Please upgrade your browser

2017 Children’s Champions Named

March 29th, 2017 | Posted in Uncategorized

Lisa Brooks Named as 2017 Children’s Champion

Diaper Bank Founders Leigh Robertson and Anna Lair

Receive Starfish Public Advocacy Award

At yesterday’s Smart Start Breakfast for Children’s Champions at the Hilton Riverside, Lisa Brooks was named as the 2017 Children’s Champion.  Smart Start also named Leigh Robertson and Anna Lair to receive a Starfish Public Advocacy Award for their work to found the Diaper Bank of the Lower Cape Fear.  Other honorees were Sonja Bull Green, Susan Henley, Ashley and Terry Mears, Nadine Nepper, and Donna Vaught who have provided exceptional service to young children, birth through age 5, and/or their families in New Hanover County.


Lisa Brooks


Ms. Brooks is a nationally certified child therapist and forensic interviewer at The Carousel Center in Wilmington. She spends her entire time at The Center facilitating child forensic interviews for children reported to have experienced sexual/physical abuse and/or neglect.  Her nominator states that Ms. Brooks is often called “The Child Whisperer” for her extraordinary skill to create a safe space for a child to share some of the most horrific experiences that a human can endure.  During this time, Ms. Brooks is tasked with helping these child survivors do the hard work of healing, so that they can get back to the business or just being children.

Because the primary language of young children is play, Ms. Brooks uses a great deal of play to help build connections, trust, and rapport. “In the playroom, children are able to weave rich stories and do deeper work because they are not expected to “talk” or respond conversationally”, says Ms. Brooks.

Ms. Brooks states that the joy she gets from this incredibly challenging work is watching the children master something in the playroom that used to be scary, or hard and hearing that they are sleeping through night and not having nightmares.  “Bearing witness to their healing and bravery gives me chills and tears every day”, says Ms. Brooks.


Anna Lair and Leigh Robertson


Anna and Leigh co-founded The Diaper Bank of NC Lower Cape Fear in February of 2014 due to a wide-spread need for local resources for families who struggled to provide one of the most basic needs for their child – diapers.  With diapers costing upward of $100 a month per child, many families are forced to choose between buying food and buying diapers for their child.   “The majority of the families we serve have one or more parents working and yet are unable to afford the diapers they need to keep their child clean, dry, and healthy”, says Anna.  At the most basic level, our primary area of focus is children’s health, both mentally and physically. The prolonged use of the same diaper can cause skin breakdown, infections, and pain for the child,” says Leigh.  Many households are forced to reuse diapers or keep their children in a dirty diaper for long periods of time.

The Diaper Bank is an all-volunteer organization. Anna and Leigh state that community partnerships have been the key to their success.  Their nominator states, “What is amazing is how the efforts of two passionate people can truly make a difference.”  Since opening its doors in 2014, The Diaper Bank has provided over 100,000 diapers and diapering supplies to 7 family-focused programs in four NC counties. Anna and Leigh site this as their greatest accomplishment.

The event also raised over $70,000 in sponsorships, gifts and pledges for the work of Smart Start of New Hanover County for its work to increase the capacity of the adults who work with young children in their first 2000 days of life – from parents to pediatricians and social workers to early educators. Please click here for WECT’s story on the event.