Fred Rogers' dedication to his long-running children's show will be saluted next week in New York during the 52nd annual Christopher Awards.
First presented in 1949, the awards recognize media that remind audiences of their worth, individuality and power to make a difference. The Special Christopher Award, being given to Rogers and "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," the James Keller and Life Achievement awards are given only when achievements are deemed worthy of the highest honors.
Carroll O'Connor will receive the Life Achievement Award. Actor and activist Andrew Shue is being given the Keller Award for his work on behalf of youth empowerment. As a New Jersey high school student in the 1980s, he founded Students Serving Seniors, and in 1993, he created Do Something, a national nonprofit that also helps young people help others.
Rogers will be honored for his program that has quietly affirmed the self-worth of young children. This is the first time a children's program has received this particular honor. Previous recipients have included "Touched by an Angel," "M*A*S*H" and the "Today" show.
"Fred Rogers has made his neighborhood our own for more than three decades and has taught young and old alike about the values that endure," said Monsignor James P. Lisante, director of the Christophers.
This will be Rogers' second Christopher. He was also honored in 1984. The Pittsburgher, who will receive his bronze medallion Feb. 22 at the Time-Life Building, taped the final episodes of his show in December. They will air later this year, and the series will continue in reruns.
After Rogers visits New York, he will head for Washington, D.C., where he will be honored at a conference of PBS Ready to Learn coordinators.