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Advocates, Media Honored by Commission on Children and Youth

March 11, 2008

Nashville –– A retired professor, a mentor and representatives from television and newspapers were honored for efforts contributing to improved child well-being in Tennessee.

The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth awarded the Jim Pryor Child Advocacy Award to Betty Rasberry, a retired social work professor from the University of Tennessee at Martin, and the Youth Excellence Award to John Little III, lead recruiter for the Governor’s Mentoring Initiative.

Rasberry was honored for her career-long dedication to child and family advocacy, including beginning her university’s social work program and chairing it from its inception in 1973 until her retirement. She continues to serve in local and state leadership roles.

Little’s gang-related expulsion for bringing a gun to Nashville’s Stratford High School could have been the first step toward a life of destruction, disability and early death, but he made a choice to work toward a better future. He also remembered others facing the same challenges he did and soon began to mentor. It is because of this willingness to overcome obstacles and give back to the community that Little received the Youth Excellence Award.

The print media Making KIDS COUNT Awards  were given to staff of The Daily Times of Maryville and The Commercial Appeal. Staff from two television stations, WSMV-Channel 4, Nashville, and WPTY-Clear Channel TV-24, received the broadcast awards this year.

The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal’s editor, Chris Peck, wrote, “One of the reasons newspapers exist is to focus attention on important, community-changing issues. Infant mortality, with all the factors that lead to it, represents one of those key issues for us.” The paper wins this award for bringing the community together on the issue and focusing on solutions.

Kara Covington and Larry Aldridge of The (Maryville) Daily Times were honored for their professionalism and compassion. Commission member Trudy Hughes, who made the nomination, said, “Kara genuinely cares about issues affecting our community and uses her media opportunities to educate, enlighten and empower our community for action.”

WSMV news reporters Jeremy Finley and Aaron Solomon were honored with a broadcast media “Making KIDS COUNT Award,” for helping their viewers understand issues. Finley’s year-long series, “The Young and the Lawless, focused on the juvenile justice problems, causes and solutions; Solomon’s “Cool Schools,” series focuses on children who are engaged in educational, athletic, music and other activities that prepare them to be productive citizens.

Clear Channel’s Memphis television station, WPTY (Channel 24), was honored for its “Child Care Report Card,” which informs parents of the ratings of area child care programs, giving them the information they need to chose quality child care.

These award are presented annually by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth’s at its Children’s Advocacy Days. The Commission is an independent agency created in 1955 by the Tennessee General Assembly. Its primary mission is to advocate for improvements in the quality of life for Tennessee children and families.

For more information on the Commission, the awards and the winners, please call (800) 264-0904 or access the agency’s website at www.tennessee.gov/tccy.