CK Norris youth awaiting Guinness determination on car built in Building Dreams program
By Adrielle Griffin
Completely KIDS Communications Manager
It has headlights, taillights, brakes and mirrors. It follows the basic requirements of a shatterproof windshield – even if you don’t look through it – horn and seatbelt. Music will play from its 6-inch Kenwood speakers. And if fully charged, it could get you nearly to West Omaha from Norris Middle School, where Completely KIDS youth helped build it.
It’s registered as Nebraska TRB 383 and tops out at 22 mph. And at just under 4 feet long and just over 2 feet wide, it may very well be the world’s smallest roadworthy car. Guinness World Records still has to decide.
Tyrome Williams builds dreams. More importantly, he helps youth build their own dreams. It’s why he started a program called Building Dreams. It services middle school youth throughout Omaha including those in the Completely KIDS program at Norris Middle School
The skills that youth learn in Building Dreams come from hands-on experiences related to the blue collar industry. Youth come away having used problem solving and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competencies.
Tyrome teaches them automotive and motorcycle mechanics, woodworking and carpentry, engineering and design, basic electronics and circuits, and 3-D printing.
“Everything I teach the kids has value to it,” he said.
Tyrome points out that in November 2013, there were 4 million available jobs in the American economy and more than 75 percent of the top 25 jobs for 2014 involved STEM fields.
“Some of these kids will go to college,” Tyrome said. “Some will go to trade school. I try to give them alternative advisement.”
What he really does is open the door of possibilities. He expands the opportunity field and inspires kids to look beyond the norm. He simply teaches the kids that “not all science takes place in a laboratory.”
‘They’re my stakeholders’
It’s in this Building Dreams program that Norris youth have taken apart tape recorders, DVD players and snow blowers. They have crafted an upholstered bench using a Chevy pick-up tailgate. They have built and launched paper rockets.
And, along with youth from McMillan Middle School, they have built what is possibly the world’s smallest car.
“Now I get to have a glimpse of what it was like to build a car,” said 13-year-old CK Norris student, Kevin, who wants to be an engineer.
Discovery is a huge part of Tyrome’s Building Dreams, as is discipline and confidence-building.
“The kids usually see me carrying something strange,” he said. “Not knowing is part of the excitement.”
Tyrome provides the instruction, a safe environment and the resources … the kids take it from there.
“I try to allow them to be the ones in charge because they’re my stakeholders,” Tyrome said.
Just as the opportunities for the kids’ futures are endless, so are those for the future of the car. Tyrome hopes to sell the car for charity. Any profits would be reinvested into the kids.
In the meantime, he and the kids at Norris are envisioning their next big project. Batman’s Batpod perhaps? Or maybe an Optimist Prime truck? No matter the project, Tyrome and the CK Norris kids will be building their dreams one VHS player, one radio, one rocket at a time.
Though he spends nearly 20 hours a week providing Building Dreams at five area schools, Tyrome also works as the building supervisor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha Criss Library, where you can often view works built by kids in the program.
Don’t be fooled by Tyrome’s knack for using his hands. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in nonprofit and public administration and is currently working toward a master’s degree in organizational leadership and management. He expects to graduate in December.