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CHEO announces Healthy Kids Awards winners

Ottawa, March 23, 2016 – It takes a village to raise a child, and CHEO’s annual Healthy Kids Awards recognize the role of our community in putting children on the path to lifelong health. Tonight’s six awards go to individuals and programs that are passionately dedicated to promoting healthy development of children and youth.

Once again, Funhaven Family Entertainment Centre is hosting the awards ceremony. Following the ceremony, there will be a special CTV live broadcast.

CHEO’s President and CEO, Alex Munter, will be joined by Madame Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Mayor Jim Watson and Erin Crowe, Chair of the CHEO Board of Trustees, to present the awards.

Mr. Munter praises the work of this year's winners: “Tonight we are honouring some truly amazing people and programs. These unique award winners have dedicated their time and energy to provide positive environments for children and youth to grow, thrive and be their healthiest. These people and their work reflect what makes our community so great.”

2016 Award Winners:

  • Gordon and Kathleen Stringer, Rowan’s Law
  • Monique Yashinskie, Robbie Dean Family Counselling Centre
  • Spanish Folk Dancing Troupe of Ottawa - Tanya and Susan Novo
  • Surad Youth Soccer Club - Abdirizak Mohamud
  • James Fleet, Physical Support Program at Sir Guy Carleton Secondary School
  • Morgan Joseph and Emma Sharkey, Headstrong club at St. Mark’s High School

See below for information on the awards and their winners.

CHEO established the CHEO Healthy Kids Awards in 2010 with the goal of promoting the well-being of children and youth. The hospital aims to empower families and community organizations to improve services, work together, and create a healthy environment for children and youth to realize their full potential.

CHEO is grateful to media partner CTV Ottawa for supporting the awards ceremony, and to Funhaven, and its executive director Dave Ellis, for their generous support and hosting of the event.

CHEO invites media to join the award winners and guests at Funhaven Family Entertainment Centre, 1050 Baxter Road, at 5:00 PM. The presentation of awards will begin promptly at 5:30 PM. Children and families will enjoy Funhaven’s climbing gym, laser tag, bumper cars and other games.

Please contact Eva Schacherl at 613-769-5553 for more information and to schedule interviews.

CHEO Healthy Kids Award Winners

Health Advocacy and Public Education Award

Awarded to an individual or organization that is raising awareness and providing public education on a key issue affecting the health of children and youth, or is influencing a change in public policy that will benefit youth and their families

Recipient: Gordon and Kathleen Stringer, Rowan’s Law

After an inquest into the death of their daughter, Rowan Stringer, Gordon and Kathleen Stringer have worked hard to win support for provincial legislation so that no other parent suffers this type of devastating and preventable death of their child.

Their bill, known as Rowan’s Law, will educate parents, coaches, teachers and students on the signs and symptoms of concussion, supply health providers with universal guidelines on when it is safe to return to school and play, as well as cover many of the 49 recommendations from the inquest into Rowan’s death.

Thanks to their dedication, Rowan’s Law passed its second reading and is one step closer to protecting young people from concussions.

Community Champion Award

Awarded to an individual who has proven to be an exceptional advocate of childhood mental and physical health

Recipient: Monique Yashinskie, Robbie Dean Family Counselling Centre

After losing her 18 year old son to suicide in 2011, Monique Yashinskie founded the Robbie Dean Family Counselling Centre to ensure other families would be able to find support where and when they needed it. The Centre’s primary program, its Suicide Prevention and Crisis Clinics for youth and families, have been operating since June 2013 and now have offices in Petawawa, Pembroke, Renfrew, Arnprior and Eganville.

Since its launch, the clinics have helped 368 youth and families. The Centre’s vision is for everyone in Renfrew County to have access to compassionate mental health support in a timely manner.

Community Program Award

Awarded to a corporate, non-profit or organizational program/initiative that promotes the healthy development of children and youth

Recipient: Spanish Folk Dancing Troupe of Ottawa (Tanya and Susan Novo)

Tanya and Susan Novo are two Ottawa-born sisters whose parents emigrated from Spain. Every Saturday these young women volunteer their time to teach traditional Spanish folk dancing to kids and youth ages 6 to 17 at the Nepean Creative Arts Centre. As part of the troupe, children have performed at events, including the Casino du Lac-Leamy’s Sound of Light fireworks show.

Dancing reinforces physical and mental health, builds confidence, and creates lasting connections and friendships. Through Tanya and Susan’s hard work, they have made Spanish Folk Dancing an affordable option for children and youth who otherwise may not have the opportunity.

Recipient: Surad Youth Soccer Club (Abdirizak Mohamud)

Surad Youth Soccer Club (SYSC) was founded by a small group of parents to promote and develop youth soccer in the Ottawa Somali community. Run by Abdirizak Mohamud, along with Ahmed Hassan and Said Arwo, SYSC is made up of 8 teams of boys and girls ages 6 to 17, providing them with the opportunity to play soccer in a safe and fun environment, all while encouraging inclusion, sportsmanship and tolerance.

Abdirizak invests his time and money to promote the physical and mental well-being of young Somali-Canadian children and youth. As a leader and mentor, he sets an example for how to successfully bridge cultures and different classes by creating an accepting social space for each child regardless of their socioeconomic background.

Help for Special Needs Award

Awarded to an individual, project or program that enriches the lives of children and youth who are developmentally delayed, physically disabled, medically challenged, technologically dependent or who require complex/palliative care

Recipient: James Fleet, Physical Support Program, Sir Guy Carleton Secondary School

James Fleet is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and volunteer with the Physical Support Program (PSP) at Sir Guy Carleton Secondary School. PSP is a program for students, ages 14-21 years, who have extensive physical disabilities. James, who is physically disabled and faces many of the same barriers as the students, joined the program to teach a Basic Obedience and Dog Psychology Course and has stayed on to regularly coach power wheelchair hockey.

James has had a tremendous impact on his students' lives. These youth face many barriers, and James has given them hope that with hard work, their dreams are possible. For students who thought that they would never be able to live alone or work a job, James is living proof that an independent and meaningful life is within their reach.

Youth for Youth Award

Awarded to initiatives or programs created by youth, for youth

Recipients: Morgan Joseph and Emma Sharkey, Headstrong, St. Mark’s High School

Morgan Joseph and Emma Sharkey are two students who advocated for and launched Headstrong, a mental health/wellness advocacy club at St. Mark's Catholic High School. Their club has grown to over 30 students who engage their peers in mental health promotion. This past November, the students launched Man Up For Mental Health to highlight the importance of male mental health.

This club takes action against stigma and promotes positive coping strategies and self-care. Through monthly initiatives, poster campaigns, and activities, they continue to engage their student body to learn about the importance of positive mental health and wellness.

2016 CHEO Healthy Kids Selection Committee

  • Manjit Basi – Citizens Academy
  • Judson Rasmussen – One Marketing
  • Mike Bulthuis – Alliance to End Homelessness
  • Barry Keegan – United Way Ottawa
  • Mohamud Hassan – City of Ottawa
  • Dawn Grakist – City of Ottawa
  • Frempon Bafi-Yeboa – City of Ottawa

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