NOVEC HELPS, NOVEC, and other community sponsors partnered with Leadership Prince William's 2020 to benefit the Youth for Tomorrow campus. Together, $25,000 was raised to build a sensory room and a “confidence” obstacle course at the campus.
Andrea Van Wambeke, general manager of Sweeney Barn in Manassas, says her Leadership Prince William class of nearly 40 members came up with the idea of a sensory room and obstacle course after working in teams to pick an annual project. When COVID caused closures, they realized changes would have to happen to get the project completed. “We’d already come up with a concept, we already made a promise to these kids,” said Wambeke. “We really felt an obligation to continue that promise to them, even if we couldn't get together in a large group of volunteers and people.”
For Lawrence Schuster, another member of the group and Director of Utilization Review at Youth for Tomorrow, the problems faced getting the project off the ground can almost mirror the obstacle course itself. “All these kids experience obstacles in their life, and you're always going to face obstacles. The goal is to overcome them and find a way around them,” he says. “We came up with the concept of the obstacle course as seeing a challenge in real time and finding a way to overcome it.”
Rather than starting over, Van Wambeke says her class wanted to keep its promise to Youth for Tomorrow by raising money for the room and obstacle course.
Thanks to donations from throughout Prince William County, the financial goal was met, helping the concept become a reality. Schuster says they hope to begin construction in spring or early summer 2021. “These kids at Youth for Tomorrow have promises made to them their whole lives and haven't had them fulfilled,” says Wambeke, “we don't want to be the ones to do that to them again.”