‘Ding’ Darling Announces Schedule For Free Nature Wellness Week

As part of National Mental Health Month, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, with support from the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge, has released the calendar of events for Nature Wellness Week 2023. The second annual event takes place May 3 through 9 at refuge venues and throughout the community, including Lakes Park and Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers.

Highlights of the week will range from nature-healing lectures by nationally noted speakers and a Food Forest Wellness Fest at FGCU, to mindfulness walks on Wildlife Drive and Boot Camp. Guest lecturers include Dr. Geraldine V. Oades-Sese, child resilience psychologist, and Dr. Joe Blanda, healing-through-nature advocate. The schedule is listed below and at dingdarling.eventbrite.com, where you can register free-of-charge for the events.

“People protect the things they care about,” said Ranger Jessica Barry, who leads the refuge wellness program with mindfulness volunteer Cristina Shaul. “The purpose of ‘Ding’ Darling’s Nature Wellness Week is not only to expose individuals to the healing powers of nature, but also, to promote the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s mission of conservation by cultivating a community with a deeper, more meaningful relationship to also to promote the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s mission of conservation by cultivating a community with a deeper, more meaningful relationship to their planet.”

Stay tuned to dingwellness.com to learn more about Nature Wellness Week activities, how to register, and the overall refuge wellness program.

“Last year’s Wellness Week was such a success, we wanted to bring it back, along with the mindfulness activities we’ve offered throughout the year,” said Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland. “When the refuge closed after Hurricane Ian in September, we looked for ways to benefit the traumatized community, who needed that connection with nature to help heal. We partnered with Sanibel Rec as part of our Mobile Mindfulness initiative and are building on the success we had with the self-guided mindfulness trail at the Bailey Tract by expanding our mindfulness-oriented audio recordings at the refuge and along Wildlife Drive. Participants will get a sneak peek of that during Nature Wellness Week.”

Wellness Week receives support from LCEC and Florida Arts & Culture.

(Schedule subject to change)
Pre-register for free at dingdarling.eventbrite.com

• J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island
Visitor & Education Center – “Ding” Darling Visitor & Education Center
• WEB – Wildlife Education Boardwalk
• Wildlife Drive
• Bailey Tract
• Lakes Park, Fort Myers
• FGCU – Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers

7-8 a.m. – Sunrise Yoga, Lakes Park
8:30-9:30 a.m. – Gentle Flow Yoga, Lakes Park
10-11 a.m. – Ranger-led Slow Birding Walk, Lakes Park
12-1:30 p.m.- “The Nature Prescription: Simple Strategies for Healing in Nature on Sanibel” Lecture by Dr. Joe Blanda, Visitor & Education Center

8:30-9 a.m. – Meditate Among the Mangroves, WEB
9:30-10:15 a.m. – Mindful Birding with Dr. Geraldine V. Oades-Sese, WEB

8-9 a.m. – Burnin’ Bootcamp, Bailey Tract
9-10 a.m. – Guided Mindful Nature Walk, Bailey Tract
4-8 p.m. – Food Forest Wellness Fest, FGCU

8:30-9:30 a.m. – Ranger-guided Slow Birding Bike Tour, Wildlife Drive
9-10 a.m. – Pre-lecture Brunch Buffet with Dr. Geraldine V. Oades-Sese, Visitor & Education Center
10-11 a.m. – “Rising from the Storm: How Birds & People Built Resilience After the Storm” Lecture by Dr. Geraldine V. Oades-Sese, Visitor & Education Center
12-2 p.m. – Make-and-Take Tree Beads with Artist in Residence Jacqui Roch, Visitor & Education Center

8-9 a.m. – Ranger-led Caravan, Wildlife Drive
7-7:30 p.m. – Virtual Guided Mindfulness Meditation, Zoom

9-9:30 a.m. – Meditate Among the Mangroves, WEB

8-9 a.m. Burnin’ Bootcamp, Bailey Tract
10-11:30 a.m. – Mindful Nature Journaling: Finding Peace in Art & Nature, Indigo Trail & WEB

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 239-292-0566 or director@dingdarlingsociety.org.

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