Purpose Prize Winner Championing Children Named CNN Hero

Connie Siskowski

The cable news channel CNN recently named Purpose Prize winner Connie Siskowski one of its 2012 CNN Heroes – "everyday people changing the world."

CNN selected Siskowski for her compassionate and innovative work in helping youths care for aging, disabled or ill family members.

In her preteens, Siskowski experienced what it's like to take on adult responsibilities while caring for her ill grandfather. She had little or no time for friends or homework, and she dealt with the daily stress of managing the well-being of a sick family member on her own.

This memory propelled Siskowski into jobs in home health care, hospice and nursing. Eventually, her experience motivated her to support other youth caregivers, leading her to found the American Association of Caregiving Youth in 1998.

Feeling the need to do more, she created the Caregiving Youth Project in 2006. The project connects families with youth caregivers to needed resources, middle school support groups and life skills classes to ease some of the responsibilities that come with caring for an adult family member. In other words, the kids get opportunities to be kids.

"By strengthening the family and providing simple things like that, you can increase the independence of the person and reduce the workload on the child," explains Siskowski, whose organization has helped more than 500 young caregivers in Palm Beach County, Fla.

Siskowski won The Purpose Prize in 2009 for the extraordinary contribution she’s making in her encore career. Prize winners are people over 60 who are creating new ways to solve a range of social problems challenging our nation and our world.

Watch the video clip of CNN’s story about Connie Siskowski’s work here.