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Local Journalists, Advocates, Public Official, Others Honored at Annual TCCY Gathering

Friday, March 15, 2019 | 04:21pm

For Immediate Release                                        CONTACT: Richard Kennedy
                                                                                   OFFICE: 615-741-2633
                                                                                    EMAIL: Richard.Kennedy@tn.gov

As child advocates gathered in Nashville at the 31st annual Children’s Advocacy Days to network, learn from leaders and share their unique knowledge of ways the state can improve child well-being with policymakers, they also honored those who have contributed to a better state for its children.

Gov. Bill Lee and first lady Maria Lee welcomed participants to War Memorial Auditorium for the event, and commissioners of state departments serving children, including those newly appointed, updated listeners. Julie Sweetland of the FrameWorks Institute and Hugh Vasquez of the National Equity Project were keynote speakers. A fast-paced program shared information on a range of relevant issues. Awards were presented to the following:

A.C. Wharton, former mayor of Memphis and of Shelby County, was given the Senator Douglas Henry Public Official Award for his efforts on behalf of child safety and violence prevention.

Debbie Miller, Deputy Commissioner for Juvenile Justice of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services received the second annual Linda O’Neal Lifetime Achievement Award.

Twelve-year-old former foster child Aiden Lee Reece, of Gainesboro, Tenn., received the Youth Excellence Award for his work to help fund wells in India.

Kristen Rector, CEO of Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee, was recognized with the Jim Pryor Child Advocacy Award.

Two journalists working in local journalism to share information on efforts to solve community problems were honored. Larry Bowers, general news reporter for the Cleveland Daily Banner, Cleveland, Tenn., received a John Seigenthaler MAKING KIDS COUNT Media Small Market Print Media Award for his 57 years of journalism and coverage of local communities.

Lynette Wagster, general manager of the Weakley County Press, and her staff were also honored with a John Seigenthaler MAKING KIDS COUNT Media Small Market Print Media Award.

Our Kids Center received a John Seigenthaler MAKING KIDS COUNT New Media Award for its video and social media campaign, “What if I told you?”

Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee honored Unsung Heroes at the event. Recognized were Wanda Newland of East Tennessee, Michelle Williams of Middle Tennessee, and Ethel Johnson of West Tennessee.

The Tennessee Department of Education made a special recognition of Jan Bushing for her advocacy and support for Family Resource Centers.

The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth is an independent agency created by the Tennessee General Assembly. Its primary mission is to advocate for improvements in the quality of life for Tennessee children and families. Information on the agency is available at www.tn.gov/tccy.

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Pictures and more information on the TCCY awards and winners and graphics are available from fay.delk@tn.gov.