NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. — For more than 20 years, Jackie Kingston has made it her mission to conserve our local sea turtle population and educate the public. She recently combined that passion with her love for working special needs adults.
“I started this branch because it’s just always been on my heart to help people with special needs and I just didn’t know what exactly that was going to look like until about 3 or 4 years ago when I decided to merge what I was doing in the world of sea turtle conservation with this passion that I had for helping adults with special needs,” said Jackie Kingston, Executive Director and Founder of Sea Turtle Adventures.
Kingston named the newest branch of her non-profit, “iCare”. It gives adults with disabilities in Palm Beach County the chance to explore things they never otherwise would get the chance to.
“Everything we do is somewhat innovative and out of the box for this population. So, I’ll take them on a boat fishing or kayaking, paddle boarding or we’ll go on the beach and dig up a sea turtle nest while we’re riding on the ATVs,” said Kingston.
This summer, Kingston hosted a 5 week-long biology boot camp program for adults in the program.
“I’ve known Jackie for so many years and I love her. She taught me how to do sea turtle work and I just absolutely love everybody,” said Hannah Zegel who is an ambassador for the program.
It’s grown from 7 participants to 90 individuals ages 18 to 70 years old.
“I have no children, I tell everyone I have 90,” said Kingston.
The program relies heavily on volunteers who act as buddies for participants at events.
“No matter what level these folks are you can really tell they just truly appreciate everything she is showing them. And just her energy with the program is amazing,” said Joe Fernandez De La Reguera, a volunteer.
Kingston says the program has had to scale back due to COVID-19 but she is looking forward to expanding even more once restrictions are lifted.
“The most fulfilling part is doing what God has intended me to do and what He designed me to do. So for me, I just enjoy every single day and every moment of it,” said Kingston.
Kingston works out of her office and small center in North Palm Beach. She really relies on the community to keep going. If you have any interest in supporting them financially or volunteering your time, you can find more information here.
If you know of someone doing incredible things for others, please send their story to us at InspiringSFL@wptv.com.