Ziggy is Advocate for Foster Families During National Foster Care Month in May

April 05, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
Cleveland, OH - (April 5, 2006) - The friendly and lovable cartoon character Ziggy is the 2006 spokes character for the National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) and National Foster Care Month (NFCM) in May.

Ziggy will help NFPA and NFCM recognize the efforts of foster parents across the nation and spread awareness about the ever-growing need for foster parents.

“Ziggy has always been a gentle messenger, bringing people together in a caring and meaningful way. I can think of no message more caring or more meaningful than one which encourages bringing together foster parents with so much love to give and children so in need of a loving family.” said Tom Wilson, cartoonist for Ziggy.

Ziggy turns 35 years old this summer. “Over the years and in its own way, Ziggy’s family has also grown through adoption and while his may be anything but ordinary, I’ve found that loving families can come in all shapes and sizes,” Wilson added. “I’m very happy that NFPA has decided to adopt Ziggy as their spokes character for National Foster Care Month. This is definitely a family I can live with.”

“We are excited to have Ziggy onboard because he is such a positive American icon,” said Karen Jorgenson, NFPA executive director. “Ziggy is always determined to weather the storm until things get better and that is the kind of attitude that we want to convey to our children and youth living in foster care. At the same time, he is a character that reaches out with a helping hand when one is needed, just like our dedicated foster parents.”

Wilson will spread the word about National Foster Care Month through a series of Ziggy comic panels premiering in May. Wilson will also team up with the Andrews McMeel Foundation to present Ziggy’s Gift, a scholarship for a college-bound foster child who is aging out of the system.

Ziggy first appeared in newspapers in June, 1971. Tom Wilson of Cleveland, Ohio, has drawn and written Ziggy since 1987, after the retirement of his father, the senior Tom Wilson, who first created Ziggy as a greeting card character. Distributed through Universal Press Syndicate, a division of Andrews McMeel Universal, Ziggy is published in more than 600 newspapers, reaching 75 million readers daily, and maintains an online presence through Ziggy.com and uclick.com. More than 20 Ziggy cartoon collection books and yearly calendars have been published by Andrews McMeel Publishing LLC.

In addition to his work with the NFPA, Ziggy's inspiring message extends to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, where he serves as the full-time official spokes character, and to World Food Day, where Wilson creates an annual comic panel to support the cause. In 2003, Wilson launched Character Matters (www.charactermatters.net) as a business dedicated to developing world-class characters for companies and brands. Licensees for Ziggy include Planet Sox, Top Heavy, Casa D' Oro, Russ Berrie & Co., Sara Max, Mighty Fine, Arrow International and BFS Entertainment & Multimedia Limited, which is launching the DVD of the “Ziggy's Gift.” The animated holiday special earned an Emmy Award in its only TV broadcast and recently won The Family Magazine Group’s Family Choice Award and the National Parenting Center Seal of Approval.”

Based in the Seattle area, the NFPA was established in 1972 as a support system for foster parents and strives to improve the state of child welfare programs in the United States. The Association works to provide foster parents and potential candidates with the information they need to improve the lives of foster children and urges local and national legislators to make child welfare a top government priority. Additionally, the Association puts on conferences, conventions, and training sessions to better prepare foster parents. Recently, the NFPA has sponsored efforts to provide relief for foster families affected by the Gulf Coast hurricanes.

National Foster Care Month was established to raise public awareness of the need for more people who are willing to change a lifetime for children and youth in foster care. NFCM is a partnership of Casey Family Programs; Annie E. Casey Foundation/Casey Family Services; Black Administrators in Child Welfare; Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Child Welfare League of America; Connect for Kids; Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative; APHSA/National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators; National Association of Social Workers; National Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA); National Foster Care Coalition; National Foster Parent Association; and the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning Hunter College School of Social Work, a Service of the Children’s Bureau. For more information, visit the National Foster Month Partnership site: www.fostercaremonth.org.