By theParklander / March 1, 2015
If it's true that overnight success takes about fifteen years, then Jeb Niewood is right on track! After 13 years of successfully running Parkland Buddy Sports, Jeb wanted to move beyond athletics and expand the types of programs and projects being offered to special needs families. With the creation of a new charitable organization, Tomorrow's Dreams Today (TDT), he is doing just that.
Tomorrows Dreams Today is committed to unifying the typical and special needs populations in creative and engaging programs and projects and to provide volunteer opportunities for students. The nascent 501(c)(3) organization has initiated two innovative programs. They are Rock Dreams, a music program run in coordination with the School of Rock of Coral Springs, and Fit Friends, a fitness and training program designed and run in coordination with All 4 One Fitness of Coral Springs. Both programs employ the peer-to-peer model that unites the typical and special needs populations in friendly, creative and fun environments. An art therapy program, to be called Art Works, will be announced later in 2015.
What makes it all worthwhile? It's getting the positive feedback from the families of the kids in the programs. Juan Velazquez, father of Rock Star Matthew who has autism, says that Matthew enjoys every minute of the weekly jam session. Throughout the week he will talk about his upcoming "music class" on Saturday. "His smiles and giggles on the way to class are precious. He really enjoys playing the drums and took the microphone last week to belt out his rock rendition of The Wheels On The Bus. This program gives all of our kids with special needs a chance to enjoy music and play instruments. The smiles on their faces along with the energy in the room are priceless."
"As the parent of an autistic child," says Deirdre Scott, "I was overjoyed to hear about Tomorrow's Dreams Today! My son Liam looks forward to attending Rock Dreams and Fit Friends every week. Both programs are so well organized and have plenty of student volunteers to assist and interact with each child. Nothing makes me happier than to see my son smile and have fun."
Audrey Custodio, mom of Alyssa who has cerebral palsy, says that Alyssa has an amazing time in Rock Dreams. Her "Roadies" (student volunteers) "are so encouraging, kind and thoughtful and made learning the keyboard, guitar and percussion instruments so much fun for her." Andrew Musselman, the Creative Director at School of Rock," went above and beyond in mentoring the children and teens in the program and created an energetic and positive environment. And Jeb Niewood has succeeded again, in crafting an initiative for special needs kids on the heels of his tremendously successful Parkland Buddy Sports Program. We look forward to getting involved with all of the wonderful and beneficial programs that Tomorrow's Dreams Today continues to develop."
Mike Enlow, father of Michael who has autism says, "My son has been attending the Rock Dreams program for a few months and he loves it. Michael has always enjoyed music. He was so excited to get a chance to make his own music. Sometimes, if he hears a song he particularly likes, he'll just get up and dance around. He's always happy to be there and it really helps to bring him out of his shell."
In addition to these new programs, Tomorrow's Dreams Today is also working on projects, including a first of its kind park to be constructed in the City of Parkland that will allow the special needs and typical populations to share all of its elements, side by side. Over the past two years, Jeb Niewood has spearheaded efforts to get the City of Parkland to agree to re-design Terramar Park for this purpose. In hiring EDSA, an internationally acclaimed landscape architecture design consultant based in Fort Lauderdale, the city showed a great interest in helping Niewood bring his dream to reality. EDSA incorporated Jeb's concept for the park into a design that was presented and unanimously approved by the City Commission. In addition, the city commission unanimously agreed on renaming the park, Friendship Park at Terramar, better reflecting its purpose and meaning as a place for all people, typical and special needs alike.
To make a donation, enroll your child in a program or to volunteer, please email Jniewood@aol.com, call 954-753-9430 or visit www.tomorrowsdreamstoday.org. Don't forget to dream big!
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