For the past 14 years The Children’s Trust and hundreds of people of all ages from all over the county have come together to celebrate at Jungle Island the unparalleled achievements of local individuals.
On Thursday, June 13, a judge, a chef, a doctor, a singer, a social worker all shared the stage to be honored for the work they do on the ground every day to improve the lives of Miami-Dade County’s children and families. They are the Champions for Children.
“This year marks the 14th anniversary of our annual Champions for Children event, where we recognize selfless and motivated individuals and programs that have achieved greatness in their service to children and families in our community” said James R. Haj, president and CEO of The Children’s Trust. “It’s an honor to recognize efforts that serve as an inspiration to others.”
These local trailblazers were selected for their inspiration and their immeasurable community impact.
The 2019 Champions for Children are:
Judge Jeri Beth Cohen, Dependency Court judge, who received David Lawrence Jr. Champion for Children Award for having the vision, and exercising wisdom, optimism, creativity and determination to provide holistic and comprehensive therapeutic services for families affected by substance abuse.
Judge Cohen brought together child welfare, substance abuse treatment, housing agencies and University of Miami researchers to collaborate in the development of the Dependency Drug Court, a family treatment court with a goal to help parents overcome addiction and to keep families together.
Michelle Forman, Guitars Over Guns/mentor and a capella group leader is the recipient of the Excellence in Direct Service to Children and Families Award. For the past 10 years, she has directed a vocal program at two middle schools and founded and directs Guitars over Guns’ A Capella Ensemble, which is comprised of alumni of the middle school vocal program and young singers currently participating in the middle school program.
Centro Mater’s After-School & Summer Program, Easterseals’s Culinary Arts High School, and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital’s School Health Services have been recognized as 2019 Programs of the Year.
“It’s critical to hold up as shining examples the individuals and organizations we should all emulate in building a community and culture that puts its children first,” Haj said. “We try to live by that every day at The Trust, but many others in the community are unaware of our award recipients’ extraordinary achievements, achievements that are routinely changing the lives of children and families who often struggle in very challenging environments.”