NEW YORK – Sept. 24, 2015 – Six extraordinary individuals who have dramatically improved the lives of children around the world will be honored in New York City on November 5 by World of Children® Award (worldofchildren.org/2015honorees). Hailed by the media as the “Nobel Prize for Child Advocates,” the annual Award honors the most effective changemakers for vulnerable children worldwide and funds and elevates their work.
Each of the 2015 Honorees has created life-changing programs that benefit children in countries around the world. They are working on a wide range of issues, including homelessness, teen pregnancy, and life-threatening medical issues. This year, the first-ever Education Award will be presented. The World of Children includes a minimum cash grant of $50,000.
World of Children is led by Co-Founders Harry Leibowitz and Kay Isaacson-Leibowitz, retired senior executives from Procter & Gamble and Victoria’s Secret respectively. Since they founded the organization in 1998, with the goal of setting the gold standard in child advocacy award programs, World of Children has granted more than $7 million in cash grants and program support to more than 100 Honorees who are the driving force behind programs that have served tens of millions of children worldwide.
“It is, indeed, humbling to be in the same room with all of these people who have given up so much of themselves to tackle some of the most difficult and challenging issues facing children today,” said Harry Leibowitz. “We look forward to helping these heroes continue their missions.”
World of Children uses a uniquely rigorous vetting process to identify the world’s most effective changemakers for children. This year, World of Children received hundreds of nominations from 95 countries around the world. A program team considers every nominee, and passes their first-round selections to a National Selection Committee, a Youth Award Review Committee and an International Advisory Committee to select finalists. A private agency then performs an on-site investigation and independent audit of each final applicant. These investigators make sure Awards go only to the most impactful child advocates.
At this year’s Awards Ceremony, World of Children will present Miriam Mason-Sesay with the first ever World of Children Education Award. Asked about the decision to add an Education Award to the program, Leibowitz shared that the Board of Governors recognizes education as a key component of elevating young people out of poverty, out of trouble, out of dependency, and on to a better life. He pointed out that 60 million children worldwide do not receive even basic education and that, in view of the magnitude of the issue and the large number of education-related nominations the organization receives each year, it was vital to establish an education award category.
The 2015 World of Childrens Ceremony will take place on Thursday, November 5, at 583 Park Avenue in New York City. (worldofchildren.org/awardsceremony)
Introducing the 2015 World of Children Honorees:
2015 World of Children Education Award
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Co-Founder and Country Director, EducAid Sierra Leone
Miriam Mason-Sesay and her co-founders established EducAid Sierra Leone in 1995 as a scholarship program. Two years later, when Miriam visited the country to see the students’ progress, she realized the hardships facing students extended far beyond an inability to pay school fees. As a teacher herself, Miriam saw the need for higher quality schools and better-equipped and trained teachers if children were ever going to be able to fully establish personal, social and economic wellbeing. In 2000, she moved to Sierra Leone to establish EducAid’s first school. Since then, she has devoted her life to serving orphans and vulnerable children, including many former child soldiers and victims of the country’s brutal civil war. During her 15 years in Sierra Leone, Miriam has surmounted myriad challenges associated with effecting change in a war-ravaged country. Most recently she faced, perhaps, her biggest challenge with the outbreak of Ebola in Sierra Leone in 2014. Despite the danger facing everyone in the country, Miriam chose to stay and continue her work, keeping her promise to students that their education would continue.
2015 World of Children Youth Award:
Winnifred Selby, Age 20
Founder, EPF Educational Empowerment Initiative
Co-Founder, Ghana Bamboo Bikes
In 2010, Winnifred Selby visited the Northern region of her native Ghana and encountered children who faced incredible obstacles to pursuing their education. She saw children who walked barefoot several miles to school, exposing their feet daily to injury and soil-transmitted diseases. She learned about the horrible lengths some girls had to go to procure sanitary pads and the health risks they faced by using improvised supplies. Moved to help these children meet their basic needs, she founded EPF Educational Empowerment Initiative to empower young people from deprived communities by breaking down barriers to education. The three main projects of the initiative focus on decreasing menstruation-related absentee days for secondary school girls by providing them with feminine hygiene products; providing shoes for students who must walk long distances over rough terrain to reach their schools; and connecting young Ghanaian women to scholarships that enable them to continue their education. Winnifred is also a successful social entrepreneur. At the age of 15, Winnifred co-founded Ghana Bamboo Bikes, a socio-ecological green initiative that employs and trains youth in building high quality handcrafted bamboo bikes. Ghana Bamboo Bikes directs 15% of profits to funding EPF Educational Empowerment Initiative projects.
2015 World of Children Youth Award
Nicholas Lowinger, Age 17
Rhode Island, United States
Founder and Creator, Gotta Have Sole Foundation
Nicholas Lowinger began volunteering at a local homeless shelter with his mother at the age of 5 years old. Working with homeless youth, he recognized that something as simple as shoes can make the difference between a child attending or not attending school, between feeling self-confident or ashamed, and even between being accepted by peers or ostracized at school. To help, he founded Gotta Have Sole Foundation in 2010. The Foundation has donated new footwear to over 42,000 children living in homeless shelters in 36 states. Nicholas has expanded his efforts to involve peers in collecting and donating footwear. The Gotta Have Sole student clubs raise awareness of the problems facing homeless youth and provide young people with an opportunity to support and empower their homeless peers.
2015 World of Children Health Award
Amalia García Moreno
Mexico City, Mexico
Founder, Casa de la Amistad para Niños con Cáncer
When one of her children was diagnosed with cancer, Amalia García Moreno became intimately aware of the hardships faced by cancer patients and their families. Though she had the economic means to give her son the best treatment available, Amalia recognized that not all families had the same ability to access these kinds of resources. Amalia established Casa de la Amistad para Niños con Cáncer in 1990 to provide access to oncological treatment and support to low-income children diagnosed with cancer, with the goal of increasing the childhood cancer survival rate in Mexico. Initially, the organization was dedicated solely to providing a space for children and their families to stay when they traveled to the city for cancer treatment. Now in its 25th year, the organization has served over 7,800 children and has expanded its programming. It still provides accommodations for children and their families and now also provides emotional support classes, educational programs, and medicine banks that help patients access antibiotics, food supplements, or other medication prescribed by their doctors.
2015 World of Children Humanitarian Award
Founder and President, Juan Felipe Gómez Escobar Foundation
In 2000, two tragic events changed Catalina Escobar’s life – the death of her 16-month-old son, who fell from an eighth story window and died and the death of another child, a 12-day-old baby who passed away in her arms while she was volunteering at a neonatal clinic. The second child died because the baby’s mother, a teenager herself, had not been able to afford the $30 medical treatment her child needed. Reeling with grief and determined that no mother should lose a child for want of money for medical care, Catalina quit her job in the private sector and dedicated her life to launching and planning a social initiative, which became the Juan Felipe Gómez Escobar Foundation, named after her son. Through the Foundation, Catalina works with teenage mothers and their children to provide them with the tools they need to survive and to thrive. Teenage mothers receive education, psychosocial intervention, healthcare and vocational skills training. The Foundation has served more than 2,800 teenaged mothers and teenage pregnancy rates in Cartagena have decreased by 50%. Their work has helped reduce the infant mortality rate by 80% in Cartagena.
2015 Alumni Award: Adi Roche
Founder, Chernobyl Children International
Providing Hope and Life-saving Care to the Children of Chernobyl
Five years after the devastating 1986 Chernobyl disaster, Adi Roche was volunteering with a nuclear disarmament group when they received a desperate fax from Belarusian and Ukrainian doctors working in the impacted area. “SOS appeal. For God’s sake, help us to get the children out.” Galvanized by that haunting plea, Adi has dedicated the last 24 years to the forgotten children of the Chernobyl region. In 1991, she established Chernobyl Children International (CCI), which works tirelessly to provide care and offer hope to the thousands of children in the Chernobyl region that continue to be born with disabilities like Chernobyl Heart. CCI arranges for doctors perform life-saving surgeries for child victims and flies some of them to Ireland for post-surgery treatment and recovery. Since 2010, when Adi received the World of Children Health Award, Chernobyl Children International has saved the lives of 1,200 children born with congenital heart defects. In total, the organization has provided 25,000 children with desperately needed medical care. We honor her again this year for the incredible impact she continues to have in the lives of the children of the Chernobyl region.
ABOUT WORLD OF CHILDREN AWARD
World of Children® Award improves the lives of vulnerable children by funding and elevating the most effective changemakers for children worldwide.
Since 1998, World of Children has granted more than $7 million in cash grants and program support to more than 100 humanitarian leaders who are the driving force behind programs serving children worldwide. The organization’s exhaustive research and vetting of individuals has been hailed by leading philanthropic organizations. The media often refers to World of Children as the Nobel Prize for child advocacy.
World of Children has been featured in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, People, Town & Country, and Harper’s Bazaar. World of Children Honorees have also been featured by The New York Times, CNN, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Fast Company Magazine, People, Glamour, TEEN Vogue, TIME for Kids, USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor, among several other national and international media.
Most recently, The Huffington Post named World of Children’s Co-Founders, Harry Leibowitz and Kay Isaacson-Leibowitz, one of the United States’ most inspiring “power couples” for their lifetime commitment to improving the lives of vulnerable children around the world.