2009 AMBER Alert Poster Contest Winners
On Wednesday, May 27, 2009, at 11:00 a.m., the Molly Bish Foundation hosted the 9th Annual Missing Children's Day Ceremony in the Nurses Hall at the State House in Boston. This ceremony honors the memory of missing and murdered children and demonstrates support for missing and abducted children who have been safely returned to their families. The ceremony included testimonials from parents of missing and murdered children as well as speeches from members of law enforcement and elected officials.
Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray read a proclamation from Governor Deval Patrick that proclaimed May 2009 to be Massachusetts Missing Children Month. The proclamation further urged all the citizens of the Commonwealth to "take cognizance of this event and participate fittingly in its observance." Other speakers who offered their
support to the families of missing and murdered children included: Attorney General Martha Coakley, Senate President Therese Murray, Senator Stephen Brewer, Representative Anne Gobi and Representative Todd Smola.
Massachusetts State Police Lieutenant Colonel Marian McGovern spoke about State Police programs and initiatives to help keep Massachusetts children safe, and stated, "we need to create a safe environment for children, and we need to make it our mission." State Police Sergeant Pi Heseltine announced significant recent improvements to the Massachusetts Missing Children Clearinghouse, including the implementation of a new public website ( www.mass.gov/missingchildren), and the ability to rapidly post photographs of missing and abducted children on both this new website and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website. Additionally, Sergeant Heseltine announced that the Massachusetts Missing Children Clearinghouse, in conjunction with the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Youth Services, has began a series of regional law enforcement trainings to enhance awareness of the tools the clearinghouse can provide police departments to improve the law enforcement response to missing and abducted children cases.
During the ceremony, awards were presented to individuals, organizations and businesses that have contributed significantly to protecting the children of the Commonwealth and advancing issues regarding missing and abducted children. Among the award recipients was Trooper Stephen Barnes of the State Police K-9 Unit East. Trooper Barnes was presented with an award from the Molly Bish Foundation and a House of Representatives Citation from Representative Timothy Toomey for his work on a parental abduction case on April 2, 2009, that resulted in the safe recovery of three abducted children in Puerto Rico. Additionally, Sergeant Pi Heseltine received an award for helping to improve the Massachusetts Missing Children Clearinghouse, and Trooper Nicole Morrell received an award for her outstanding work as the Massachusetts AMBER Alert coordinator.
The ceremony also
included the announcement of the Massachusetts winner of the 2009 Amber Alert Poster Contest. The United States Department of Justice sponsors this annual poster contest that challenges fifth grade students to develop posters that represent America's united goal of bringing missing children home safely. This year's winner, 11-year-old fifth grader Mia Coutinho from the Edward Hopkins School in Hopkinton, was presented with a plaque by Trooper Nicole Morrell, the Commonwealth's AMBER Alert Coordinator and organizer of the poster contest in Massachusetts. Mia's poster represented America's united goal of bringing missing children home safely by illustrating the nationwide reach of the AMBER Alert System and encouraging missing children and their families not to give up hope for a safe recovery. This year's second place poster was illustrated by 11-year-old Luke Tempesta of Upton, who attends the Miscoe Hill Middle School in Mendon. Luke's poster depicts a home in the center of Massachusetts, with roads leading to the home, representing paths for abducted children to return home safely. Eleven-year-old Elissa Haddad of the Foxborough Regional Charter School in Foxborough won third place for her poster depicting a family neighborhood plastered with missing children posters.
Winning Poster - By Mia Coutinho of Hopkinton
Second Place Poster Third Place Poster
By Luke Tempesta of Upton By Elissa Haddad of Foxborough