National FFCMH 28th Annual Conference in Orlando

National FFCMH 28th Annual Conference

This event is hosted by: National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health
Website: http://www.ffcmh.org/conference
Registration: https://nationalffcmh.eventbrite.com

Did you know that 1 in 5 children in America experience social, emotional and behavioral challenges? One undisputed constant in our society is that all children who survive childhood and adolescence will become adults. For children who experience untreated behavioral health disorders, this typically results in adults who continue to struggle with symptoms, who become parents and who perpetuate this cycle. The impact of this reoccurring cycle is felt throughout our society.

For over 25 years, the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health has been the nationwide advocacy organization with families as its sole focus, playing an important role in helping children, youth and their families whose lives are impacted by mental health challenges. This important work is supported largely by the generous donors like you who contribute to our cause.

Our 28th Annual Conference will feature many great workshops and speakers this year, joining hundreds of mental health advocates and professionals from across the nation as we work to educate and empower children, youth, and families!

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Arts Season Preview: Six events for an arts lover's serious side

Of course, not everything arts-related is meant to be jolly. Here are a half-dozen events from the 2017-18 arts season that dive into weightier issues while they entertain.

•"Baggage Claims": In this Orlando Museum of Art exhibition, an international group of 18 artists explores the mobility of global culture, especially in regard to the humanitarian, economic and political concerns of those fleeing conflict or other hardships. The title refers to physical travel, but also to "emotional baggage" that people cannot leave behind. (Sept. 15-Dec. 31, omart.org)

•"La Boheme": Opera Orlando forgoes the iconic comedy mask for its companion – tragedy. "La Boheme" tells the story of impoverished friends in 19th-century Paris. At its center is the love of Mimi and Rodolfo, a romance derailed by illness. (Nov. 15-19, operaorlando.org)

•"Romeo and Juliet": Another case of love gone tragically wrong takes the stage as Orlando Ballet presents a dance adaptation of Shakespeare's best-known romance, set to a score by Prokofiev. The young couple are torn apart by their warring families with disastrous consequences. (Feb. 9-11, orlandoballet.org)

•"American Roots": This Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra concert features two works by the great U.S. composer Aaron Copland. His "Quiet City" is an ode to New York – and the lonely people who inhabit it. The thorny issues of politics, love, death and religion inspired his "Old American Songs." (April 2, orlandophil.org)

•"Writings on the Wall": NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will speak at Rollins College's Winter Park Institute this spring. Although his basketball playing was serious business, don't be surprised if the six-time league MVP has more important things on his mind. An activist and best-selling author, Abdul-Jabbar regularly contributes to The Washington Post and Time magazine, where he writes on socially relevant and politically controversial topics. (April 4, winterparkinstitute.org)

•"African-American Masterpieces": Marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park presents a concert of three symphonic spirituals: "Negro Symphony," "And They Lynched Him on a Tree" and "The Ordering of Moses." (April 21-22, bachfestivalflorida.org)

Top 10 Things to Do This Summer in Orlando

With the help of our Facebook fans, here's our list of the hottest summer "must-dos" in the Orlando area.

1. Our Facebook fan Tiffany N. suggests Gatorland, and starting this month, experience 1,200 feet of high-flying adventure on the new Screamin' Gator Zip Line.

2. Explore The Grand Reef, opening June 10 at Discovery Cove. For a more exhilarating adventure, try the underwater walking tour, SeaVenture, which offers up-close encounters with schools of fish and rays. Don't forget to swim with the dolphins while you're there (from Facebook fan Allison W.).

3. Cycle through the treetops on the Cypress Canopy Cycle, a new ecotourism experience at Forever Florida that's the first of its kind in the U.S.

4. Spend your summer nights swaying to the tunes of live concerts at the Amway Center, House of Blues, Hard Rock Live Orlando or check out the summer concert series at Universal Studios (Saturday nights June 11-July 16) and Epcot (June 12 - July 30).

5. As our Facebook fan Constanze N. suggests, indulge in some retail therapy in Orlando's ever-growing shopping options, including The Mall at Millenia and Orlando Premium Outlets.

6. The summer must-do from Facebook fan Amanda P.? "EAT!" Well, treat your taste buds at one of Orlando's newest eateries like Pine 22 and Chico's Dirty Tacos and Tequila in downtown Orlando or Cocina 214 in Winter Park.

7. Beat the summer heat at Orlando's coolest water parks, including Aquatica - SeaWorld's Waterpark, Wet ‘n Wild - Orlando (from Facebook fan Justin E.), Disney's Typhoon Lagoon or Disney's Blizzard Beach.

8. If kicking back at cool pool is a must for your resort stay, check out the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, Nickelodeon Suites Resort, Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa or Orlando World Center Marriott (editor's note: their pool was voted one of the World's Coolest Hotel Pools by Forbes!).

9. Celebrate Independence Day at SeaWorld Orlando, Universal Orlando Resort, Walt Disney World Resort or Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando for the Fireworks at the Fountain event.

10. Keep the family cool at one of Orlando's indoor museums like the Orlando Science Center, The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art or even Ripley's Believe It or Not! Orlando Odditorium (from Facebook fans Joe K. and Christi S.).

Orlando's 5 Strangest Attractions

1. Gatorland

Part of Florida's great charm is its penchant for local kitsch, and Gatorland certainly fits the bill. For more than 60 years, this quirky spot has entertained travelers from the moment they stroll through the park's enormous, alligator mouth-shaped entrance. The 110-acre theme park is the self-proclaimed "Alligator Capital of the World," and houses hundreds of gators which you'll see up-close on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Alligator Breeding Marsh, or during one of the parks Gator Wrestlin' or Gator Jumparoo (yes, gators can jump) shows. Adventurous visitors can ride the 1,200-foot-long Screamin' Gator Zipline, whizzing past hungry gators down below. If you still don't have your fill of reptiles, the Trainer for a Day program allows you to hold baby alligators.

2. Holy Land Experience

Billed as a "living, biblical history museum," the Holy Land Experience easily wins our award for the most unexpected Orlando attraction. This Christian-themed park recreates the ancient city of Jerusalem. You'll enter the complex through an archway modeled after the Damascus Gate, then wander past 40 exhibits, including a Middle Eastern marketplace complete with touts dressed in period garb, and a replica of the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were unearthed. Interactivity is key at the Holy Land, and guests can watch live entertainment in the Temple Plaza, take part in a Baptism ceremony, or even watch a live reenactment of the Passion of Christ.

3. The Presidents Hall of Fame

Sure you can trek all the way up to Washington D.C. for a lesson in White House history – or, while you're chilling in Orlando, you can make your way to the President's Hall of Fame, which pays homage to the nation's capital, as well as its monuments and history. Visitors can stroll past miniature recreations of sights like Mount Rushmore, the Lincoln Memorial, and of course, the White House. In fact, the White House has been so lovingly designed that there are representations of each room of the house during every president's residency there – yup, all 43 of them. These White House displays rotate regularly. Other exhibits include recreations of First Lady inaugural ball gowns, animatronic presidents, china patterns, and even a dresser that once lived in Caroline Kennedy's bedroom.

4. American Ghost Adventures

Too often, visitors arrive in Orlando and only experience the thrills of the city's shiny, new attractions, when in fact, the town has a storied history that's also well worth exploring. The City of Orlando was founded in 1885, and today, people can see some of that history in the original building of Church Street Station and on historic tours. One unique way to dive into the city's past is on a haunted tour with American Ghost Adventures. Guides with a penchant for the paranormal lead guests on a hunt for the hereafter's (mostly friendly) spirits. You'll trek through some of the city's oldest hotels and buildings, passing by notorious haunted spots. During the latter half of the tour, guests are given EMF detectors, so that they can witness some of the electromagnetic oddities in Orlando's buildings for themselves. A haunted pub tour is also available, for those in need of liquid courage.

5. Wonderworks

No, you're not seeing things; the Wonderworks building actually is built upside down, and plopped smack on the street in Orlando. This "amusement park for the mind" serves to spark the imagination and broaden the intellect with more than 100 interactive exhibits. Legend has it that the space was once a top-secret laboratory in the Bermuda Triangle, but after an experiment when terribly wrong it was flung through the skies and landed upside down on International Drive. Visitors will have the chance to experience an earthquake in the Disaster Zone, lie on a bed of 3,500 nails, experience hurricane-force winds of 71-mph in the Hurricane Shack, and climb into a replica space capsule.

Where to Stay in Orlando for Sightseeing

Most first-time visitors to Orlando come to visit the famous theme parks: SeaWorld, Walt Disney World, and Universal Studios, about 10 to 20 miles from the downtown area. A short drive from the theme parks, the popular tourist area around International Drive is home to large outlet malls, water parks such as Wet 'n' Wild, and other tourist attractions. Below are some highly-rated hotels, with swimming pools, in convenient locations for visiting Orlando's top tourist sites and outlet shopping malls:

Luxury Hotels: Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, in a gated community at the namesake theme park, ensconces guests in serene rooms and suites with views of the fireworks and an array of enticing spa services. Waldorf Astoria Orlando is another top luxury option, a five-minute complimentary shuttle ride from Walt Disney World. Guests can use the facilities at the more affordable yet still top-notch Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek next door, including a three-acre lazy river pool and waterslide. Also close to the Disney theme parks, as well as outlet shopping malls, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is another family-friendly and more affordable luxury option.

Middle-Range Hotels: A free shuttle whisks you to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure from Drury Inn & Suites, a good value mid-range option. Close to Walt Disney World and outlet shopping, Marriott's Cypress Harbour has two-bedroom suites and villas with fully-equipped kitchens that are great for families, while Homewood Suites Orlando/International Drive/Convention Center sits in a convenient location 15 minutes by car from Walt Disney World and only 10 minutes by car from Universal Studios and SeaWorld.

Budget Hotels: In a fantastic location, about four minutes by car from Walt Disney World, Hampton Inn Orlando/Lake Buena Vista offers great value with free parking and a complimentary shuttle to the park. From the Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando Universal Studios, you can take advantage of the free shuttle to Universal Studios or walk to the park in about 15 minutes, and the Comfort Suites near Universal Studios offers large, clean rooms within walking distance of restaurants.

Tips and Tours: How to Make the Most of Your Visit to Orlando

Helicopter Tour: One of the most unique ways to see Orlando and the surrounding area is from the air. A Helicopter Tour from Walt Disney World Resort Area offers a chance to gain a bird's-eye view of the theme parks and get a true picture of their size and layout.Day Trip to Kennedy Space Center: One of the biggest attractions in Florida can be easily visited on the Kennedy Space Center Day Trip with Transport from Orlando. This comprehensive tour allows plenty of time to explore the many exhibits at this large complex and includes IMAX films, a tour of NASA's Launch Headquarters, a private tour of the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit, and hotel pickup and drop-off. For a slightly shorter and more economical tour with a few less perks, try the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral Tour.

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