Concord teen works to help neurodivergent children 

November 24, 2023

Concord resident Timmy Smith has a vision —and that vision is making a difference for the families who attend the TimberNook Middlesex County program in Sudbury. 

“My interest in this topic is personal,” says Timmy, a high school student at Groton School who volunteered for four weeks over the summer with TimberNook.  

“I have a neurodivergent family member and know many neurodivergent kids in [my] community who have struggled in schools, after school programs, and camps,” he says, explaining that his summer goal was to support community neurodiversity work in partnership with TimberNook and learn how to be a better advocate. 

TimberNook allows children of any ability to develop their social-emotional and fine/gross motor skills through free play. All programs are held outside at the Nobscot Reservation in Sudbury. 

“One of my most important takeaways from this summer is the importance of programs that promote acceptance rather than require neurodivergent kids to ‘fit in the box,’” says Timmy.  

TimberNook is one of the children’s programs at Minute Man Arc, which has worked for 65 years to improve the lives of children and adults with disabilities. 

After his volunteer time ended, Timmy turned his sights to fundraising. 

First, his family donated an extra-large see-saw and a slack line from their home. Afterward, Timmy wrote a grant request for funds from Groton School. With the grant, the program purchased three wooden balance beams, a mud kitchen, a wooden cart, stumps for an outdoor obstacle course, and child-size shovels. 

Most recently, Timmy raised $2,100 in private donations for the program. 

“In the current world climate, young men and women like Timothy Smith give me great hope for the future generations,” says TimberNook Director Sherry Kenin.  

“When the negative tends to dominate the news, we need to celebrate the strong amazing individuals who are out there quietly moving mountains one rock at a time,” Kenin says. “I give great credit to Timothy’s parents, [who] have raised not one but two amazing young men and taught them the value of accepting and celebrating individuals for who they are and who focus on the collective good for all.” 

Although summer is a memory, Timmy, who plans to become a pediatrician, plans to stay involved.  

“I am grateful to the many families I met who took the time to learn about TimberNook and support the program,” he says.