Carly Stout, Editor
The Ashland Beacon
The ninth annual North Eastern Service Region Superhero for Our Children Awards were recently held to acknowledge the month of April as National Child Abuse Prevention month.
“Each year we award five awards for various community partners for their dedication and commitment for serving children and families in our communities,” said Brandy Brown, on behalf of the North Eastern Service Region Superhero for Our Children Awards. “This year the winner for the overall Individual Superhero for our Children is Ashland's own Jeremy Holbrook.”
Holbrook said he was humbled and honored to accept the award.
“Honestly, to even have been mentioned in the same conversation with the others who have focused their lives, missions, and purpose to promote healthy growth for children in our state is absolutely an award in itself,” said Holbrook. “I do not think that anyone who is an advocate for children ever sets out to win prizes or awards, because it’s more of a calling than a career; but to be recognized for the efforts has truly been a humble blessing, which I am so honored to have.”
Members of the community as well as the planning committee met on March 29 at the Ashland Riverfront to present Holbrook with his award plaque and recognize his efforts within this community.
“I’m a huge fan of The Child Abuse Prevention team and conference they host,” said Holbrook. “These are the people who continually invest into our social workers, child-care workers, community-based services, youth service centers, and family resource centers.”
Holbrook is the Executive Director of The Big Idea Camp, who stepped up in a big way after COVID-19. While most families were impacted in some way by COVID-19, many parents struggled with virtual learning and NTI and being the sole facilitator of their children’s education while working during a pandemic.
“I found, for myself, as a parent of a third grader, that I had forgotten the basic steps of long division because I always carry a cell phone in my pocket for math that requires more than my fingers can handle. If I was uneasy, I’m sure others were too,” said Holbrook. “So I came up with the Home-work Helpers program for The Big Idea Camp that became a weekly livestream on social media where children, students, and families could submit the assignments, problems, and questions from their non-traditional-learning school assignments. We had an incredible group of volunteer teachers who agreed to communicate back with the students on how to do those problems. Sometimes we even went over the work live in the program to help parents better understand how to show their children the best methods. It seemed to reach a lot of families. At one point, I was getting emails from families in Colorado who somehow found the program and they needed help with their work, too.”
Holbrook said that the last 13 months with The Big Idea Camp have been “unique.”
“With the schools closed and social distancing, we weren’t able to do live monthly assemblies at schools; but we found that producing weekly lesson videos were the best way to stay consistent,” said Holbrook. “Most counselors downloaded our videos and sent it as a part of their Google Classroom time with students over the past year.”
The Big Idea Camp has also launched the monthly “Not Alone Project.” This is student-led by Dalton Hale, a junior at Boyd County High School, on suicide prevention and mental health positivity aimed at junior high and high school students.
“To be honest, I do not think our greatest strength was helping with homework, as much as it was providing a consistent voice of influence and encouragement into the lives of children and adults who care for the children,” said Holbrook. “I know students missed their friends, their teachers, their counselors and principals; and most schools were incredible with their constant communication. But we all know how important mental health is for our children, so it was important for us to be on the front end of things, providing consistent encouragement; we wanted kids to know we’d be there every week.”
Holbrook is also known for his advocacy within the foster care and adoption community.
“This is a very deep and yet very simple issue for my heart,” said Holbrook. “Every child has a story. And every story matters. Every child deserves the opportunity to know that they are loved and have the capacity to love others. I do not know all of the stories or reasons why children are in foster care or in need of adoption; but I do believe that it’s never their fault for being in that position. We are all just a few mistakes away from a much different life than the one we’re blessed with now.”
Holbrook said he is grateful for the support from the community and urges those who wish to get more involved with child advocacy to take the time to start with their own children. Getting engaged in your child’s mental health, mindset, and their emotions is a powerful way to be an advocate.
“You don’t need an award to be a hero,” said Holbrook. “The most effective people on this planet go without recognition all the time. Just be fearlessly authentic with your love for your children, and I assure you that you are, indeed, a hero, everyday; and I am so ultimately proud of every adult who takes the time to let their children know that they are loved and have the capacity to love others. You are absolutely changing this world for the better.”
The North Eastern Service Region Superhero for Our Children Awards Conference will be held virtually from April 19 to April 23 at www.beheroes2021.com. The group also cited that there is a Facebook page for the conference located at Child Abuse Prevention: Be Heroes in the Stories of Our Children.