May 15, 2019

Today we visit with Nikki Wilson, the Founder and President of Dream Makers Youth Foundation in Atlanta.  Later in the show Bruce Gale brings us an interview with one of our earlier Kid Heroes, Preston Sharp.

Last week we talked about the importance of keeping your kids active.  Everybody, including children with disabilities, needs physical activity for good health. Unfortunately, children with special needs are quite often overlooked or excluded when physical activities are planned and in schools. It’s not intentional.  It’s just that many don’t understand the abilities of these children or they may fear a potential injury because of the limitations of the student.

Physical activity offers these kids important benefits, just as it does for kids without special needs.  Even when a child’s mobility is limited, they can still participate in and enjoy many sports and other fitness activities.

Too often, children with disabilities are forced to the sidelines when it comes to school sports. In some cases, schools may not have the necessary to equipment to ensure a child with disabilities can participate safely.  For the children that find themselves spectators, the feeling is one of exclusion.

Given the right help, children with physical disabilities can participate in almost any sport or exercise: basketball, tennis, track, skiing, swimming, soccer, horseback riding, rock climbing and so much more. 

Over the past decade, there has been a push for inclusion in school sports.  Students who have developmental and physical disabilities, are able to take part in the sports programs by using assistive equipment. 

And this brings us to today's highlighted charity, Dream Makers Youth Foundation... 

Dream Makers Youth Foundation (DMYF) is a non-profit organization that provides community-based educational, recreational, and therapeutic services to children with special needs throughout Metropolitan Atlanta. Their mission is to enable children with special needs to be as independent as their conditions allow, within their natural environments.

They schedule speakers through their Parent Empowerment Series to discuss issues relevant to raising children with special needs.

The Sports Teams for All Regardless of Specialty (S.T.A.R.S.) Adaptive Sports Program encourages children with special needs to actively adjust to their conditions by providing them with opportunities to participate in sports and recreational activities.  In partnership with the Universal Tennis Academy, they offer free tennis lessons to these kids.

Bev had the opportunity to talk with Nikki K. Wilson, Founder & President.

On Veterans Day 2015, while visiting the grave of his grandfather at a Redding cemetery, then 10-year-old Preston Sharp noticed the lack of flags or flowers on the graves to honor local veterans.  This both troubled and inspired Preston.  He was distressed that our local veterans were going unrecognized on such a momentous day and motivated to do something to change it.  This was the beginning of Veteran Flowers and Flags.

As of this month, Preston has organized the placement of more than 210,000 flags and red carnations on veterans’ headstones in 25 states.  He has accomplished this with the assistance of many in the community who come out to meet him and to clean headstones, replace weathered flags and flowers and say "Thank You" to those that have provided their services to our country. 

Preston Sharp's commitment to honor veterans has been recognized by local and national leaders. He was invited to the White House in December 2018 and also visited the Pentagon, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Walter Reed Military Hospital Christmas Party.

Bruce Gale brings us today’s interview with one of our earlier Kid Heroes, Preston Sharp.

Preston Sharp
Preston Sharp