Saturday, November 25, 2017
News Roundup

Viera drives effort to bring ‘sensory friendly’ park to New Tampa

RECOMMENDED READING


NEW TAMPA ó Tampa City Council member Luis Viera vividly recalls growing up with a brother with developmental disabilities and autism.

As a child, his family left its Catholic church in Tampa and joined a Baptist church in Brandon because it offered a special education ministry for his older brother Juan. They needed a place that made them feel that they matter.

"Having an organization or local government really means the world," Viera said. "My brother is still involved with that church. You go where the accommodation is."

Inspired by his personal story with autism and buoyed by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhornís "Autism Friendly Tampa" initiative, Viera is pushing for the creation of a sensory friendly park in the New Tampa area.

With $90,000 in funding approved in the latest city budget, the park is in the design and development phase. Viera expects completion in two years for the park, which will be located behind the BJís Wholesale Club on Commerce Palms Drive in Tampa Palms.

The location puts in a sort of geographic center for the north Tampa area, just a short drive for those south of the location in communities like Forest Hills and for families north in communities such as Hunterís Green.

In announcing his autism initiative earlier this year, Buckhorn estimated that one in 68 people is somehow affected by autism. Buckhorn said he has come to recognize that for those families, what would otherwise be a simple trip to the pool can be complicated. Finding a summer program can be virtually impossible.

City Hall has pledged to work with the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of South Florida to give residents with autism the same experience that the rest of the city has. Buckhorn described it as "more fun, more friends and more acceptance."

The center estimates that as many 40,000 families in Hillsborough County are impacted by autism.

The prospects excite Viera, who said the park will be as inspiring as it is functional for the many families dealing with autism in the area.

"Itís one of the things Iíve been very passionate about," Viera said. "Itís something Iíve wanted to support and be supportive of and build up as much as I can.

"You donít have to be in north Tampa or New Tampa to enjoy the park. If youíre living in east Tampa, West Tampa. If someone cares and is being empathetic and recognizes your plight, it means a lot to you."

Contact Ernest Hooper at ehooper@tampabay.com.

Comments

Region football: Armwood 31, Ocala Vanguard 17

SEFFNER ó Armwood appeared to be on its way to yet another rout through the first 24 minutes of football Friday night.James Miller delivered a crunching hit on the opening kickoff. The defense looked suffocating, holding Ocala Vanguard to a mere 23 y...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Region football: Plant 13, Venice 10

Region football: Plant 13, Venice 10

LAKELAND ó The game ó and the season ó were supposed to be over.Lakeland was set to exact revenge. The Dreadnaughts had the lead and the ball in the final three minutes and were heading for a field goal. Then it happened. The magic continued.Plantís ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Region football: Immokalee 42, Lakewood 14

IMMOKALEE ó The final score wasnít truly indicative of what transpired on Friday night.Lakewood fell to a dynamic Immokalee squad 42-14 in a tough environment in a Class 5A region final.The Spartans (9-2) forced three turnovers and held Immokalee (12...
Updated: 1 hour ago
State semifinal football: Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna 49, Clearwater Central Catholic 3

State semifinal football: Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna 49, Clearwater Central Catholic 3

CLEARWATER ó Stocked with a wealth of Division I-A commits and prepared by a heavy-duty schedule, Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna spent three months building for Friday nightís Class 3A state semifinal game.The Lions played at another level against top-s...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Region football: Venice 48, Tampa Bay Tech 17

VENICE ó Tampa Bay Tech not only had to stop a hot receiver in Friday nightís Class 7A region final against Venice, but a hot running back as well. That proved to be too much.Indians receiver Jaivon Heiligh caught 14 passes for 193 yards and three to...
Updated: 1 hour ago

State semifinal football: Hialeah Champagnat Catholic 38, Cambridge Christian 0

TAMPA ó Hialeah Champagnat Catholic was well on its way to a third unanswered touchdown, but the Lions just couldnít stop blocking their own path. In one second-quarter drive during Fridayís 2A state semifinal against Cambridge Christian, Champagnat ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning attitude under fire after loss to Capitals

Lightning attitude under fire after loss to Capitals

WASHINGTON ó You donít often sense frustration in captain Steven Stamkosí voice, at least not this season. With the Lightning off to its best start in franchise history, there havenít been many reasons to chide. Every criticism seems nitpicky. But af...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs-Falcons: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions for Sundayís 1 p.m. game

Bucs-Falcons: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions for Sundayís 1 p.m. game

The Bucs face the defending NFC champion in its new home Sunday in Atlanta.Hereís the Timesí Bucs coverage teamís predictions for Tampa Bayís 1 p.m. game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:MATTY ICE-FOLLIESRick Stroud, @NFLStroud: T...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Freshman quarterback leads Pitt to 24-14 upset over No. 2 Miami

Freshman quarterback leads Pitt to 24-14 upset over No. 2 Miami

PITTSBURGH ó Miami spent the better part of 13 months cultivating the nationís longest winning streak behind a series of comebacks that returned the swagger to "The U" in all of its "Turnover Chain" glory. Sluggish through the first half against Pitt...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Florida-Florida State: Whatís really riding on Saturdayís game

Florida-Florida State: Whatís really riding on Saturdayís game

GAINESVILLE ó If misery loves company, at least the Gators and Seminoles have each other.Thatís about the only positive in the least-appealing Florida-Florida State showdown in decades. Both enter Ben Hill Griffin Stadium today 4-6 ó only the second ...
Updated: 2 hours ago