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Cocoa Beach, Florida: The Hidden GEM

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Cocoa Beach: Become Unhidden in Space Exploration

Exploring Space Camps and More

If you are into natural scenery, exploring history, or the future of science & space, then Cocoa Beach, Florida is an exquisite place to visit? This magnificent gem of a city encompasses adventure and opportunities that are endless.

I had forgotten how unique Cocoa Beach, Florida was until my little explorer watched the amazing movie, Hidden Figures. Three brilliant African-American women at NASA — Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) — serve as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell). This is notably one of America’s stunning achievements that restored the nation’s confidence all while, galvanizing the world. After that, it sparked my son’s little brain to want to know what other hidden figures could have been a part of space and how could he be a part of this adventure. His curiosity caused me to research the Kennedy Space Center Space Camp opportunities which brought us to Cocoa Beach, Florida.

Kennedy Space Camp is surrounded by one of the nation’s largest research parks. Its alumni include NASA astronauts, scientists, and engineers. The program is open to second grade through high school students. The day camp offers immersive experiences in space, aviation, robotics, and cyber technologies. Space Camp activities include rocket construction, simulated launches to the International Space Station, and the design and construction of a Mars colony.

Would you like your child to be more interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)? Do they already have their head in the stars and dream about one day visiting Mars? Or one day returning to the moon? Here are some unique camp experiences relating to space in Florida, Alabama, and Virginia that your kids can begin their adventure in learning more about the past and future of space and opportunities for future careers in STEM.

Space Camp Experiences If your kids are visionaries about the stars or simply display an interest in wanting a more focused camping experience, one of these space camps may be a good fit.

Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s Space Coast is across the river from Cape Canaveral, the site of many exciting rocket launches. The Kennedy Space Center weeklong day camps immerse campers in STEM-based activities as they problem-solve for mission planning. Kids may tour the interactive Kennedy Space Center, participate in astronaut training and spend a virtual day on Mars. Sessions open in early June and run through July. Programs are available for second through eleventh-grade students. Tuition includes lunch and snacks. The camp offers transportation from Orlando, Satellite Beach, West Melbourne, and Viera, Florida.

Virginia Space Flight Academy
Virginia Space Flight Academy is designed for middle school students aged 11 – 15. This residential camp holds weeklong sessions that end with graduation from the Space Flight Academy. Campers learn rocketry by building their own rocket using CAD design and 3D printers. In the Robotics program, kids are challenged to design robots using Lego Mindstorm kits. Camp activities include field trips to the nearby NASA Wallops Flight Facility, the NOAA weather facility and the Navy’s Surface Combat System Center. In the evening, a variety of activities ensures campers don’t miss out on traditional summertime fun such as miniature golf, go-cart racing, and trips to the ice cream stand.

U.S. Rocket and Space Center The program is open to fourth grade through high school students. The residential camp offers immersive experiences in space, aviation, robotics, and cyber technologies. Space Camp activities include rocket construction, simulated launches to the International Space Station, and the design and construction of a Mars colony. Special programs are offered for hearing, visually impaired, and other special needs campers.

My son cannot stop expressing how much fun he had at this camp and learning about the amazing exploration adventures that NASA has planned for their future on earth and beyond. We are scheduled again for next year and look forward to the long-lasting memories we shared while visiting Cocoa Beach, Florida.

The nice thing about Kennedy Space Camp being in Cocoa Beach, Florida the Space camp experience can be an opportunity for a great family getaway for the parents! There were so many families who dropped off their children at Kennedy Space Center where they could relax knowing they were going to have an amazing time! Parents could have a relaxing time together exploring Cocoa Beach during the day and still make it back to pick up your children from camp all while still having time for a family outing in the evenings. You will not want to miss if you are looking for some adult time!

Cocoa Beach: Family Bonding Time

Adventures for You & Your Family

Cocoa Beach, FL is probably best known for its beautiful beach, famous surf breaks, and proximity to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. It is the perfect destination for a family vacation when their children are in a space camp. Cocoa Beach has so many activities you will not have time to do it all, but you can try! One of the must-see and do places when visiting this unique historic city is going to the Cocoa Beach Pier that stretches 800 feet over the Atlantic and features a variety of gift shops, bars, restaurants, and live music.

If you are a family who loves the water look no further Cocoa Beach has every kind of water adventure, from kayaking Banana River’s Thousand Islands to deep-sea fishing with Fin and Fly Fishing Charters to taking a few surf lessons from Ron Jon’s, is available here. There are some more unique treasures like The Dinosaur Store and the Exploration Tower.

Cocoa Beach: Splish Splash In The Sun

Exploring Cocoa Beach Water Activities

Banana River Aquatic Preserve is nestled between Merritt Island on one side and a beach barrier island on the other. The 30,000-acre preserve has a number of parks and boat ramps that provide direct, easy access to visitors with their own or rented boats and kayaks. These include Banana River Park, Kiwanis Island Park, Cocoa Beach Recreational Complex, and Kelly Park, among others. The north end of Banana River is home to a large manatee population year-round, but visitors will also see a large pelican rookery and significant numbers of diamondback terrapin turtles and alligators. Ulumay Wildlife Sanctuary in the preserve is a bird watcher’s paradise.

Fin and Fly-Fishing Charters offer enthusiastic anglers both deep sea and inshore fishing charters. Founder and Captain Jamie Glasner and Captain Alex Hughey grew up fishing the waters of Cocoa Beach, including the Banana and Indian Rivers and the Space Coast. Both captains specialize in nearshore and inshore fishing, along with deep-sea fishing. Anglers can also feel confident about their four charter boats. The 32-foot Blackfin Sportfishing boat is perfect for offshore fishing, while the 168 Phantom Ranger has superb shallow-water performance. The 16-foot Action Craft is a fly fisherman’s dreamboat, and the Skeeter 24-foot boat is the workhorse of the bunch going wherever the fish are. Fin and Fly-Fishing Charters offer deep sea, river, inshore, shark, and red snapper charters.

The World-Famous Cocoa Beach Pier draws over a million annual visitors. The iconic Central Florida landmark stretches 800 feet out above the Atlantic Ocean and has numerous gift shops, restaurants, and bars for visitors to enjoy. This family-friendly attraction is also known for its great fishing opportunities. Anglers are likely to catch redfish, whiting, snapper, wahoo, and many other types of fish. There is a fishing fee for those who bring their own equipment, and there is also an option to rent equipment at the pier. Some of the most famous surfers in the world surf here, and visitors can watch the action at Mai Tiki Bar at the pier’s end.

Adventure Kayak of Cocoa Beach I personally enjoyed using this company! My son and I did the bioluminescence tour which was simply an amazing experience. They are very accommodating with families with children as young as 4 years old! The staff of Adventure Kayak of Cocoa Beach are patient and will assist in any way to create an experience you and your family will remember!

Vacationers who want to see the natural side of Cocoa Beach can explore mangrove tunnels and islands on a kayak eco-tour of Thousand Islands. Daytime kayak tours are approximately two hours long. Kayakers should expect to see manatees, dolphins, white ibis, bald eagles, southern stingrays, and other wildlife on guided tours through a diverse ecosystem. Leisurely tours leave both mornings and afternoons from various locations and are appropriate for all skill levels – even those who’ve never kayaked before. For an even more unique experience, kayakers can choose a nighttime bioluminescence kayak tour or comb jelly tour (also bioluminescent) where paddlers will see these living lights emit an ethereal blue-green glow in the water.

Ron Jon Surf School began as Cocoa Beach Surfing School in 1993 by one of surfing’s champions, Craig Carroll. The establishment draws on 45+ years of surfing and coaching, so guests can be assured they’ll be well taught whether they are beginners or serious competitors. Ron Jon offers private and semi-private surf lessons for beginner and advanced surfers. Surf Camp for kids seven to 17 who can swim is held between May and August. Camps run for five days, perfect for a weeklong vacation. Ron Jon also provides stand-up paddleboarding instruction via private or semi-private lessons, along with stand-up paddleboarding eco-river tours and nighttime bioluminescent SUP tours. They have recently added kiteboarding instruction to their repertoire.

321 Kiteboarding and Watersports is a retail kiteboard and surf shop. They’re also the largest kiteboarding school in Cocoa Beach. Students learn to set up the gear and use it safely, then head out to the water to learn how to harness the wind for kiteboarding. The only requirement is the bit of endurance it requires for beginners to spend one to two hours on the water learning skills, along with some core and leg strength. Kiteboarding is an exciting sport for everyone, from kids to seniors. The best time for kiteboarding in Cocoa Beach is October to May. The store offers gear for purchase or rent and lessons in kiteboarding, SUP, and surfing.

Fin Expeditions offer personalized, small-group kayak eco-tours in the Banana River Lagoon. Local expert guides lead groups of ten or fewer kayakers through the labyrinth of the Thousand Islands mangrove forest. Groups are typically six kayakers to one guide who takes them off the beaten path and expertly leads them through the sometimes-confusing watery trails with ease.

Cocoa Beach: Learning The History

Exploring Cocoa Beach Museums

Exploration Tower is a must-do activity at Port Canaveral Jetty Park. The architecturally gorgeous seven-story tower is a recreational offering by the Canaveral Port Authority. Visitors enter the tower via a promenade that skims across a lake. The first floor houses the information desk, gift shop, and a café. The tower’s second floor is a 2,750-square-foot discovery center with interactive exhibits about local history. On the third floor, there is a 72 seat state-of-the-art theater to watch a one-of-a-kind historical movie. The Tower’s fourth floor hosts meetings and events. Floor five offers a simulated harbor boat pilot navigation experience, and floors six and seven are indoor and outdoor observation decks for Cape Canaveral launches.

Astronaut Memorial Planetarium & Observatory on the Eastern Florida State College campus has been serving both the college and the community since 1975. It is widely recognized as one of the best planetariums in the United States, and the rooftop observatory has one of the largest public telescopes in Florida. Planetarium staff and volunteers help visitors explore the night sky every weekend. The planetarium also has two theaters. Star Theater has the world’s first combined Digital & Optical Mechanical projection system for realistic views of the Brevard County night sky and presents live tours of the night sky. It also hosts laser/music shows. Discovery Movie Theater shows IMAX, National Geographic, and other science documentaries. The facility is currently closed and will be going under reconstruction since sustaining damage from Hurricane Irma 2018 stay posted by visiting website to stay connected to updates of re-opening of this fantastic facility.

Florida Surf Museum is dedicated to preserving the unique history of East Coast surfing. Visitors can expect to see exhibitions about the history and culture of Florida surfing, the evolution of surfing, great local surfers, five iconic local surf spots, and a fascinating array of boards. Besides the permanent collection of photos, videos, boards, and stories about surf legends and big Kahunas, there are always new temporary exhibits. Past exhibits have included Shortboard Evolution Revolution, Sidewalk Surfing, Locals Only, Florida Women of the Waves, Paipo: Prone to Ride, and Gary Propper–Surf/Art/Entertainment. Visitors can also purchase T-shirts and other souvenirs from the museum.

Sands Space and History Center is an extension of the Air Force Space & Missile Museum at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Since it is outside the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, there is no need for an access pass, and admission is free. The history center preserves and displays historic information for the Launch Complexes at Cape Canaveral. There is also a gift shop inside and a picnic area outside the building. Visitors can tour the history center every day except Monday. This is not the Air Force Space & Missile Museum itself, which is at Launch Complex 26 inside Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and can only be accessed via a bus tour called, Cape Canaveral Early Space Tour.

The Dinosaur Store is not a kitschy roadside stand with plastic dinosaur souvenirs – it’s the real deal. The world’s largest collection of fossils and minerals will inspire paleontology fans. Shoppers can pick up a 65 million-year-old authentic Pachycephalosaurus toe for $2400 or a 75 million-year-old real Tyrannosaurid tooth for $900, and there are many more one-of-a-kind pre-historic items. Families will love The Dinosaur Store’s Adventure Zone where kids can explore science center activities, play arcade games, watch dinosaur movies in the Movie Cave, pan for fossils in a working sluice, and visit live gators and reptiles in the Reptiles Run. The Dinosaur Store also presents a Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures.

Cocoa Beach: The Great Outdoors

Exploring Cocoa Beach Nature Connection

The Helen & Allan Cruickshank Sanctuary is part of Florida’s Environmentally Endangered Lands Program, which was established to acquire land that is environmentally sensitive and bring it back to life for environmental education and passive recreation. Once a turpentine mine and farm, this 140-acre sanctuary is an example of conservation in action. The pine Flatwoods’ habitat is now home to raptors that circle above the pines or perch majestically at their tops. The restored land also includes oak trees and sand pine scrub, along with freshwater marshes. Visitors here can walk the mile-long nature trail that loops the sanctuary and observe native wildlife.

Shepard Park gets its name from astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American in space. Besides being an oceanfront park, it’s also the perfect spot to watch future Cape Canaveral launches. This five-acre park has a beautiful beach, picnic shelters, a children’s playground, 10 large picnic pavilions, barbecue grills, vending machines, and a bathhouse with showers, changing areas, and restroom facilities. There is also an option to rent beach chairs and umbrellas for a relaxing day. The paid parking lot with 300 spaces is close to the beach. This is the perfect set-up for a fun day at the beach.

 Cocoa Beach: Embracing The Community

Shopping Experience in Cocoa Beach

The Historic Cocoa Village is a must-do on any vacation to Cocoa Beach. Cocoa Village is the in-demand entertainment and shopping district of Cocoa, Florida. Visitors meander tree-lined streets perusing a plethora of unique shops and casual dining establishments in a village atmosphere. Depending on the time of year, travelers to Cocoa Village may catch one of four annual art fairs, two car shows, or four annual Sip and Strolls. The Village, founded in 1860, has numerous historic attractions to see, like Porcher House and Cocoa Village Playhouse, both of which are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Cocoa Beach has long been considered the gateway to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, and the Space Center Visitor Complex is 40 minutes outside Cocoa Beach. Visitors to the center will see historic spacecraft and memorabilia, the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, astronaut training simulators, a space shuttle launch experience, a close-up view of the space shuttle Atlantis, Space Mirror Memorial honoring fallen astronauts, and so much more. There are a number of add-on attractions at the Visitor Complex for an additional price. Some of these include photo opportunities with icons of NASA spaceflight operations, a guided tour with an astronaut, live action gaming featuring real NASA missions, and lunch with an astronaut.

South of Cocoa Beach Pier visitors will find picturesque, regional beachside Lori Wilson Park. To get to the semi-secluded beach, travelers take one of the short trails past the boardwalk, through the woods, and over the dunes to the beach. Park facilities include picnic tables, two pavilions, restrooms and changing areas with vending machines, a lifeguard stand, and an elevated boardwalk nature trail through an adjacent tropical maritime hammock (forest). Other park amenities for public use are a volleyball court, playground, barbecue grills, and a dog park. The park opens at dawn and closes at dusk. There is no park fee for any of the facilities or the beach.

The family-friendly Cocoa Beach and Thousand Islands Helicopter Tour provides an exhilarating birds-eye view of Cocoa Beach, Port Canaveral, and Thousand Islands in Banana River. The 30-mile, 15-minute flight leaves from a private helipad in Port Canaveral. Guests can expect to see miles of Cocoa Beach and Cocoa Beach Pier with tons of surfers and beach goers along the way. The inter-coastal Banana River has a labyrinth of natural and manmade islands, some freshwater manatees, and even a few river dolphins. Tours regularly accommodate two guests, who will each have headsets allowing them to clearly hear the guide’s live commentary.

Cocoa Beach: Fine Dining

The Best Local Restaurants in Cocoa Beach

Fat Kahuna’s features signature seafood selections, fine steak, chicken, and vegetarian options. In a fine dining, yet casual atmosphere, we welcome all to come to join us and taste the aloha!

The Fat Snook is a casual beachside restaurant that has been serving upscale dishes to the Cocoa Beach community since 2007. They specialize in showcasing local purveyors of fresh seafood and use seasonal ingredients in their amazing entrées like Poblano Pesto Shrimp with Canaveral shrimp, pumpkin cheddar grits, and chorizo cream sauce. Other menu standouts like their Florida Stone Crab starter, Grilled D’Anjou Pear & Baby Gem salad, and U-10 Seared Scallops entrée are local favorites. The casual-chic ambiance features a cool color palette of blues and greens with wood flooring, beachy accents, and modern bistro tables and chairs.

Cocoa Beach Brewing Company Cocoa Beach Brewing Company is tucked away in a historic building that was once 1930s Navy housing. Today, the repurposed former Banana River Naval Air Station provides retail space for a number of restaurants, bars, and local businesses. This family-owned-and-operated nano-brewery and pub, founded in 2008, was the Space Coast’s first brewery. Cocoa Beach Brewing Company specializes in traditional craft brews, plus unique seasonal beers. Their award-winning beers are handcrafted in small-batch brews. Three beers to try are the Cocoa Beach Pale Ale, Not Just Some Oatmeal Stout, and 888 India Pale Ale, all award winners.

Cocoa Beach: Where to Stay

Cocoa Beach Family Style Resorts

We recommend these great-value hotels near the soft sands of Cocoa Beach:

  • Westgate Cocoa Beach Resort: high-end pricing, recent renovation includes complete upgrades to the 120 two-bedroom villas, hotel lobby, courtyard and heated outdoor pool. The family will enjoy the all-new Wakulla Falls Water Park, featuring best-in-class aquatic attractions.
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacation: high-end pricing, ranging from one to four bedrooms, the spacious villas you’ll find at Holiday Inn Club Vacations resorts can make your stay extra-special. Many feature fully equipped kitchens, living and dining areas, patios or balconies and more. With plenty of room to spread out or come together, these villas are perfect for the whole family.
  • Cape Crossing Resort & Marina: mid-end pricing, the resort features 47 island-style townhomes that are fully furnished and professionally decorated. Each has 2 stories, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and garage. The resort centerpiece is a six-story condominium tower with 35 water-view units that are also fully furnished, professionally decorated, and feature 3 or 4 bedrooms (Note: furthest away from Cocoa Beach but awesome for sailors).
  • Radisson Resort at the Port: mid-pricing range, situated in the heart of Cape Canaveral, Radisson Resort at the Port makes it easy to stroll down Cocoa Beach at sunset or discover the world of space travel at Kennedy Space Center. Cruise passengers can book our Park and Cruise packages, which include round-trip shuttle service to Port Canaveral and free parking at the hotel.
  • International Palms Resort Cocoa Beach: mid-pricing range, set on 13 pristine oceanfront acres in beautiful Cocoa Beach. Once the playground of astronauts, this 502-room beach resort overlooking the Atlantic delights with a pirate-themed pool, rescue gators in the lobby, live entertainment, and fire pits that beckon families to gather for s’more-making memories.
  • Courtyard Cocoa Beach Cape Canaveral: mid-range pricing, beach access, personal service, partially-shaded outdoor pool.
  • Hampton Inn Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral: affordable rates, ocean-view, short walk to the beach, complimentary hot breakfast, heated outdoor pool, free tea and coffee in the lobby.
  • La Quinta Inn & Suites Cocoa Beach Oceanfront: budget-friendly hotel, beachfront, near Cocoa Beach Pier, pillowtop beds, outdoor swimming pool, free breakfast and parking.
  • Days Inn Cocoa Beach Port Canaveral: budget rates, opposite Cocoa Beach Pier, five-minute walk to the beach, continental breakfast included.

Adventure awaits!


How to Keep the Dream Alive Beyond MLK Day

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a familiar name and face within American history. Around this time of year, we see his quotes as we scroll through social media. His image becomes a temporary fixture that is placed in elementary schools, and (likely) remains there through the month of February and on MLK Day. Many are aware of his childhood upbringing in the church, his years at Morehouse College, and his transformative activism. Some can even recite the infamous “I Have a Dream” speech, matching his inflection, determination, and spirit.

Activists

The spotlight was placed on King with the release of the 2014 historical drama Selma, which chronicled the fight for voting rights in Alabama. The film followed King’s public and private life, and also shed light on the significant roles of other rising activists, including Diane Nash, Andrew Young, and James Bevel. I saw the film when it was initially released, and I have watched it with family, friends, and students many times since then. Each time I watch the film, I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Dr. King:

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Therefore, This quote is embodied in the film’s ever-present, everyday citizens who fought tirelessly for freedom. Annie Lee Cooper, Jimmie Lee Jackson, James Reeb, and other individuals working for civil rights are given prominence in Selma, demonstrating their boundless determination and courage. I was moved by their stories and became curious about the narratives of others who participated in the movement, irrespective of how well the individual (or their efforts) are known. On MLK Day 2022, here are three ways that you can learn more about those who worked assiduously for human rights:

MLK Day & Beyond

  • Finding documentaries that provide historical insight into the Civil Rights Movement are helpful. While we may find the Internet to be daunting, it can also be a great place to search for a variety of resources and learning tools. In a recent search for information about the Civil Rights Movement, I was introduced to a wonderful documentary called Mighty Times: The Children’s March. Designed for viewers of all ages, The Children’s March focuses on the brave youth who took action against segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. This powerful documentary includes stories from those who participated in the march, and how they organized for justice. You can find more information about the documentary here.
  • Also, research books about human rights leaders. We all have probably made a New Year’s resolution to read more, and now is the perfect time to get started! Reading can expand our worldview as well as our knowledge on a range of topics. Reading can also introduce us to new people and their ideas. Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision by Barbara Ransby is a comprehensive book that provides profound insight into the legacy of Ella Baker. A grassroots organizer, Baker, is revered as a leader who trained young activists. The book outlines Baker’s extraordinary career and the movement to Civil Rights for African Americans. You can find more information about Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement here.
  • Thus, research my family’s narratives around the Civil Rights Movement. For some of us, the Civil Rights Movement lives only in the pages of our school’s history books. It seems that the movement has passed and that we will never have the opportunity to be in close proximity to it. In a recent casual conversation with one of my relatives, I learned that our great aunts were active in the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, Alabama. Further, they assisted African American citizens as they studied for their voting tests, and hosted parties to help African American voters raise money to pay for their voting tax. My maternal grandmother also shared some interesting stories about attending “movement meetings” in Birmingham, Alabama, and the many times she heard Dr. King speak. Want to capture a family member’s story? Mobile apps like Story Corps are great for preserving these narratives. Your proximity to history may be closer than you think!

Checkpoint Ahead

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Since the start of the year, how many of us have been wanting, needing, practically begging for a break? It seems like even though Ms. COVID’s presence has made us Zoom everything and be mindful of everywhere we go, we have somehow become even busier. Imagine how our kids are feeling? For many of our students, they spent last year at home behind a computer all day completing schoolwork. While many have transitioned back into the traditional school building, it has not come without its share of difficulties and struggles.

This break serves as a reboot for all of us to get back on track, but especially for our children. I will get to learning and grades in a moment. Right now, we must focus our attention on our children’s mental health. In this new day and age of COVID precautions (I hate to say this) and active assailant drills, our children face so many stressors we may not realize they are dealing with. Weekly mental health check-ins are a necessity. Our kids need to know that we are a safe space to express their fears and concerns about the world around them. Though they may not admit it, children tend to take on the stress of their parents, knowingly or unknowingly. Our fears and worries trickle into them even though we do our best to shelter them from the world. Make sure you create opportunities to allow them to voice ANY and EVERYTHING to you. The old, “How was your day at school?” is just that. Old. Go deeper and help them release feelings that they bind up and suppress. Remember, your stresses don’t have to be theirs. Treat them with love and respect so they always feel comfortable coming to you for help, guidance, and reassurance.

Now on to the grades and learning! First and foremost, don’t sweat the small stuff. Your child(ren) is awesome! You know this. Let’s find out what your child’s strengths are. What have they been performing exceptionally well at during the first part of this year? Continue to support those subjects and interests. Let’s take a closer look at what needs to be strengthened. Notice, I said what needs to be strengthened and not, what are their weaknesses. We’re going to leave the word weakness out of our vocabulary as it pertains to our children.

I was always told I was bad at math or math was my weakness. So, at a young age, I believed that narrative. It wasn’t until I had a teacher tell me I was good at math and that we just needed to strengthen some components of how to understand mathematics. Changing that negative connotation of “weak,” to “strengthen,” gave me the confidence I needed to trust and believe in myself. It was no longer a 4-letter word in my eyes!

I love the point Education.com makes, “Enthusiasm rubs off, especially when it comes to learning new things. If your child or student sees that you’re sincerely enthusiastic about learning, they’re likely to become enthusiastic about learning. Whether it’s history, science, reading, writing, or even math, help him see that learning is a journey of exciting new discoveries. Take every opportunity – without being overwhelming or overbearing – to discover new information with him. As your child sees the joy and excitement learning brings to your life, he’ll begin to share your enthusiasm for learning new things as well.” 

Let us not forget that just like adults, kids need breaks too. Take this time to allow your kids/students to relax, relate, release, and soak up all the memories of this special time. Create opportunities to make learning fun and memorable, especially during the break, to ensure their success and love for learning in the future.

Naples Soap Company Returns to Mount Dora

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Mount Dora, Fla. (July 23, 2020) – Naples Soap Company, a retail destination best known for its skin and hair care made with natural and organic ingredients, has opened a new location in downtown Mount Dora, Fla. The 1,200 square foot store is located at 429 N. Donnelly Street, just a block away from Naples Soap Company’s previous location.

“We’re excited to return to the Mount Dora Community,” shared Deanna Wallin, Naples Soap Company’s founder and CEO. “Our lease had ended at our former location in April. Amid the uncertainty of the government-mandated COVID shutdowns, we made the difficult decision to close our original Mount Dora location. After receiving many emails and calls from customers in Central Florida, we decided to identify a new location and return to the area.”

The new Naples Soap store opened on July 1, 2020, and the Company welcomed back the former management team in addition to three new store associates. This retail destination features a chic coastal vibe, and store shelves are filled with the company’s signature skin and hair care products including natural soaps, bath bombs, body butters, sea salt scrubs, shampoo bars, face care and more.

Founded in 2009, Naples Soap Company has been helping people with sensitive skin by providing products that are made in the USA with natural and organic ingredients including coconut oil, shea butter, fruit extracts, and sea salts. Many of the products are handmade and feature low-waste packaging.

The Mount Dora store hours are Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

About Naples Soap Company

Founded in 2009 by Deanna Wallin, Naples Soap Company operates an online store at naplessoap.com and 10 retail locations in Florida including Naples, Estero, Fort Myers, Sanibel Island, Punta Gorda, Lakewood Ranch, St Petersburg, Mount Dora and Destin. Additionally, Naples Soap Company products are sold at over 100 boutiques, spas and stores throughout the United States.

Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth

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By: DeNeale Luckie

Carnival in Trinidad is beyond words. How does one convey the beauty of the people, the country, and of course, carnival? The myriad of colors all in one space adds to the breathtaking scenery. The fun and music along with it make for an experience like no other.

The history of Carnival dates back to the 18th century. At that time, only the white upper class was able to participate. The masqueraders played into the stereotypes of Black men and women being overly sexual and foolish.

Fast forward to the emancipation of the slaves, Africans were finally able to participate, and thus, Carnival became a celebration of freedom.

Today, many of the original traditions, fanfare, and stereotypes are on full display during Carnival. From the competitions, Soca, steel drum performers, parades and much more, Carnival brings together a multitude of people to celebrate the culture.

Celebrations include young and old. Even the children get in on the action by making their own costumes and participating in the Kiddies’ Carnival. The spotlight shines just as bright on the kids during this season.

Trinidad Carnival is so much more than just a 2-day party. It’s a month-long celebration leading up to Ash Wednesday. It’s a revolt! It is a smack in the face to rules, standards, class, authority, order, and protocol. In fact, it is the very opposite of good behavior. It is the freedom to behave badly, bringing chaos, disruption, unruliness, and liberation. Carnivale is bliss. A euphoria of sorts. It is independence, equality, and a blatant deliverance from social norms and European standards of appropriateness. Carnivale is like nothing you’ve ever seen, but everything you desire.

A friend of mine, Nikki of @Fashionikki expressed, “Being at Trinidad Carnival feels like I’m walking on water. There are so many elements that make you feel like you’re in paradise. I remember watching Carnival each year as a child, and now I’m living it. As a Trini, it brings me such joy seeing the island share its love with the world. It’s an overwhelming feeling of love expressed through Soca, dance, and unity.”

Carnival regulars like myself spend the year yearning to return to our place of paradise. Every year for weeks, and even months, we go through a phase called Tabanca. A legit depression of sort experienced right after Carnival.

We wait with anticipation for the bands to launch, usually sometime in August. This is when we choose the band we will march with as well as the costume we desire. What section will we choose? Frontline or Backline? What will we wear when we play Monday Mas? I should probably explain what all this means. It may sound like I’m speaking a foreign language so let me explain.

Playing Mas – these are the masqueraders that participate in Carnival activities Monday and Tuesday.

The Bands – masqueraders choose the band they will play (march) with during the parade. The band plays the music, provides the costumes, meals and drinks, and entertainment.

Frontline or Backline – Your costume will be part of the frontline or backline with the frontline having larger and more dramatic feathers and embellishments.

Sections – Costumes are divided up in sections with variations of the same costume in each section.

Monday Mas – The pre-run as I like to say. Following the parade route, Masqueraders march, dance, party, drink from sun up to sun down in an outfit of their choice, usually a swimsuit or something similar.

Soca – A music style that originated in Trinidad and Tobago in the 70’s. With its positive messages and rhythmic melody, your body cannot deny itself to move with the beats. Soca gives me life! Some popular Soca artists are Mighty Sparrow,  Kes, Machel Montano, Bundy Garland, Destra, Patrice Roberts, Problem Child… I could go on and on. Again, SOCA GIVES ME LIFE!

J’ouvert – a party that begins at daybreak or dawn. Basically, as the sun is rising Revelers enjoy partying covered in paint, powder, foam, or mud. J’ouvert signals the start of Carnival Monday!

Fete – A party. But be mindful, there is no party like a fete. Trinidadians take the cake when it comes to partying. It’s in the blood.

If you’re considering making the trip to Trinidad Carnival here are a few tips.

Budget, budget and plan your budget! From lodging, travel, food, and shopping, it all adds up quickly.

 Quick tip #1: Costumes can range from $500 USD up to $5,000 USD.

Plan on reserving your lodging a year in advance. Places fill up quickly.

Learn the culture! Caribbean culture and American culture are very different. Know the culture and the rules of the land.

Quick tip #2: DO NOT wear clothing with camouflage. It is against the law. No green camouflage, pink camouflage, blue… JUST NO CAMOUFLAGE!

Take some time to appreciate the island and the people. Trinidad has some amazing sights to see. Take a bath in a volcano or explore a cave. You can also visit the nation’s capital, Port of Spain and take in the beauty of the historical architecture. Relax on one of the beaches or talk to the locals. You’ll find the people to be very warm and welcoming. Feel the love of this beautiful island!

Trinidad definitely has a special place in my heart. My heaven on earth and home in my heart. With the motto of the country being, Together We Aspire, Together We Achieve, this multicultural island is a paradise like no other.

Education Revolution

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Education Revolution is a company designed to help alternatively educated students, especially homeschool students, have exceptional educational experiences. 

Tell us about your company…..

Education Revolution provides consultation and services to help families start to homeschool legally and successfully. We also provide evaluation services, curriculum and learning material, and classes and curriculum planning. One of the curriculum lines produced by Education Revolution is the I’M SERIES. The first complete book release–I’m Resilient is a unique interactive journal designed to teach the important trait of resilience to the next generation of young adults. This full-color interactive journal isn’t just about writing. It is an immersive experience that was designed for today’s young people. It’s fast-paced, fun, and provides concrete help in building resilience. It uses online tie-ins, and tasks that require that the book is put down and the journalist interact with the world around them.

What do clients love about your company…..

The families love the customization and personalization we bring to helping every student succeed.

What would you like potential clients to know about your company…….

Yolanda Newton, the director of the Education Revolution, is a professional educator with over 10 years of experience in a traditional school classroom. She has taught all grades from kindergarten through high school. It’s given her a hands-on, wide range of experiences. She’s a creative educator, with a flair and passion for technology. While she is a successful home educator herself now, she continues to improve her skills as an educator for all kinds of students–building programs and services to help modern families have superior alternative educational experiences.

KBI Staffing Solutions, LLC.

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KBI is a multifaceted staffing form specializing in permanent, long term, and temporary placement. KBI Staffing Solutions also specializes in the construction, hospitality and administrative fields. We offer wrap-around payroll solutions services. We understand that staffing needs come in all shapes and sizes which is why we customize a plan based on the client’s needs for permanent, long & short term temporary staff, direct hire, and temporary to perm work opportunities. In a time of crisis, KBI Staffing is able to provide jobs to our communities and aid in economic success.

Tell us about your services…

KBI Sources staff for various roles including but not limited to administrative (office, call center, data entry), hospitality, and construction (skilled, semi-skilled, general labor, management). Additionally, KBI offers full payroll services.

What clients love about your company…

KBI’s personable and hands-on approach. Any client can call the owners of our sales team directly in order to get accurate information and quick decision making.

Something all new clients should know…

KBI Staffing Solutions offers permanent, long and short term temporary employment, direct hire opportunities as well as payroll services. We work hard for our clients and strive to give the best solution based staffing service.

Exercise with MaddyFit

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Maddy Garcia- Exercise with MaddyFit, Master Fitness Trainer

Maddy Garcia is a mom and certified master fitness trainer. As result of her excellence in the field of exercise and physical fitness, she is New Hue’s first spotlight feature. She is here to help you and your family implement exercise into your lifestyle. Maddy Fit Blog

For many mothers, exercise and physical fitness is an aspirational goal and sometimes feels unattainable. Consequently, we usually do not put ourselves first because ….well….life is happening. Children, work, school, lunches, dinner, after school activities…you know how the story goes. You live it. Well meet Maddy Garcia, certified Master Fitness trainer and mother of three.

Maddy’s Motivation to Exercise

Maddy is a lifelong athlete however, similar to most of us, she has experienced some difficulties with getting back into shape after having her children. Therefore, Maddy chose to make exercise and fitness a lifestyle. As she states, “Fitness must be a priority”. Her goal is to create a synergy of the physical and mental well-being thus creating overall wellness. She fought to attain this goal by implementing Barre exercise, which involves the use of the ballet barre and movements derived from ballet. Maddy later became a certified Barre/Pilates instructor. She had prior training in Les Mills exercise and is also a certified and is also a certified instructor.

As you can see, she looks amazing! Therefore, obviously, people want to know what she did to get back into shape….and she wants to help! She created MaddyFit, which entails use of customized programs that are specific to your goals. Exercise with MaddyFit includes use of many styles of exercise training including strength training, cardio, HIIT, core focus training and also body sculpting to name a few.

Food and Nutrition

Any good trainer understands that a good training program is also as a result of a good nutrition plan. However, not all trainers create a meal plan for you. In contrast, Maddy does! I know this first hand! She was able to create a vegan friendly meal plan for me that was also high in protein for muscle building. That is a remarkable feat! In contrast, I’ve had other trainers that were not able to achieve this and always resorted to telling me to eat eggs or seafood. Not only does she understand the importance of good nutrition, she also understands that it must be customized to the individual and she knows how to implement it. That is difficult to find in a trainer.

Maddy’s passion for fitness organically led her to implementing this lifestyle with her family. As a result of this, her children are star athletes. This led many parents to questioning what the method is to achieving both her and her children’s physical success, and want to exercise with MaddyFit. Check out Maddyfit kids below!       

Exercise with MaddyFit Kids

Many parents witness the power and endurance that her athletic children have when involved in their competitive sports activities. Consequently, these curious parents would ask advice on nutrition and training. As a result of this, she came up with the great idea to formulate Maddyfit kids. She believes that you must introduce a healthy lifestyle at an early age so that fitness will be ever present on the lifespan continuum.

Another advice that she offers is to meal prep for your family. Not only does this help with organizing the week for busy moms, it also ensures deliberate calculations of appropriate calories and nutrients for your physically active and maybe not so active child(ren). Maddy believes that exercise should be fun for children. For instance, Maddy says, “Your child may not be disciplined enough to run laps around the track but he or she would have a blast doing a relay race with their friends”. The key is making exercise a part of your child’s daily activities. To learn more about Maddy and her amazing fitness services, visit www.maddyfit.com

Parenting: Are you #Winning or Simply Surviving?

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As we journey through this life of parenting, it has become evident that all things are not created equally. As parents, we attempt to achieve balance but there are aspects of our lives that draw a disproportionate amount of our time and energy. #Parenting

At this moment, stop and think about all of the things that have your attention: your children, their school, your job, spouse, relationship with friends and family, your spirituality, being an awesome parent, oh and house-keeping. At NO point can all of those responsibilities receive the same amount of attention and that is OK!

#Winning or Surviving

I was comforted one evening when I heard Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo CEO) speak about being a decent parent. Undoubtedly, as parents, our goal is not to be decent, but to be great at this parenting game.  However, we can’t be phenomenal at everything and there are times we may compare ourselves unfavorably to others. We often wish and hope that we could have our lives together like someone else. From our perspective, it looks as though others are winning and we are simply surviving or barely making it. However, we don’t see the sacrifices someone had to make to get there. We don’t see the hard work and effort it took for them to win or create the facade of winning. Think about this fact: Nobody wakes up the winner of a marathon; instead it takes ACTION, TIME, SKILL, and DETERMINATION to make that dream become a reality. Even Shonda Rhimes vividly describes in her book, the Year of Yes, how she sometimes felt as though she was winning in one area but inevitably failing in another.

So today, stop and think about the life that you would like to create. What is the ONE thing that could help you feel like you are winning in your day, outside of your morning cup of Joe?

Steps to Winning the Parenting Game

  1.  Remind yourself daily that you are more than good enough and your kids love you no matter what. #WinningTheParentingGame
  2. Create a plan to be successful! Small steps everyday will lead you to your end result. #WinningTheParentingGame
  3. Give yourself time to create the life that you would like to have. #WinningTheParentingGame
  4. Live YOUR best life that makes you happy #WinningTheParentingGame

As you discover the new you, check out this article to help your kiddos do the same. How Kids get back on track!

USTA: Why Everyone Loves This National Campus

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USTA: Why Everyone Loves This National Campus
USTA: Why Everyone Loves This National Campus

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has a new home right outside Orlando. The USTA National Campus is a state-of-the-art facility, beaming with over 100 courts, coaching for every age, pro shop, restaurants, events, and much more. Tennis is truly a sport for all ages, meaning it’s never too late to start. This campus offers youth to senior-level programs to get everyone moving. There are many ways to play! Membership options are available for adults, kids, and families. Tennis is also great exercise because it increases hand and eye coordination, agility, speed, strength, and balance. Above all, the sport is social and fun. The USTA National Campus now provides athletics and fun right here in Orlando.

USTA: Why Everyone Loves This National Campus

My 8-year-old daughter and her Girl Scout Troop took a trip to the facility. Upon arrival, the friendly staff and coaches greeted us with excitement and were ready to teach the girls all about the game of tennis. Parents adore the kid-size courts, basic skill games, and how quickly the girls learned. In addition, I personally loved the Girl Scouts watching the highly skilled teens and young adults play matches. Overall, the scouts found inspiration in the players and watched as powerful female players displayed dynamic athletic skills.

Overall, the scouts found inspiration in the players and watched as powerful female players displayed dynamic athletic skills. Even if you’re not interested in playing, there are tons of tournaments and special events to enjoy. Take the family and explore the facility for free. As always, Orlando offers many entertainment opportunities besides theme parks. In conclusion, for residents and visitors, it is something you don’t want to miss!

Ethos Vegan Kitchen: Delicious Plant-based Foods

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Ethos Vegan Kitchen: Delicious Plant-based Foods

Ethos Vegan Kitchen is one of Central Florida’s vegan hot spots! Offering an array of deliciousness, their food ranges from all-American cuisine to delicious Italian entrees.

My favorite thus far is “pigs in the blanket.” This is served as an appetizer. However, my son wanted his own, so we had to get two servings! The crust was so buttery and flaky. The dipping sauce added to the wonderful flavor.

Ethos Vegan Kitchen: Delicious Plant-based Foods

Another favorite was the lasagna! The absolute perfection of the marinara sauce tastes exquisite with spices and the right touch of sweetness. The “cheesy” goodness is an exceptional addition to the taste of this entree.

Ethos Vegan Kitchen: Delicious Plant-based Foods

We completed our dining experience with a good old-fashioned chocolate cookie. However, there was ice cream and an array of options on the dessert menu—cookies, cakes, and brownies galore. There is more than enough to satisfy your sweet tooth!

Ethos Vegan Kitchen has a homey feel to the atmosphere. The staff is warm and inviting. The decor is colorful and eclectic. Most importantly, the food is prepared home-style. Therefore, visit Ethos Vegan Cafe and enjoy a new experience in your plant-based lifestyle.

For more delicious vegan eats, check out some of our fave spots.

Maya A. Johnson Foundation: Infant Grief and Loss

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Maya A. Johnson Foundation: Infant Grief and Loss

Family Support for Infant Grief and Loss

Maya A. Johnson Foundation: Infant Grief and Loss
The Johnson Family with baby Maya (on the left)

The Maya A. Johnson Foundation is a 501c3 created to honor the legacy of sweet baby Maya. She lost her battle with bacterial meningitis on January 16, 2015, at only six months old. This was a tragic loss for the Johnson family. However, they were determined to continue her legacy of joy and happiness. The Johnson family assists other children and families affected by losing a loved one. There are several resources available to families.

A Healing Foundation

First, the foundation offers peer support groups and certified mental health professionals for grieving children. Second, the foundation uses journals/workbooks to guide children in coping with grief in a healthy manner. Above all, getting the mental health support we need to manage the loss of a loved one is most important.

Maya A. Johnson Foundation: Infant Grief and Loss

Mrs. Johnson’s book, “Beautiful Baby Butterfly,” was written for her son Miles and children ages 2 to 9 years old who have experienced the loss of a sibling. A beautifully illustrated book that walks through the life of a butterfly family that loses a child. Similarly, the goal for the butterfly parents is to provide their child with tools to manage the grieving process. They want him to feel comfortable about expressing his feelings. In conclusion, a book is an excellent tool for families, schools, and local support groups.

Through Amazon Smiles, shoppers can support the Maya A. Foundation simply by doing what they love. To learn more about the foundation and Anna Johnson’s story, watch on Youtube.

If you need a change of scenery and perspective during a difficult time, take some time on the healing waters with Full Tale Outdoors.

A Museum for the Culture And You Don’t Have To Go To D.C!

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A Museum for the Culture And You Don’t Have To Go To D.C!

Like many Floridians and Orlando residents of the diaspora, there’s a constant need and urge to connect with the culture. Some fly to their hometowns, while others visit cities like Atlanta or Washington D.C. to learn about art and culture. However, you don’t have to fly thousands of miles to connect with African American history. There’s a place right here in Florida that you can visit and help support. With your support, these places can become popular and attract tourists much like the DuSable Museum. Where can we find a museum for the culture?

Not Too Far

A Museum for the Culture And You Don’t Have To Go To D.C!

Right here in Orlando, we have the Well’s Built Museum of African American History and Culture. Finally, Florida has a museum for the culture! In the Parramore district, this location was originally built as a hotel and entertainment venue with a casino by Dr. William Monroe Wells. Dr. Wells’ purpose was to host and entertain African American tourists and residents in Orlando during segregation. After segregation, the hotel and venue continued to run until the building became a place to showcase African and African American art. In 2000, the museum was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

The Culture Inside

A Museum for the Culture And You Don’t Have To Go To D.C!

From paintings to sculptures to hotel rooms left in their original design, you experience what artists like B.B King received when they stayed. The museum is overflowing with rich Black history often overlooked by most people. It’s a hidden gem with facts and lessons that will stick with visitors of any age.

Other than educational purposes, the museum has been a place that serves the community; many have flocked to the museum for their Black History Month and Juneteenth events. History buffs have caught on to the museum’s legacy so much so that the museum was highlighted by social media influencers and politicians.

You can check out the operating hours and book a tour on their website! Can’t visit anytime soon? Not to worry, you can always donate to help keep the museum running!

For the artist in you, use the promo code WF9CNAHT0GC3 at Stone Art Supply to get art supplies shipped to you for free!

The Hall On The Yard

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The Hall On The Yard
The Hall On The Yard
From The Hall On The Yard via Instagram

The Hall On The Yard brings a new flavor to Orlando, Kelsey Stone, New York, D.C, Texas, and Chicago aren’t the only places where you can have a fun brunch. With Orlando’s social scene up and coming, there are plenty of places to eat, drink, and socialize, and this black-owned spot is one of them.

The Hall On The Yard, owned by Jamal Wilson, consists of dishes from 9 different restaurants and three cocktail bars to satisfy your different tastebuds. From the Caribbean to Asian Fusion to Latin, the food offered reflects the city of Orlando, so diverse and rich in culture.

From The Hall On The Yard via Instagram

Alongside the food, they also offer five event spaces, perfect for weddings, parties, or company events. Who doesn’t like to party?! Florida is in for a treat because this is the first of four locations! The company plans to expand to two locations in Georgia. However, another location hasn’t been announced yet on the website. Hopefully, they’ll expand to other cities in the south and across the country.

For more details, take a peek at their website and follow them on Instagram and Facebook. Check out their news coverage from Fox35 Orlando!

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