By RICK NORTON
State Rep. Kevin Brooks (R-Cleveland), who represents the 24th Legislative District, has been named “Legislator of the Year” by the Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.A …
State Rep. Kevin Brooks (R-Cleveland), who represents the 24th Legislative District, has been named “Legislator of the Year” by the Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
A multiple-term member of the state House of Representatives whose priorities include the care, protection and well-being of children in Tennessee, Brooks received the 2017 honor during a recent conference of the state group in Nashville.
The Cleveland communicator, who serves as public relations and conference coordinator at the Church of God International Offices, was first elected a state legislator in 2006.
His commitment to Tennessee, and his advocacy for children and young people, earned the praise of Dr. Deanna Bell, TNAAP vice president who serves as pediatric hospitalist at Centennial Children’s Hospital and is a member of the clinical faculty at Vanderbilt’s Children’s Hospital.
Bell presented the Cleveland-based lawmaker with the prestigious TNAAP award while pointing out the honor is given each year to a Tennessee lawmaker who has demonstrated in legislative action and individual performances “… a commitment that reflects our mission toward leadership, advocacy and authority for the physical, mental and social welfare of Tennessee children and the pediatricians who care for them.”
In a media statement, Bell described the award recipient as being “quickly recognized by his peers as a talented leader,” and pointed to the Cleveland lawmaker’s long list of legislative achievements and responsibilities.
Brooks is a past chair of the House Children and Family Affairs Subcommittee, current vice chair of the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee, and is a former assistant majority leader who worked closely with Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell.
Earning the TNAAP honor is not Brooks’ first within the private sector or by professional groups. Previously, he has been recognized by multiple children’s advocacy organizations with honors such as the Rural Health Association Legislator of the Year, the 2015 Disability Hero distinction by the Tennessee Disability Coalition and the Legislative Champion Award from Autism Speaks.
In receiving the TNAAP award, Brooks earned the praise of Mary Nell Bryan, president of Children’s Hospital Alliance of Tennessee.
“Rep. Brooks is more than an excellent legislator,” Bryan stressed. “He is outstanding … a real statesman who seeks in-depth information and sound, practical solutions, not quick and easy sound bites.”
Bryan said of the Tennessee lawmaker, “He has always been a tenacious champion for children, and in true pioneer fashion [he has] spearheaded the move that made Tennessee the first state in the nation with a statewide system of Coordinated School Health.”
She added, “Rep. Brooks has been an ardent advocate of other initiatives for children such as evidence-based home visitation programs, physical activity and physical education in schools, and healthier snacks, beverages and a la carte items in school nutrition programs.”
Bryan pointed out Brooks “… richly deserves this recognition from TNAAP, an organization whose members and staff work every day to improve the health and well-being of Tennessee’s children.”
In awarding Brooks the honor, the TNAAP vice president pointed out the Cleveland legislator has also “… worked toward passage of school bus safety camera legislation, and co-sponsored a bill requiring schools to maintain an on-site opioid antagonist.”
“The TNAAP Chapter recognizes Rep. Brooks this year on passage of House Bill 388, which requires schools — both public and private — to provide parents and guardians with information about influenza and the effectiveness of vaccination the beginning of each school year,” Bell said.
Another TNAAP spokesperson working with Brooks closely in Nashville, as well as anywhere across the state where children’s advocacy is a need, is Chris Ford, who represents the state organization in government relations.
“There are so many good words that could be used to describe Kevin Brooks, and maybe simply ‘happy’ is the best,” Ford said. “I look for the welcoming face and broad smile of the friend we call ‘Bishop’ to vigorously defend the health and welfare of Tennessee’s vulnerable children, and with equal fervor, demands a respect and fairness that is too often bereft from the political process.”
Ford added, “Kevin Brooks lives his faith with humility and service, encouraging all of us to do better, and be better people while doing just that.”
In accepting the TNAAP award, Brooks credited the strong influence of his family.
“It is truly humbling to be recognized and presented an award for simply serving in your calling,” the 11-year legislator told the TNAAP assembly. “I am grateful for the love and support of my family that allows me to serve.”
On a personal note, Brooks stressed, “As a husband and a father, it is my honor to serve as a voice for those with little or no voice, like the children of Tennessee. Thank you for this award and I pledge to continue working for the children and families of Tennessee.”
Brooks and his wife, Kim, have two children: Zach, who is a Lee University employee, and Elizabeth, who is enrolled in the Lee University School of Nursing.
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