.org.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 55


« calendar

(continued)

Sanibel Sea School

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

The Sanibel Sea School is sending out educational e-newsletters three times a week. Each Nature Near You email provides a different lesson, ways to explore nature in your own backyard and additional resources. Plus, on Tuesdays, the school offers a Creature Feature and, on Thursdays at noon, its educators host a live session on Facebook and Instagram. See the archives and sign up for future newsletters at sanibelseaschool.org/nature-near-you.

Busch Gardens and Sea World are sharing their educational resources, including classroom activities, teacher’s guides and videos for parents, students and teachers to access online at seaworld.org and at x.m.seaworld.com/ats/msg.aspx?sg1=44b61b0871f76421 5e703c4bc4f78385.

Love Your Rebellion

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Poets, here’s your outlet. Love Your Rebellion developed Poetry for the People, a free virtual workshop that refines poetry skills and connects poets, perfect for teens. It’s led by LYR founder Angela Page. While the workshops were hosted on Zoom every Thursday from April 9 to May 7, the 60-minute sessions were recorded and uploaded to LYR’s social media channels. While they are free, donations are appreciated for this nonprofit arts program. Learn more at loveyourrebellion.org/poetry-for-the-people.

Florida Space Coast icon the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is sharing daily Facebook Live video experiences and at-home activities that relate to all sorts of space topics. Presentations are at 9:30 a.m. Monday through Friday for younger children and 1 p.m. for young adults. Each presentation is followed by a question-and-answer period. You can also find downloadable activities at kennedyspacecenter.com/camps-and-education/educatorresources.

Marco Island Historical Society

PBS Kids

Explore historical artifacts and learn about local history through the Marco Island Historical Society’s History at Home web page. There are coloring pages and other printables, activities you can do at home and an open “door” to the museum’s 19,000 objects, photos and artwork through an online database. Visit virtually at themihs.org.

IMAG History & Science Center Kids can enjoy the fun, educational lessons found at the IMAG History & Science Center online through the IMAG@ HOME program. It’s focused on STEM education and local history, and it’s free to all ages. Find lessons, meet-the-keeper live animal encounters, shows, DIY activities and more on the center’s Facebook page. Learn more at theimag.org.

Edison and Ford Winter Estates The Edison and Ford Winter Estates launched a video series called “Edison Ford Goes Viral.” It’s full of history and science. Find it on the Estates’ Facebook page, @EdisonFordFL.

Naples Botanical Garden The Naples Botanical Garden is posting educational materials to its website at naplesgarden.org. Read about the different plants in the gardens, find fun activities and tasty recipes, or ask a gardener your plant questions.

56 » MAY 2020 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM

PBS Kids created a free daily email newsletter with educational activities for parents of young children. Today's newsletter can be found at pbs.org and parents can sign up for the newsletter at public.pbs.org/ PBSKIDSDaily. In addition to the newsletter, PBS Kids has other resources, too, such as tips for how parents and children can de-stress during times of uncertainty and tips on how to talk with children about COVID-19.

American Kennel Club The American Kennel Club and the AKC Museum of the Dog created free printable activities and coloring pages for kids to use while at home during the quarantine plus helpful articles for families with dogs. Find them at akc.org.

Embry-Riddle Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University ramped up free online course offerings for students in grades K-12. Topics range from aeronautics and meteorology to computer applications and history. Courses include "Aviation is Your Future," "Introduction to Aviation," "Introduction to Computers & Applications," "Foundations of Biology" and "Introduction to Sociology."

SynDaver SynDaver in Tampa — maker of SynFrog, a synthetic frog with dissectible organs — offered a free instructorled frog dissection course via Facebook Live on March 31. More courses are in the works.


Arseli Kurt and Laura Haslinger are foreign exchange students in the U.S. as sophomores at Seacrest Country Day School in Naples.

voices »

GUEST COLUMN

Far from home during a global pandemic

A

rseli Kurt and Laura Haslinger are both exchange students who are spending their sophomore year of high school at Seacrest Country Day School in Naples. Seacrest, like other Florida schools, has transitioned to an online learning curriculum. Both Arseli, from Turkey, and Laura, from Austria, live with a local host family, SW FL Parent & Child contributor Tricia O’Connor and her two children. We’ve asked Arseli and Laura to share their experience living far from home during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Laura: It is extremely emotionally confusing. I would have never thought in the beginning, when this whole virus thing was just some headline in a newspaper “Dangerous Virus Outbreak in Wuhan Province, China” that it would affect my exchange year to this extent. It started when my school trip to France was canceled at the end of February. “Well, my French teacher is just paranoid, completely overreacting,” I told myself and laughed about it with my best friend, Luisa, who was also on an exchange year in Arizona. One week later President Trump suspended all travel from Europe. Then the cases in my home coun-

try Austria started to dramatically rise, the Austrian foreign ministry announced they urgently wanted all Austrians traveling or living abroad home. Every day, for about 10 days I spent an hour on the phone with my parents weighing our options about me staying in the U.S. or just to leave everything, pack my stuff, and take the next possible flight to Vienna. Over these days almost all the other exchange students who I knew from home or orientation decided to leave as fast as possible while airplanes were still landing in Europe, including Luisa. Regardless, my parents and I continually decided the smartest decision was for me to stay, even though it was definitely the harder one to make. So yes, it has been very hard for me to be away from home during all this mostly because so many of my friends made a different decision and my parents got more and more worried about me, not because I might get the virus, but if something would happen and they couldn’t be here.

Arseli: This was completely unexpected and at first, like Laura, I didn’t think the virus was going to be this dangerous. But after hearing more about it, we talked as a family and decided to act carefully like instructed. I thought if everyone did that we could get

over this fast. It didn’t go that way. As this got more serious, my country, Turkey, like all the others, also started to take some action and started to close their borders to noncitizens. I started talking to my parents, my host mom, and my teachers, and we all agreed it was best for me to stay here in my safe home where we were all cautious and careful instead of flying home with a 14-hour flight and touring airports which was the worst place to be anyway. I was happy with this decision and I was also relieved in a way; to make a decision to go home that fast and try to adjust to a new way of life at home would’ve messed me up. I also wanted to finish my year and not leave early. Even if that sounds really self-ish and unimportant with all of this going on, it is true. Now that we’re practicing social distancing and staying home, I see that staying here was the better decision and it was best I didn’t travel and take a risk. Being away from home in this scenario is worrying, but the good part is that I get to talk to my parents more since I’m home and not at school. They’re also quarantining. They’re spending time in their garden, watching shows, baking, cooking and all that kind of stuff. Since I know they’re safe and I can even FaceTime them for five minutes every day, this is not such a bad situation. It is just an experience.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 57


» last look

WE WILL TRIUMPH Nicholas Ackerman, 7, of Fort Myers, “dabs” while Nikki Mallous and Keven Ackerman look on. “We are pretty much homebodies, so the stay at home order hasn’t been too bad, all things considered. We’re happy to do our part and stay home to prevent others from getting sick and to protect our family. I do miss seeing my parents regularly and being able to give them hugs! They are in their 80s, so we are taking the stay at home order and social distancing seriously so that we don’t pass anything along to them. We are also very thankful for the family time we are getting with our son,” Nikki says.

PHOTO BY AMANDA INSCORE

58 » MAY 2020 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM


Camp IMAG

June 8 to August 7 REGISTER ONLINE TODAY AT

theIMAG.org

When School Is Out, Camp Is In!

Camp IMAG offers children a fun, exciting, and educational curriculum blending Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) with History and Art in new themed weekly sessions with hands-on activities, games, crafts, exhibit explorations, and more to inspire the imagination and encourage a love of learning! Camps are designed for rising K - 8th grade students and are divided into rising K - 1st graders, rising 2nd - 3rd graders, rising 4th - 5th graders, and rising 6th - 8th graders. The IMAG also offers a Junior Camp Assistant Training Program for rising 9th - 12th grade students.

HISTORY & SCIENCE CENTER 2000 Cranford Avenue | Fort Myers, FL 33916 | 239.243.0043 | theIMAG.org Tuesday - Saturday 10AM - 5PM | Sunday 12PM - 5PM | Closed Monday

© the IMAG 2020

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MAY 2020 » 59


Your heart care heroes.

Dedicated to saving little lives every day. leehealth.org/pediatric-cardiology

Because every child is special.

Profile for SWFL Parent & Child Magazine

SWFL Parent & Child May 2020  

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