Well Wilderness Kids Therapeutic Nature Center offers inclusive programs for children of all ages & abilities with the mission of supporting child development through sensory & social emotional experiences in a nature-based setting. We are committed to serving as guardians of play for all children.
The program is staffed by a highly experienced team of pediatric professionals including Early Childhood Educators, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists, & Music Therapists. A Licensed Pediatrician, Mindfulness Facilitator, & Social Worker also support our team & families.
Programs include Playgroups for All Ages & Abilities, Private Therapies, Seasonal Camps, Mindfulness Programs, Field Trips, Birthday Parties, After-School NaturePlay, Parent/Child Workshops, Professional Seminars & Open Nature Play Hour.
A Wellness Market in partnership with local farmers & makers that offers high quality foods & products that nourish the body for optimal health is also offered year round.
Our Early Childhood Therapeutic NaturePlay Programs run Sept – May rain or shine!
PEDIATRIC PHYSICAL THERAPIST & MINDFULNESS ALLY
DIRECTOR OF NATUREPLAY ~ OLATHE & EUDORA LOCATIONS
Nature Element: Feathers
Stephanie graduated from Creighton University Physical Therapy Program in May 2001 with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Her experience in pediatrics has ranged from many pediatric settings including Early Intervention, schools, & outpatient hospital services. In 2015, she shifted to private therapy practice to focus on incorporation of holistic wellness care for women & children. The opening of Well Wilderness Kids Therapeutic Nature Center shortly followed as her vision to create a space for children of all ages & abilities in a nature-based setting came to light. She has studied the science behind the benefits of nature on the sensory system, immune system & overall brain development in children which has fueled her passion to create an inclusive nature center for families & her community.
She & her husband, Farmer Jon, with their 4 children lead a busy farm life full of caring for animals, outdoor projects, gardening & enjoy hosting outdoor gatherings for family & friends.
“Birds of a feather flock together. Feathers come in all shapes, sizes & colors. They identify each bird as part of a group yet also differentiate them as individuals. When feathers are found on the ground, they are often approached with a sense of wonder & kept as a treasure to its finder. There is a story that comes along with each feather…a journey that takes them to the place where the feather landed. And most importantly, feathers serve a vital purpose in providing insulation, protection & flight. Like feathers, each child has an identity that provides them a sense of belonging to a group yet makes them each unique. Every child has a story, a journey that they can be guided on by Learning Allies who support & nurture them along the way. Children provide us with warmth, strength & navigation throughout life. If only we approach them with a sense of wonder, we will come to see their value like that of a treasured feather."
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF NATUREPLAY ~ OLATHE LOCATION
Nature Element: FIRE
Christina has over 10 years working experience in several areas of leadership & support, project management, customer service & people relations. She spent 3 years at the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired as a Teaching Assistant, working closely with children with various diagnoses & their families. She then worked as Production Director at Lifestyle Publications, and was in charge of overseeing production of multiple monthly magazines across the country as well as managing staff & providing publisher support. Throughout the years she has also ran her own photography & design business, providing images for numerous families & couples throughout the Kansas City area.
Christina lives in South KC with her husband & two young children. She enjoys photography and making home movies of her kids as well as being outdoors & working in her garden.
“One of my favorite pastimes is sitting around a campfire or fire pit, preferably with friends. It brings a simplicity to life. Fire brings us together. Light a fire and watch people gather. We are mesmerized by the flames, comforted by its warmth and in awe of its danger. Fire is a symbol of passion and life, wonder and brilliance.
No two flames are alike. They each grow, dance and flicker… each shining with their own degree of light and heat. Just like people… Just like our children. Each one of us shines with our own unique flame. Life is about celebrating our differences, encouraging one another and sharing our inner flame. Our flame can inspire others, guide them through dark times and shine a light on how amazing they are. So, no matter how big or small your fire may be… keep it burning!”
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF NATUREPLAY ~ EUDORA LOCATION
Nature Element: AIR
Lori graduated from the University of Kansas in May 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. She comes with over 25 years of experience working with children & adults having developmental disabilities. Prior to joining Well Wilderness, Lori spent 20 years with a non-profit organization supporting adults having IDD to achieve their fullest potential through a program that focused on body, mind, & spirit to build strength and foster independence. Lori directed a successful employment division and helped many individuals within the program seek meaningful employment uniquely suited to their interests, abilities, & goals. As part of her role, Lori led the organization through arduous accreditations, receiving high honors for compliance & person centered services. In her new position with Well Wilderness, Lori is excited to incorporate her skills & experience in a nature-based setting while helping the program successfully grow.
Lori & her husband, Dave, have 3 girls who keep them busy with school activities & outdoor sports. Together, they enjoy spending time with friends and family, hiking, & the great outdoors.
“I chose the nature element of air because it is constantly in motion, even when you can’t see it. This is similar to the human mind. Air can be concentrated on human thought seeing all the beautiful things life has to offer. Children often see the world very differently & help us notice the little things that make life meaningful, that we often overlook, or take for granted. Beauty is everywhere, in everything, and it's up to us to open our eyes and look around to see it.”
“Happiness is a state of mind. It’s just according to the way you look at things.” - Walt Disney
EARLY CHILDHOOD & ELEMENTARY EDUCATOR & MINDFULNESS ALLY
LEAD KINDERPLAY LEARNING ALLY & NATURE TEAM LEADER ~ OLATHE LOCATION
Nature Element: Roots
Kate has been working with children for 15 years in many diverse settings. She received a certification in Early Years Practices from Northampton College, England, in 2008. While working at a Pre-Preparatory School, she earned a degree in Early Years and Education, as well as a certification as a Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator. Since moving to the United States, Kate has extended her knowledge in Children’s Mindfulness Yoga practices. Kate teaches Yoga and Meditation to children with Emotional Behavior Disorders to alleviate stress and help with anxiety.
“I have a fascination with old tree roots because to me they signify life. From the moment a child is born, they are growing and developing, anchoring their roots and laying down the foundations for their future. I feel passionate about a child’s happiness and emotional well being. Just like a tree, if we help nurture the roots the tree will grow and succeed.”
“Trust the magic of new beginnings” – Meister Eckhart
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATOR & MINDFULNESS ALLY
LEAD TRANSITIONAL KINDERPLAY LEARNING ALLY ~ OLATHE LOCATION
Nature Element: FLOWERS
Kristen graduated from Union University with a degree in Human Studies with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education. During her undergraduate studies she worked at Pope Elementary as a Teacher’s Assistant in the Special Education department. She has been blessed to stay at home with her 3 children with a heart for providing them mindfulness skills such as cultivating a garden, tending to the chickens and learning what it looked like to slow down and enjoy the little things. In addition to her time spent at Well Wilderness, Kristen currently works as a Teacher for Classic Conversations Cooperative.
"I chose flowers as my nature element as there are so many different kinds and no two are alike! Zinnias are my personal favorite! Flowers remind me of children. No two children are the same, and they all need love, sunshine and water to grow! They each bloom in their own season and shine bright towards the sun."
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under Heaven… a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted,” - Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 2
PEDIATRIC OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY ASSISTANT & MINDFULNESS ALLY
LEAD PRESCHOOLPLAY/ENRICHMENT LEARNING ALLY ~ OLATHE LOCATION
Nature Element: WATER
Taylor graduated from State College of Florida’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program in 2017. Since that time, she has worked at an outpatient/school-based setting in addition to the opportunity to teach Special Education while in Florida. Taylor moved back to the Kansas City area in 2019 where she has served as a paraprofessional at a center for children diagnosed with Autism. Her therapy background as an Occupational Therapy Assistant allows her to integrate sensory-based play experiences in a child's natural environment. Her passion for connecting children with nature has her beyond excited to share her blended role as a therapist, teacher, and caregiver with the children & families at Well Wilderness Kids.
“I have always been drawn to water since I was a little girl. I grew up going to the beach and will always be the first one to jump into the waves! One of my husband and I’s hobbies is to find creeks in the area to go explore with our dog. Being near water is my happy place. It came to fruition while I was in the pool with a young boy with Cerebral Palsy that I nanny, that someone with such limited movement could feel so weightless, free to move in the water, independent and exhibiting pure joy. That is why I believe water to be the most powerful element in nature.”
“In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time."
― Leonardo da Vinci
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATOR & MINDFULNESS ALLY
LEAD TODDLERPLAY LEARNING ALLY ~ OLATHE
COMMUNITY OUTREACH COORDINATOR
Nature Element: WILDFLOWERS
Maddy is a native of Pratt, KS where she grew up out in the country on 10 acres of farm land with her 3 siblings. She was amazed by the similarities of Well Wilderness to her own childhood home and immediately fell in love with the nature aspect of it all and how she instantly felt like family. She has a degree in Elementary Education from Kansas State University and has taught various ages from newborn to 6th grade for over 15 years. She was also a private nanny for a professional baseball player for several years where she traveled throughout the country with the family.
She is a huge Kansas City sports fan and music concert lover. Her hobbies include playing ukulele, gardening, running, yoga, baking and hula hooping. She is also very passionate about beekeeping and owns a small business with her husband, Andrew, called Bee Nice Gardens where they specialize in naturally-infused honeys. They have numerous hives throughout the KC area and also at their home in Stilwell. They also take care of 2 horses, 6 sheep, a cat, and a dog on their little farmstead which is surrounded by various fruit, vegetable and flower gardens.
"I connect with wildflowers the most because they can grow pretty much anywhere and provide such natural beauty! They will spring up with little to no human interaction and will help sustain life around them for years to come. Honeybees also rely on various wildflowers as an important food source. In turn, the honeybee will help pollinate these flowers and other vital plants in our ecosystem. This is why I plant many different species of wildflowers and herbs around our hives each year. Some of my favorite wildflowers include sunflowers, daisies, verbena, lavender, and coneflowers."
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
PEDIATRIC SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST & MINDFULNESS ALLY
LEAD ENRICHMENT PROGRAM LEARNING ALLY & NATURE TEAM LEADER ~ OLATHE LOCATION
Nature Element: SKY
Kati is a native of Springfield, MO, received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Communication Disorders from Truman State University, and is a speech-language pathologist certified by the American Speech Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). During her career, Kati has worked in school-based early childhood special education programs in both Missouri and Kansas, and she has worked with families and children from birth-age 5 by providing in-home and community based therapy services. She is currently completing her children’s yoga teacher certification training. Mindfulness and yoga practice are an important part of Kati’s life, and she is excited to share this passion and her experience with families to help their children become compassionate and confident communicators. Nature-based settings provide a unique opportunity to inspire creativity, build relationships, and foster a wide variety of important developmental and communication skills for children.
Kati is a yoga enthusiast, a baseball fan, an aspiring gardener, a lake lover and avid reader. Kati, her husband, Jeff, and their two sons enjoy traveling and taking part in mission and outreach opportunities, both here and abroad.
"The sky is an open and infinite expanse of possibilities. The night sky brings us the phases of the moon and the changing constellations of the seasons. A bright sunny calm of a blue sky day can transform to the unpredictable energy of an impending spring storm. From rainbows to snowstorms, sunrises to sunsets – what we see in each sky is unique and constantly changing. I look forward to joining children and families on their journey and to support them in appreciation and celebration for each moment along the way."
"Only from the heart can you touch the sky” ~ Rumi
BOARD-CERTIFIED MUSIC THERAPIST
LEAD ENRICHMENT PROGRAM LEARNING ALLY ~ OLATHE LOCATION
Nature Element: TREE TRUNKS
Kristi is a Board-Certified Music Therapist and creator of Stepping Stones KC. Kristi graduated from The University of Kansas with a degree in Music Therapy, and an emphasis in early childhood development. While at KU, she worked as a preschool teacher and also received a minor in Psychology, and Certifications in Research and Service Learning! Kristi has worked with young children in home, classroom, and community settings and has over 10 years of experience working with children of all ages with a wide variety of different needs! She has experience working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Developmental Delays, Down Syndrome, Emotional/ Behavioral Disorders, Attachment Disorders, and more.
"I am passionate about helping children reach their goals and supporting families, without boundaries! I feel at-home in nature and love to share that passion for adventure and exploration! I love climbing trees to gain a different perspective and listening to the music that the wind and the trees create. Tree trunks represent stability, adventure, and, most importantly, growth. This is a perspective that I carry into my music sessions, allowing children to experiment, grow, and explore music naturally!"
PEDIATRIC OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST & MINDFULNESS ALLY
KINDERPLAY/ENRICHMENT ASSISTANT LEARNING ALLY ~ OLATHE LOCATION
Nature Element: TREES
Molly earned her Master’s in Occupational Therapy from Rockhurst University. After receiving her BFA from the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance, she moved to Chicago to dance professionally. Molly has over 12 years of experience working with children; including teaching dance in different settings, working as a paraprofessional at the Shawnee Mission Early Childhood Education Center, and now working as a licensed OT in the state of Kansas. Molly’s clinical experience includes adult outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation settings both locally and abroad in Guayaquil, Ecuador. She developed a greater interest in child-led play, sensory dysfunction, trauma-informed care, and emotional regulation during her pediatric rotation at Ability KC’s Mary Shaw Branton’s Therapeutic Preschool. She has experience working with children with developmental delay, autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and low vision. Molly is excited to incorporate movement and music with OT in a nature-based setting!
"I developed an appreciation for trees at a young age. I relished the times my family visited my grandparents in the country. I always felt a sense of peace and wonder when playing with my sisters and cousins amongst the trees. When my sisters and I were younger, my dad planted trees for us in our backyard, and by doing so, taught us the importance of respecting nature. Just like every individual, trees are beautifully unique and resilient. The shape of the branches, the texture of the bark, and the color of the leaves tell a story. The intertwining of tree branches reminds me that we are never alone and that we can always return to our roots to seek refuge."
PEDIATRIC OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY ASSISTANT
TRANSITIONAL KINDERPLAY ASSISTANT LEARNING ALLY ~ OLATHE LOCATION
Nature Element: Rocks
Lisa has a Bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts and was introduced to Occupational Therapy at the Early Childhood Education Center where she worked as a Teaching Assistant. She went on to earn her Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant title. She loves helping people of all ages and being able to directly apply some of the skills she has learned to help make a difference in peoples’ lives.
"My nature element is rock. I have always been fascinated and intrigued by their various colors, layers, textures, shapes, forms and even their scent! I collect rocks with fossils, faces and hearts and I continually marvel at how each was formed or the way a million pebbles can go unnoticed under foot or how a much bigger rock can define the landscape, or how their color comes alive with the rain. Protection, healing, shelter, play, imagination and mystery are words that come to mind when I think about rocks. Rocks rock! When we spend intentional time with children, we start to see the various colors, layers and textures of their personalities and what they are capable of. When we offer a safe space for all of their emotions, encourage imagination and play, learning happens and the landscapes of their lives’ become defined by beautiful experiences.
At Well Wilderness we have the perfect opportunity to explore, discover, engage and learn to interact and build respect for one another and the world around us. Working with children is so important because helping them get off to the right start can change the trajectory of a child’s entire life. For me this means treating each child with respect, meeting them right where they are and coming alongside to help them discover themselves and the world. I am grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Well Wilderness team and the children here as we explore, learn and grow together in this unique and special setting."
“If it weren’t for the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song.” - Carl Perkins
PRESCHOOLPLAY/ENRICHMENT ASSISTANT LEARNING ALLY ~ OLATHE LOCATION
Nature Element: mountains
Hannah has three years of experience in Early Childhood Education, ranging from serving as a nanny to working in a daycare setting. She is currently finishing her degree in Criminal Justice at Park University. She moved to Kansas a few years ago from Southern California with her family. Hannah loves to be outside, and is excited to be able to combine her love of nature with her passion for teaching. Hannah enjoys creating art, going on hikes, and playing with her dog Elvis. Hannah's goal in her services at Well Wilderness is to help facilitate play and an appreciation for nature with the children in the program. She is also a proud aunt to a niece and nephew who live nearby.
"My nature element is mountains, as I have always admired their sheer enormity and boldness. I love that when you look at mountains from afar you have no idea of the trails, rivers or animals that they hide. I love to explore and hike on mountains as well."
“Success is a journey not a destination” -Ralph Emerson
TODDLERPLAY/ENRICHMENT ASSISTANT LEARNING ALLY ~ OLATHE LOCATION
Nature Element: BUTTERFLIES
Lindsey is an Olathe local where she grew up most of her life. She graduated from Johnson County Community College with a degree in General Science, and has also been a Certified Nurse Assistant since 2012. Lindsey has worked in the child care field for over 10 years. She has worked as a private nanny, and also as a Lead teacher in an infant & toddler specialty center. Lindsey is also a mom to two adventurous boys, who keep her grounded in her love for all things nature!
One of Lindsey’s favorite things to do for fun is to go hammocking in many of the parks local to our area. While in those areas she loves to go hiking & explore the creeks with her boys! She is also an avid reader, painter, seamstress, & calligrapher. Lindsey loves to combine her love of art & sensory exploration to the nature based setting, & watching the kids explore the world in ways they never have before!
"Butterflies are the epitome of transformation. As human beings, we are constantly learning, evolving, and striving to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.
Caterpillars teach us that life is so beautiful when you give yourself the grace to persevere so that one day, you may spread your wings and fly.
Butterflies also remind me of kindness; how one flap of a butterflies wing can cause a hurricane on the other side of the world. What if that flap of the butterfly’s wing was instead a small kind gesture, that led to a monumental amount of kindness being spread across the world?
Butterflies don’t know the color of their wings, but human eyes know how beautiful they are. Likewise, you don’t know how good you are, but others can see that you are special.”
SEASONAL ASSISTANT LEARNING ALLY & TEAM COMMUNICATION ADMIN
Nature Element: wind
Theresa Hernandez graduated from UMKC with a degree in Psychology in 2016. Since graduating she has earned certifications in Trauma Informed Care while working in child welfare in Kansas and Missouri. She also has experience as a nanny for young children. She is passionate about helping children reach their developmental goals through play, social interaction, and creativity.
“I chose wind as my nature element because sometimes I need a physical reminder to slow down and be present. Going on walks, visiting the beach, or even just the walk between my apartment to my car, the wind always has a way to blow through me and remind me to take a deep breath and be present to the moment I am living. Children remind me of the wind. They do not need the reminder to be present, like most adults do. They are the wind that blows around us and gently reminds us to be present and enjoy the beautiful world around us.”
Dr. Carissa Stanton
Nature Element: SOIL
Carissa Stanton, MD is a holistic pediatrician that opened her own virtual and home-visit based direct pediatric care practice called Mindful Pediatrics in 2020. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition from Kansas State University, Medical Degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine, completed her pediatrics residency at University of Kansas Medical Center, and online Pediatric Integrative Medicine training from the University of Arizona.
She is passionate about the holistic care of children. Nature is an important part of caring for a child’s mind, body, & spirit. Her collaboration with Well Wilderness Kids is in full support of using nature to expand the wellbeing of children.
"The definition of soil is “a mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms that together support life”. Soil is what creates and supports life. Just like a placenta provides the elements to create a human, soil provides the elements to create plants and other life on earth. My job is to help parents cultivate the “soil” that supports and creates their child’s mind, body, spirit and environment: nutrition, microbiome, water, air, rest, relationships, etc. Plus exposure to dirt is important to a child’s health as it helps build the immune system, sensory development, and boosts mood. It’s also fun, so take your child to play in the dirt at Well Wilderness, it’s pediatrician recommended!"
Amy Zoe Schonhoff
MINDFULNESS ALLY FOR PARENTS & PROFESSIONALS
Nature Element: earth
Amy Zoe Schonhoff is the founder of Mindfulness in the Heartland, a venture dedicated to providing training and education in the practices and principles of mindfulness. She has been a mindfulness practitioner for over 25 years, is a qualified teacher of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) through UMass Medical School’s Center for Mindfulness. She is also a trained Mindfulness Educator for grades K-12 through Mindful Schools. She holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Iowa & has worked for many years as a nonprofit professional. It is her intention to inspire others to live as if every moment matters.
"Earth is mother; the life-giver and sustainer. When we attend to her wisdom, life grows and flourishes. Much like the element of earth, mindfulness can provide us with fertile ground to anchor our roots—a perpetual source of strength, stability, and peace that resides within each of us."
LICENSED CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKER
MINDFULNESS ALLY FOR PRE-TEENS/TEENS & PARENTS
Nature Element: SUNSHINE
Moe Edmonds is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, having served in many capacities, including within the foster care system, an early childhood education and social services center, a pediatric hospital and currently as a high school social worker. She is passionate about holistic mental wellness, advocacy and the empowerment of children and families.
Alongside her work as a social worker, Moe is a 200-HR Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Instructor. Over ten years ago, she was drawn to this ancient practice for its ability to guide her in grounding and providing space for connecting to her mind, body and spirit. Moe is a dedicated yogi, committed to self-inquiry, study, meditation, pranayama (breathwork), karmic action and asana (yogic postures and movement).
By combining these modalities, Moe offers an inviting, trauma-informed, healing approach to getting to know oneself and connecting with the world around you.
"Every day the sun rises and sets. One constant in a sea change. It provides reassurance on days that might not go as planned, that we can close the chapter on one day and rise with the sun, a new day and new opportunities the next. Some days, the sun is covered in clouds, but yet still there, still persisting through. Some days, the sun shines bright, vibrant and powerful, a symbol of light and strength. The sunshine resonates with the light that we each carry within ourselves."