A Few Words on Awards

“Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.” –Abraham Lincoln

In a field full of people working passionately to empower youth to make positive decisions and a world where young parents are often maligned rather than praised for their tireless efforts to be wonderful parents, it’s sometimes easy to feel like these types of work often go unrecognized. Gestures of appreciation—large, small, and everywhere in between—are always an encouraging way to let someone know his or her efforts are valued and that he or she is absolutely worthy of recognition.

Healthy Teen Network’s annual award program was started years ago to recognize programs, groups, and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to promote the health and well-being of youth through their personal or professional efforts. Each year at our national conference, award presentations are always touching, and an opportunity when we collectively give a public high-five to those making a difference in the lives of others through their valuable work. The presentation of the Outstanding Teen Parent Award in particular almost always ends with nary a dry eye in the house, and Todaé Charles’ acceptance speech last year was no exception:


Later, Todaé told us, “Receiving the award completed a milestone of accomplishments for myself and my children. I serve, volunteer, and work to make a difference. I am and was honored to accept the award and know that the work is just beginning. However, I am seeing the fruits of my own labor.”

Hector Sánchez-Flores, recipient of the 2011 Carol Mendez Cassell Award for Excellence in Sexuality Education, called being bestowed with this award “a humbling experience.” “Dr. Cassell has contributed so much to field of positive sexual health education and being honored with this award reinvigorated my commitment to helping boys and girls create a positive vision for themselves and develop a healthy vision for who they ultimately wish to be,” he wrote. “Receiving the award for the collaborative work I have contributed has propelled me to think about how this work needs to be amplified to diverse and underserved groups of young people. I remain grateful to HTN for keeping this work alive for future generations.”

In 2010, BrdsNBz National Text Line System of the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina was recognized with the Outstanding Emerging Innovation Award. BrdsNBz staff member Kennon Jackson later said, “The award catapulted the BrdsNBz Text Message Warm Line forward and cemented what we already knew in North Carolina: adolescents need our service.”

Healthy Teen Network has just opened our call for award nominations for 2012!

Do you know a former teen father or mother who has achieved extraordinary personal and professional success? How about a sexuality educator who  exemplifies vision, innovation, and commitment to evidence-based sexuality education policy and programs? Know of a new and innovative program making a difference in the lives of teens and young families? Recognize their work with a nomination!  Know others doing great things to empower teens and young adults? A simple thank you also goes a long way.

-Kelly Connelly is the Marketing and Communications Manager at Healthy Teen Network.

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