DDWS Announces Wellness Week Schedule; Registration Open

provided to The Santiva Chronicle

Sit in on outdoor yoga sessions led by esteemed nature yogi Kim Sowinski.

As part of its 40th anniversary celebration this year and to connect individuals with the natural world, the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge presents Wellness Week: Mind. Body. Heart. Feb. 7-12. In partnership with the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Tarpon Bay Explorers, and the Sanibel Recreation Center’s Heart Healthy Month, Wellness Week kicks off with a ribbon cutting for the new self-guided Mindfulness Trail at the Bailey Tract with the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce.

Other highlights include Refuge Bootcamp, a ranger-led bike tour of Wildlife Drive, sunrise yoga at the beach, guest expert speakers on healing through nature, discounts on paddling tours, and guided mindfulness walks. See the calendar of activities below.

“Wellness Week makes that connection between physical and mental health and the healing properties of being out in the natural world,” said Jessica Barry, DDWS development and outreach assistant and project leader. “We are excited to debut our Mindfulness Trail, which has evolved from an activity the refuge began in 2020 in response to the impact the pandemic was having on people’s mental state and on refuge programming.”

“We are grateful for Jess and others for encouraging us to enhance the work at the Refuge in the area of true mindfulness in nature,” said supervisory refuge ranger Toni Westland. “It has resulted in this wonderful Bailey Tract trail with QR codes and podcasts so hikers can self-guide their mindful journey. We also welcome three visiting nature therapy guides, who will be leading hikes and presentations that week.”

Guest presenters include Dr. Joseph Blanda, a recently retired orthopedic surgeon who now helps people with wellbeing and mindfulness; Cristina Shaul, who leads guided meditation and mindfulness walks; and Kim Sowinski, who teaches ayurveda-inspired nature yoga in Cleveland, Ohio. Tarpon Bay Explorers will be offering a 10 percent discount on kayak and paddleboarding tours to any who mentions Wellness Week.

Visit dingwellness.com for information and to learn how to pre-register for all activities.


8 a.m.-5 p.m. 10 percent off kayak and paddleboard tour at Tarpon Bay Explorers with mention of Wellness Week (last rentals of the day at 3 p.m.)

9-10 a.m. Guided Mindfulness Hike at Bailey Tract
12:30-2:30 p.m. Mindfulness Trail Ribbon Cutting with Chamber of Commerce and Pop-up Stations
4 p.m. Virtual Guided Mindfulness Meditation

7-8 a.m. Sunrise Yoga on the Beach at Perry Tract
9-10 a.m. Sunrise Yoga on the Beach at Perry Tract
10-11 a.m. Mindful Nature Journaling on Indigo Trail
11-11:45 a.m. Refuge Bootcamp
12-12:45 p.m. Refuge Bootcamp
3-4 p.m. Wildlife Olympics on Indigo Trail

10-11:30 a.m. Ranger-led Bike the Refuge
11-11:45 a.m. Refuge Bootcamp
12-12:45 p.m. Refuge Bootcamp
2-2:45 p.m. Refuge Bootcamp
5-5:30 p.m. Virtual Guided Zoom Mindfulness Meditation

8-9 a.m. Morning Yoga at the Refuge
10-11 a.m. Morning Yoga at the Refuge
7 p.m. Virtual “Nature Can Heal” presentation by Dr. Blanda

8:30-9:30 a.m. Guided Mindfulness Meditation at the Wildlife Education Boardwalk
10-11 a.m. Ornitherapy Lecture by author Holly Merker at The Community House
4-5 p.m. Guided Mindfulness Hike at Bailey Tract

8:30-9:30 a.m. Walking Meditation, Earthing, and Grounding 101 at Bailey Tract
11 a.m.-12 p.m. Paint a Planter with Resident Artist Rachel Pierce
1-2 p.m. Paint a Planter with Resident Artist Rachel Pierce

As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, DDWS works to support J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s mission of conservation, wildlife and habitat protection, research, and public education through charitable donations and Refuge Nature Shop profits. To support DDWS and the refuge with a tax-deductible gift, visit dingdarlingsociety.org or contact Birgie Miller at 239-472-1100 ext. 4 or director@dingdarlingsociety.org.

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