Joe Dorman, Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Anne Roberts People’s Choice Award is named for OICA’s longest-serving executive director. As the name suggests, these awards come from the nominations and votes of child advocates.
We had some tremendous nominations this year, and I wanted to share with you the finalists and encourage you to vote before 5 p.m. on Friday, July 30. Go to oica.org to vote.
Individuals serving as finalists this year are listed below, and you can see for yourself the glowing remarks from their nominations.
Carolynn MacAllister helped start the Saville Center for Child Advocacy, introduced the Potts Family Foundation to the Resilience Documentary (which has led to statewide screenings of more than 15,000 Oklahomans) and started the Resilient Payne County Coalition.
Christina Kastl is a board member for the Licensed Child Care Association of Oklahoma helps educate others on child safety and best practices for educating children.
Taylar Smith works with Foster Care and Adoption Recruitment through Oklahoma Human Services in Cotton, Jefferson, and Stephens Counties. She commits herself to being an advocate for children and is involved in many events, fundraising, and projects for foster children in Oklahoma.
Melissa Ahlgrim works as the Director of Reading Sufficiency at the Oklahoma State Department of Education. She sits on different boards and assists different groups that help parents/guardians, schools, educators, school administration to “positively” improve a child’s education.
Cheri Fuller founded the OK Messages ten years ago in Oklahoma, a literacy and prevention program that works in twelve prisons throughout the state to film parents reading to their kids, which now serves children in 73 of 77 counties in Oklahoma.
Julie Lackey founded LeadLearnLive, a nonprofit that ensures Oklahoma programs are modeled after top similar organizations in the country that result in life-changing outcomes in independent living and employment and works to ensure that all children in Oklahoma have the option to attend college regardless of disability.
Organizations serving as finalists are:
The Care Center, organized in 1991, is Oklahoma County’s only child advocacy center and is committed to helping children find their voice and begin to heal after abuse as well as preventing child abuse through education.
SoonerStart is Oklahoma’s early intervention program. It is designed to meet the needs of families with infants or toddlers with developmental delays and/or disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Oklahoma Interviewing Services (OIS) provides statewide services for victims of and witnesses to child abuse and other crimes with a sensitive, compassionate response through skilled interviewing, referral to helping agencies, community outreach, and professional education. It is a unique organization in that it provides bilingual forensic interviewing services through the use of a mobile unit.
Licensed Child Care Association of Oklahoma (LCCAOK) works to educate elected officials and policymakers on the important role that licensed child care businesses play in the economic development of Oklahoma, as well as providing quality early learning opportunities for Oklahoma’s youngest citizens and their families.
The Arc of Oklahoma is committed to ensuring a high quality of life for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families through education, empowerment, support, and advocacy. Through their work, they envision a world in which these individuals have a right to make their own choices and their voices are reflected in all decisions affecting their lives.
Little Read Wagon constantly provides new and gently used books to children in the greater Norman/Oklahoma City area. They set up at community aid fairs, donate to homeless shelters, and even hide books in parks for kids to discover. They allow children to choose their own new and used books from their book wagon, providing story time, planning and providing literacy activities, reading aloud to adults, and filling book requests.
For more information about the Heroes Ball, to learn more about and vote for an individual or an organization for a People’s Choice award, or to find out how you can help OICA continue its mission of fighting for Oklahoma’s children, go to the website at www.oica.org or call 405-236-KIDS (5437).
About OICA: The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was established in 1983 by a group of citizens seeking to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk. Our mission statement: “Creating awareness, taking action, and changing policy to improve the health, safety, and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.”