OCIA’s Fall Forum Concludes, Award Winners Named

Joe Dorman, Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy:

Each year, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA), the statewide voice for Oklahoma’s children in shaping better policies through our governmental systems, holds an annual conference to discuss those issues on the forefront of greatest need.
This year, our 2020 Fall Forum convened to more than 200 advocates across the state. Just like everyone else, we had to hold our meetings in a safe, socially distant manner. Our outstanding presenters and participants logged on to the Zoom for the sharing of insight and ideas.

In addition to the learning and dialogue that occurs, OICA also presents several awards to deserving advocates who are doing what they can to help improve the lives of Oklahomans. The awards we present at Fall Forum are the Laura Choate Resilience Award, the Steven A. Novick Child Advocacy Award, and the Jasmine and Melvin Moran Kidizenship Award.

The winner of the Laura Choate Resilience Award is an Oklahoman who overcomes trauma and adversity in their younger days to become a solid advocate helping others. OICA is pleased to announce the 2020 winner of this award is David Hall. David is a former foster youth who is a teacher and serves as an advocate for better policies for the foster care system in Oklahoma. David also has been tapped to work at the national level, having worked with an advisory committee established by First Lady Melania Trump. Congratulations to David!

The Steven A. Novick Award goes to an unsung hero in child advocacy. This year, from all the nominations, the committee was divided between two outstanding public servants. They decided to have co-winners this year.

The first to receive the 2020 award is Katy Maxwell, a Court Appointed Special Advocate in Oklahoma County who has traveled around the state comforting children in the court system and assisting DHS workers who are overwhelmed in their work.

The second co-winner is Kathryn Brewer from the District Attorneys Council of Oklahoma. She was selected to receive this award this year for her work when she was Advocate General at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and her work to ensure children receive justice in the legal system.

Both winners truly are heroes working within the systems they represent and do tremendous work to help those youth in need.

Our “Kidizenship” winners this year have two runners up and one winner for children working to make things better for their fellow Oklahomans. Each will receive a donation from OICA for their project.

OICA congratulates Elizabeth Fry for her effort in her community to provide money for the homeless, work in the local animal shelter, and for the determination to provide gift bags to residents of a nursing home last year. Additionally, OICA congratulates Dani McTague for founding “Dani’s Dream – 
Sharing the Love of Art” as a program to help provide art supplies to young people in northeastern Oklahoma and Arkansas.

The “Kidizenship” Award winner is Jensyn Hood, a nine-year-old in Caddo County who has worked to provide blankets to foster youth through county DHS offices with her program called the Jensyn Project. Her goal this year, despite the pandemic, is to provide 1,000 blankets over four counties in her area.

If you can assist one or all these youth, please find their work on Facebook. OICA is grateful to all three of these outstanding young Oklahomans for their endeavors!