Coming on the heels of the recently-unveiled MacArthur Genius Awards and Nobel Prize Award winners, the World of Children Awards has just announced its 2010 World of Children Award recipients -- six remarkable individuals whose extraordinary work on behalf of the world's most vulnerable children is an inspiring reminder of the vast power that one individual has to change the lives of many:
- Adi Roche, who founded Chernobyl Children International (CCI) in Belarus, Ukraine and Western Russia to serve the forgotten children of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and the thousands of children in the Chernobyl regions who continue to be born with disabilities and congenital deformities like Chernobyl Heart. Through CCI, more than 20,000 children have received intensive medical care and the chance for a healthy life.
- Leonor Portela, who founded Misioneros Del Camino to care for the orphaned, abandoned, and malnourished children of Guatemala. In the last 24 years, Leonor has rescued children from the streets and from garbage dumps, saved the "throw away children" brought to her by the Guatemalan police and provided tens of thousands of orphans with housing, education and medical care.
- Jourdan Urbach, a violin virtuoso who discovered when he was performing in hospitals at 7 years old that music could stimulate the brain and spark healing in children with neurological problems. At age 9 he founded Children Helping Children and began headlining with symphony orchestras to perform benefit Concerts for a Cure at major concert halls across the country to raise money for children needing neurosurgical and neurological care and has since raised millions for neurological research and pediatric hospital programs.
- Danielle Gram, who at age 16 founded Kids for Peace, a nonprofit organization that provides opportunities for children of all ages and backgrounds to learn about other cultures and be service-oriented leaders, peace builders and environmental activists in their communities. Kids for Peace has grown to more than 75 chapters worldwide -- positively impacting children's lives throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia -- and empowering even the most disadvantaged children to cultivate peace for themselves, their families and their communities.
- Dan Marino and Claire Merino, who have made extraordinary efforts to improve children's health through the Dan Marino Foundation, which supports medical research, treatment, and outreach programs for autistic children and children with developmental disabilities. Since its founding in 1992, the Foundation has raised over $22 million dollars to provide programs and services that have benefited hundreds of thousands of children and their families.
As an Ambassador for the World of Children Awards, I'm especially proud to congratulate them and deeply humbled by their efforts and dedication to devote their time and talent to benefit children in need.
I look forward to meeting them in person when they are honored at the World of Children Awards ceremony in New York City and I encourage those who can't meet them personally to learn more about them at www.worldofchildren.org and consider how you might support their efforts or let their examples inspire you to affect change.