Many things have changed in 2020, but not the dedication and commitment of many exceptional individuals and program to the children of our community. The Children’s Trust Champions for Children Awards Ceremony annually honors individuals and programs that have achieved greatness in their service to children and families. This year, those efforts have been more important than ever, and the winners are among the most deserving in The Children’s Trust’s history.
Hosted by 6-time Emmy Award-winning TV news reporter and anchor Laurie Jennings, The Trust’s signature event will take place virtually for the first time ever at 6:15 p.m., Wednesday, December 9. Anyone can watch it by visiting www.thechildrenstrust.org/champions.
“At The Children’s Trust, we draw inspiration from our providers and those in the community who work so diligently for the children and families of Miami-Dade. That is why we hold Champions for Children so close to our hearts and are glad to showcase the best of them,” said James R. Haj, president and CEO of The Children’s Trust.
Director of the Miami-Dade County Juvenile Services Department Morris Copeland will be receiving the signature David Lawrence Jr. Champion for Children Award for Lifetime Achievement and Dedication to Children. Ned Edwards, GEM Specialist at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami, will be receiving the Direct Service to Children and Families Award. Hon. Nicholas Duran will be receiving the Excellence in Public Policy Award.
Kristi House, FLIPANY Program and Be Strong International will receive Program of the Year awards in the annual event hosted by The Children’s Trust.
Champions for Children is a signature event amongst Miami-Dade’s robust network of child and family advocates and inspires others to follow in the footsteps of these local leaders who have distinguished themselves by their exceptional service to the community.
The event was made possible thanks to the support of Presenting Sponsor TD Bank, Gold Sponsors Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, City National Bank, Florida International University’s Center for Children and Families, and PNC Bank. Silver Sponsors included ACentral, Key Biscayne Community Foundation, the University of Miami, Webauthor, and WOW Marketing, while Bronze Sponsors included BoardroomPR, Community Health of South Florida, HistoryMiami Museum, UHealth Jackson Children’s Care, PreK.Club, The de Moya Foundation, Wels, and ZipData.net.
· Director of the Miami-Dade County Juvenile Services Department Morris Copeland, David Lawrence Jr. Champion for Children Award: Morris Copeland serves as the Director of the Miami-Dade County Juvenile Services Department (JSD), the processing facility for all arrested juveniles in Miami-Dade County. In this capacity, Mr. Copeland continues to advocate passionately for the at-risk children in our community. During his tenure as Director, JSD has documented a 62% reduction in juvenile arrests and a 39% reduction in arrests of children 12 and under. Mr. Copeland is deeply committed to developing and implementing innovative and humane juvenile justice strategies that will have a positive impact in the lives of the at-risk children and families served by the JSD.
· Ned Edwards - Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami, Excellence in Direct Service to Children and Families Award: In his official role as a GEM Specialist, Ned Edwards facilitates all group mentoring programs, working with youth waiting to be matched with a mentor. He implements the programs himself, works with partners who run certain activities, engages waitlist youth in enrichment activities, sets up and helps to run special programmatic events (i.e., holiday celebrations), and more. His focus is on ensuring that program youth are setting healthy goals and making progress toward those goals.
· Hon. Nicholas Duran, Excellence in Public Policy Award: Nicholas X. Duran is currently serving his second term as a Florida State Representative for District 112 in Miami. He is past member of The Children’s Trust Board of Directors. As a state representative, Duran has helped pass the Keep Our Graduates Working Act and fought to increase the age for smoking and vaping of electronic cigarettes. Currently, he is the executive director of the Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics and serves on the board of trustees for the Miami-Dade County Public Health Trust – Jackson Health System, board of directors for Epilepsy Florida, and is the immediate past chair for the University of South Florida Covering Kids and Families State Coalition.
· Kristi House, Program of the Year: Kristi House is dedicated to eradicating child abuse and child sex trafficking - working nationally on solutions, and locally to heal child-victims. Project GOLD provides outreach and services to children exploited in sex trafficking to help them escape dangerous lives at the hands of traffickers and predators.
· FLIPANY, Program of the Year: The mission of FLIPANY is to foster healthy lives through nutrition education, physical activities, and wellness initiatives. It was a main player in helping to provide meals to children when schools abruptly closed in response to the COVID pandemic and children no longer had access to meals that many of them depend on. Flipany created a quick response to those in need by to ensuring all children were able to receive meals.
· Be Strong International, Program of the Year: The program provides holistic educational services and resources to youth and parents from broken families in order for them to develop and maintain healthy relationships. For nearly a quarter-century, they have provided youth and parents in South Florida with tools to make better decisions about their personal, professional and social relationships.
About The Children’s Trust
The Children’s Trust is a dedicated source of revenue established by voter referendum to improve the lives of children and families in Miami-Dade County by making strategic investments in their future. For more information visit www.TheChildrensTrust.org
Chief Public Policy & Community Engagement Officer, The Children’s Trust