Mr. Rogers’ memory lives on in scholarships

LOS ANGELES, CA – The man in the cardigan himself would’ve been glad to welcome the Fred Rogers Memorial Scholarship winners to his neighborhood, his widow said.

The three college students, whose names were announced Sunday, are part of a series of “wonderful young people” who’ve been recognized by the 4-year-old scholarship program named for her husband, the children’s TV host, said Joanne Rogers.

Michael Robb of the University of California, Riverside; Sabrina Connell of the University of Connecticut and Ronald McCants of UC San Diego each receive a $10,000 scholarship. Their media projects and studies focus on such issues as children’s literacy and health.

“The committee that selects them was well-acquainted with Fred. They know his philosophy and they know what he was about,” Joanne Rogers, 80, said this week from her Pittsburgh home as she prepared to fly to Los Angeles for Sunday’s ceremony.

“Fred would have been just ecstatic. He loved little children, but he also loved his big children, too,” she said, with a laugh. “Kids in high school and college would stop him on the street to say, `I grew up with you,'” she said.

“I find it such a blessing that someone’s life work would be recognized like this,” Joanne Rogers said of her husband, who died in 2002 at age 74.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation and the academy’s children’s programming peer group also honored Scott Schultz and Christian Jacobs, creators of the preschool music series “Yo Gabba Gabba!,” with the inaugural Innovation Award.

The award recognizes programs or contributions that keep children’s TV fresh. “Yo Gabba Gabba!”, which encourages young viewers to sing and dance, is shown on the Nick Jr. and Noggin channels.

Fred Rogers’ venerated public TV series “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” still airs, although Joanne Rogers would like to see them on more often and at more convenient times.

She said her husband’s gift for being able to see through a very young child’s eye remains relevant.

“We all have only one life to live on Earth,” Fred Rogers once said. “And through television we have the choice of encouraging others to demean this life or to cherish it in creative, imaginative ways.”

Joanne Rogers, mother of two sons and grandmother of three boys, including a 5-year-old, said her husband believed that when it came to being a parent, “the best gift you can give is your honest self.”

Originally posted on Yahoo! News

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