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Well Wilderness 

A Safe Space for Mindful Play

We do offer so much. We are providing a safe, nurturing space for children and families to feel like they are part of a connected community where they are creating the best versions of themselves and having fun along the way. 

—Stephanie Novacek, founder

The importance of nature is often overlooked in a world full of obligations, worries, and strife. But take just one minute out in the country, and the colorful sights, fresh smells, and melodic sounds are enough to shift any mindset. Add to this a collaboration of exuberant supporters and a comprehensive program that focuses on the whole person, and the Well Wilderness Kids adventure has been reached. Nestled on a farm in south Olathe, Well Wilderness offers a therapeutic learning experience that meets the needs of any child but whose benefits extend to all who visit.    

When John and Stephanie Novacek decided to move onto some land four years ago, they had no idea how the move would change their lives. Their intention was to provide a place of solace for their family of six and to reconnect with nature. It was not until the summer of 2016 that Pediatric Physical Therapist, Stephanie Novacek, discovered that God had other plans for her as a parent and a professional. Novacek and a few professional friends agreed that they wanted children to be out in nature playing and having fun. What they discovered is that this organized play, that combined all the amazing elements of being outside, became a place where children were thriving. Students with autism, anxiety, even the reluctant nature lover were soon trying new things and developing a deep understanding of one another while enjoying all the outdoors had to offer. It was within the excitement of that summer that the early childhood program of Well Wilderness Kids was birthed. 

My youngest son was an inspiration to start the program. He was in the first early childhood program. He has developed into an empathetic child and his heart is connected to the world. 

The goal of Well Wilderness comes down to fostering kids who are resilient, empathetic, adventurous, and brave. It is inclusive of everybody, every age, has something for adults, something for all abilities, and is truly a place where everyone can feel safe and feel nourished. With sprawling land, a pond, a variety of animals, and year-round programs, kids can receive the most authentic of services in a genuinely organic way. And it does so with a very skilled, vested group of allies.

As noted on wellwildernesskids.com

Well Wilderness Kids is led by a team of pediatric professionals specialized in child development from a whole child perspective. Our team is composed of Early Childhood Educators, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists, Music Therapists, Mindfulness Facilitators and Social Workers. Our mission is to provide a nurturing environment deeply rooted in social-emotional development for children of all ages and abilities to grow and thrive through Nature Play.

One visit and it is apparent that the team consciously models what it means to be mindful. They take care of one another and everything they are facilitating to their students are beliefs that they have established with one another. Inclusivity is near to their hearts and at the center of the program. Growth and connection help them to really focus on teaching being well in every sense of the word. 

"Every sense is engaged out in nature all the time. It is the best way to integrate that. What better way to build self-confidence and independence than by them climbing a tree on their own? All our friends are helping other friends and they see no difference. The proudest moment is when you see their empathy grow out here."

—Occupational therapist Taylor Dany

Through Well Wilderness, Novacek has seen transformation in her life, her team, and all the children she serves. And she hopes to share this awakening. She encourages people to come out, volunteer and experience all they have to offer. Take the healthy risks, connect with nature, and stop by to listen to the world and change lives.

"This has been harboring in my heart and I am just learning to dream. My hope is to have four locations north, south, east, and west in the Kansas City metro area, each with its own unique focus: Farm roots, forest roots, an urban nature-based program. There is nature everywhere and I hope to create alliance in the community and grow deep roots." —Stephanie Novacek

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