Proud mom Donna tells this moving story: “My 34-year-old daughter, Lauren, bravely faces life with challenges related to a genetic mutation that includes mental retardation, limited speech, epilepsy, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The Sea Turtle Adventures iCARE recreation program has helped with many of these issues and so much more. She left high school with few opportunities for work or meaningful participation in community activities. Day programs in our area are limited and often unable to serve people with autism and behavior issues. Sea Turtle Adventures came to the rescue with a mission that far exceeds sea turtle conservation. Lauren joined the iCare group for adults with special needs in 2017. Years of physical therapy could not accomplish what Sea Turtle Adventures did!
She moved from being hesitant to get sand on her feet and navigate uneven terrain to walking on the beach—helping with beach clean-ups—and monitoring sea turtle nests. She gets much-needed exercise and is outside in the fresh air. Lauren is contributing to sea turtle conservation efforts while making new friends and learning new skills. She collects and helps mangrove propagules [seeds] grow to plant them in nature. Her speech and vocabulary have improved and expanded. At one activity, she said, ‘Hi Joe, how are you doing?’ A huge accomplishment, with more words in a sentence than ever before! The Sea Turtle Adventures iCARE program has been life-changing.”
STA’s mission is to conserve local populations of sea turtles, educate and engage the public in the environment, and provide nature-based programs to adults with special needs. Indeed, life-changing for participants like Lauren and the sea turtle population!