The Children’s Trust presented its new Excellence in Youth Leadership Award at the annual Champions for Children Award Ceremony on Thursday, April 27 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Miami International Airport & Convention Center, located at 711 NW 72nd Ave, Miami, FL 33126. Nearly 1,200 attendees were in attendance.
This annual event has celebrated individuals and programs for 17 years for their outstanding contributions toward improving the lives of children and families in our community. The ceremony was presented by TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank.
"Congratulations to all of the honorees for this recognition. New this year, we were thrilled to expand our awards categories to include a well-deserved recognition that specifically highlights the contributions of youth leaders in our community who make big strides for the betterment of children and families," said The Children's Trust President & CEO James R. Haj. "By shining a spotlight on their accomplishments, we hope to inspire others and empower the next generation of change-makers. We believe that fostering and supporting youth leadership can build a stronger, more compassionate, and more equitable community for all."
The following individuals were honored:
- Lauren Page, an 11th grade student at Ransom Everglades School will be recognized as the inaugural recipient of the Excellence in Youth Leadership Award.
- Evelio C. Torres, President & CEO of Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade and Monroe will be presented with the distinguished David Lawrence Jr. Champion for Children Award for Lifetime Achievement and Dedication to Children.
- Abigail Peskin from the University of Miami Parent-Child Interaction Therapy program will receive the Excellence in Direct Service to Children and Families Award.
- Regina Davis, a long-time parental involvement and youth violence activist will also be honored with the Excellence in Advocacy Award.
Additionally, three Trust-funded programs were honored with the Program of the Year Award: Breakthrough Miami’s Summer Institute, Early Learning Coalition’s Thrive by 5 Child Care Scholarship Initiative and Jessie Trice Community Health System School Health Services.
The Trust takes great pride in recognizing the outstanding individuals and organizations who go above and beyond in their service to bring happiness, hope, and essential services to children and families in Miami-Dade. The annual Champions for Children Awards Ceremony is a significant occasion dedicated to celebrating these exceptional efforts.
The event was made possible thanks to the generous support of sponsors, including Presenting Sponsor TD Bank; Gold Sponsors City National Bank, FIU Center for Children and Families, Miami Herald/ El Nuevo Herald, University of Miami, and WOW Marketing; Silver Sponsors ACentral, Amazon, CHI Community Health of South Florida, Commissioner Raquel Regalado, GreenbergTraurig, Office of Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition, Webauthor, and Wels; and many others.
2023 Honorees Profiles:
Lauren Page, Excellence in Youth Leadership Award
Lauren Page is an 11th grade student at Ransom Everglades School and founder of the Page by Page Book Drive Program. Her lifelong mission to advocate for childhood literacy began in the second grade when she volunteered for a school that had no books on its shelves. Her nonprofit empowers children to organize, manage, and run book drives in their communities with the purpose of ending illiteracy, one book at a time. With more than half a million books distributed across the world worth more than $3.3 million, Ms. Page has received multiple recognitions including by the State of Florida who presented her with the Youth Advocate Award in 2022. She was also featured on Good Morning America with the honor from Disney as one its 50 Magic Makers in 2021. Ms. Page recently published a children’s book and research paper to spread awareness about literacy, with the goal of making literacy a right rather a privilege.
Evelio C. Torres, David Lawrence Jr. Champion for Children Award
Evelio Torres has served as president and executive director of the Early Learning Coalition (ELC) of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties since 2007. His career has been devoted to improving the lives of children in the foster care system and promoting high-quality early education. Mr. Torres has gone above and beyond in his efforts, often finding innovative solutions to ensure that children remain with their siblings or are placed in permanent homes. Additionally, he has been a staunch advocate for children's rights, leveraging his over 20 years of experience in state government to work with legislators and promote innovative solutions that enhance the quality and accountability of early learning programs. During the pandemic, Mr. Torres played a vital role in securing funding for child care providers in Miami-Dade who were struggling due to the pandemic's impact on their businesses.
Abigail Peskin, Excellence in Direct Services to Children and Families Award
Abigail "Abby" Peskin is a therapist at the University of Miami who delivers Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) services to families with disruptive behaviors or children at risk for child maltreatment. She is also involved in two nonprofit organizations in Miami-Dade County that provide free food and toy rentals to underserved populations. Ms. Peskin is dedicated to promoting effective multicultural tailoring of PCIT services and has created a virtual training guide that has helped thousands of clinicians worldwide. She intentionally seeks out families with difficult circumstances and mentors other therapists to work with underserved populations while advocating for racial and social justice. Her efforts have led to significant improvements in family functioning and children's behaviors, and has inspired her colleagues through her dedication, humility, and advocacy for families.
Regina Davis, Excellence in Community Advocacy Award
Regina Davis is a community advocate in Liberty City, Brownsville, and Allapattah known for her dedication to at-risk kids. She intervenes in gang wars, promotes safety, health, and education and organizes health and family resource fairs in her neighborhood. As a parental involvement activist, Ms. Davis is involved in PTA/PTSA and advocates for improved education and programming in her area. She is a key partner in the "We Rise" community education efforts and advocates for low-income housing complexes to have access to afterschool and summer programs, tutoring programs, and enrichment activities. She is particularly connected to Brownsville Middle School, personally ensuring the students in that school receive clear backpacks to make the school safer for all.
Breakthrough Miami’s Summer Institute, Program of the Year Award
Breakthrough Miami is a nonprofit organization that uses a "students-teaching-students" model to support traditionally underrepresented 5th-12th grade students to achieve post-secondary success. The program is tuition-free and provides a rigorous academic curriculum, hands-on learning, mentorship and teaching, college readiness, leadership development and diverse electives. Breakthrough Miami serves 1,300 middle and high school students across six year-round sites. The program has been nationally recognized and has received critical multi-year investments from The Children's Trust. The program has helped promote the social betterment and general improvement of the well-being of children and families in Miami-Dade County by closing the opportunity gap and ensuring that students maximize their potential.
Early Learning Coalition’s Thrive by 5 Child Care Scholarship Initiative, Program of the Year Award
This work of the Early Learning Coalition (ELC) is part of the Children’s Trust’s Thrive by 5 portfolio, which offers child scholarships for families earning up to 300% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to support them in their economic and career paths toward self-sufficiency. They help working families who become ineligible for the state’s school readiness subsidy, despite not being able to afford child care. The scholarship may only be utilized at high-quality program. The ELC staff works closely with families throughout the enrollment process and provides personal phone calls to ensure parents are supported. They also support child care providers in enrolling children, entering daily attendance, and meeting contractual requirements. The program is inclusive of all children, but those with disabilities have priority to receive the scholarship, and the ELC will assist families in finding the most appropriate child care facility to meet their child’s needs.
Jessie Trice Community Health System School Health Services, Program of the Year Award
Jessie Trice Community Health System (JTCHS) aims to provide access to innovative, high-quality comprehensive primary health care to all of their students and families. They collaborate and partner with The Children's Trust, Florida Health Department, and Miami-Dade County Public Schools to provide essential school health services to 40 public schools around the county. JTCHS has been successful in creating asthma-friendly schools and reducing healthcare disparities despite the challenging times brought about by COVID-19. Jessie Trice provides telehealth services and access to high-quality behavioral health and primary care services on-site at schools to improve the welfare of both students and their families.
Click Here for still images from this year’s event.
Click here for video biographies of each honoree.
To learn more about each award category, visit www.TheChildrensTrust.org/Champions.
Chief Public Policy & Community Engagement Officer, The Children’s Trust