Coconino Coalition for Children & Youth honors 2019 Caring for Children award winners at annual conference

| April 22, 2019
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By the Coconino Coalition for Children & Youth

FLAGSTAFF — They include a policy leader who has advocated for early and developmentally disabled childhood education programs throughout Coconino County; an individual who has served nearly three decades strengthening and keeping families together in Northern Arizona; and a community leader whose efforts have provided a variety of afterschool, weekend and summer programs in Page.

The Coconino Coalition for Children and Youth (CCC&Y) congratulates the 2019 Caring for Children Award recipients, who were honored at 2019 Child Abuse Prevention Conference and Luncheon — “Healing Collective Trauma through Community Connections” — April 18 in Flagstaff.

The full day of activities also included an energizing opening keynote address by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, founder and director of The Trauma Stewardship Institute; a keynote luncheon presentation by Dr. Pearl Yellowman, executive director of the Navajo Nation Department of Community Development; and workshops on the Neurosequential Model in Caregiving, a training program to help better understand the unique, sometimes challenging needs of the children who have experienced the trauma of abuse and neglect; a look at the influence of poverty, culture and trauma on the behavior and health disparities of American Indian Youth; and an examination of the differences between new parent-stress and post-partum depression.

The highlight of the event was the presentation of the “2019 Caring for Children Awards.” In the words of those who nominated them, the honorees included:

  • Elizabeth “Liz” Archuleta has served on a number of boards and commissions dealing with early childhood education and specifically developmentally disabled children. As a policy leader in this arena, she advocates and creates programming and policies that strive to make sure all children have access to and the support of successful programs. She is the founder of the Hungry Children Backpack Program and wrote the grant for the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association’s Weed and Seed program that addresses alternatives to youth gang activity.
  • Dani O’Connell has served in a variety of positions at the Arizona Department of Child Safety, from case manager to her current position of training the next generation of DCS workers at NAU. In her nearly three decades of work in Flagstaff, she has aided youth by appearing in court as an expert witness on the local and state level; has supported hundreds of children and families in need, including multi-generational members of those families; and served as the DCS court liaison statewide to ensure the judicial system provides parents and children with due process to keep children safe.
  • Joe Gutierrez, who was born and raised in Flagstaff, is a graduate of NAU. After gaining K-12 teaching and administrative experience in Mesa, he returned to Flagstaff to serve as principal at W.F. Killip Elementary School, making the school available for a number of programs that benefit children and families throughout the community. Those programs include the Saturday breakfast and youth sports. He has served on the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association, helping to research, write and develop the Weed and Seed grant provided by the U.S. Dept. of Justice.
  • Shawni Parafiniuk is the longest-serving youth shelter advocate at Northland Family Help Center, where she helps youth form a positive daily routine, helps de-escalate crisis situations, and teaches youth such life skills as cooking, cleaning, communications and self-advocacy. She previously taught art at the Flagstaff Leadership Academy (FALA), and is known for directing art groups and programs with the youth shelter residents. She provides the youth at Northland Family Help Center’s Youth Shelter with a positive, caring presence with expectations that our youth treat themselves and others with respect and dignity. Our youth’s affinity for Shawni’s presence and structure is a testament to  her ability to reach youth and form positive connections while providing a safe and structured environment, a most critical process for youth that have experienced trauma.
  • Jose Soto, who has been coaching youth soccer for 21 years, currently coaches four different boys teams for the Flagstaff Soccer Club. He has gone beyond the typical duties of coaching to developing his players’ self-esteem, leadership, teamwork and organizational skills through his mentorship. He has made soccer a safe place for these players, working with the youths and their families to keep the players away from alcohol, drug and gang activity.
  • Debbie Winlock has sought to expand a variety of educational and recreational programs for youth in Page. While the city has become a tourist destination, there were very few activities for youth and children outside of the schools. Under her leadership, the Page Public Library has become a focal point of activities after school, on weekends and during the summer. Those efforts include storytime at both the library and on-site at stores, businesses and the local nursing home, and bringing early literacy and math talk workshops to the library. She has also served on the local First Things First regional council, introduced the Teen After Hours program at the library and started the Books for Families program that provides local businesses with reading material for the children of their clients.

About the Coconino Coalition for Children & Youth: The Coconino Coalition for Children and Youth exists to provide leadership in developing community-wide strategies that enhance the well-being of children and youth in Coconino County.

For more than 40 years, CCC&Y has acted as the countywide communication link, bridging and supporting services for children and youth. Through advocacy, prevention, education and community partnership building, CCC&Y has built a strong, extensive network of families, providers, leaders and communities all striving to improve the lives of young people.

Proceeds from this year’s Annual Child Abuse Prevention Fundraiser and Caring for Children Awards will support CCC&Y’s prevention, community education and child advocacy efforts throughout the year.

Send an email to virginia@coconinokids.org for more information.

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Category: Advocacy, Child Welfare, Events, Programs

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