The 2023 Champion for Children award recipients were announced during LACASA’s Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Council’s “Plant a Pinwheel Celebration” at the Howell Carnegie Library on Wednesday.
The Champion for Children award is a joint effort between the CAP Council and Great Start Livingston to recognize outstanding individuals who devote significant time and energy to helping children in Livingston County.
This year the CAP Council and Great Start Livingston presented two Champion for Children awards. Nicole and Clyde Aikens received the award in appreciation for the life-changing impact they have had on the children in their care. In addition, Carla Sharp was recognized for her impact over many years as she helped children and families embrace early literacy, access quality care, and build foundational relationships.
“The nominations we received for the Champion for Children award this year were so inspiring,” said Holly Naylor, LACASA’s Director of Family Prevention and Education.
“This award is about recognizing ordinary people doing extraordinary work for children in our community. The winners this year are examples of two very different but incredibly important ways to do that— by building life-changing, long-term relationships with individual children, and by working to create and grow programs that help hundreds of children and families throughout the community,” Naylor said. “The selection committee decided that both of these ways of supporting kids deserved to be honored.”
Nicole and Clyde Aikens have welcomed five foster children into their home, all of whom have experienced trauma, abuse and neglect. Since joining the Aikens family, however, the children’s lives have included not just security and safety but also many of the positive, happy experiences that all children want to have including activities like camping, trick-or-treating, visiting water parks, and even simply having friends over to visit. Nicole and Clyde are fierce advocates for what the children need and offer them unconditional love, allowing them all to achieve personal goals and finally experience what it is like to truly be part of a family.
Carla Sharp has been serving the children and families of Brighton and Livingston County for decades. As the Head of the Brighton District Library’s Youth Services, Sharp implemented early literacy programs not just within the Brighton Library, but also through collaborative efforts with local schools, agencies, organizations, and businesses such as Great Start Livingston, the Livingston County Health Department, Pregnancy Help Clinic, and Michigan State University Extension. Additionally, Sharp established the Livingston Early Literacy Collaborative to promote early literacy for families with young children; partnered with other libraries to implement a Preschool Open House so that families could learn about local child care programs; and served on the board of Livingston Promise, a non-profit organization that provided scholarships to help families access high-quality child care.
“Our 2023 Champion for Children award winners show us that every person in Livingston County can have a positive impact on children. There is no single right way to do so,” Naylor said.
For questions about CAP or any of its programs, contact Holly Naylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 517-548-1350.
CHAMPION FOR CHILDREN AWARD RECIPIENTS: (From left) Clyde & Nicole Aikens and Carla Sharp. ~ Photo by Richard Lim