CHICAGO, Jan. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Chicago music legend and First Lady of Children's Music Ella Jenkins will receive the Lifetime Achievement Opening Minds Award at a private reception in Chicago on January 23rd for her contributions to and advocacy in music education for children. The Award will be bestowed by Chicago Metropolitan Association for the Education of Young Children (Chicago Metro AEYC), a leader in early care and education services for young children ages birth through age eight and coincides with the opening of its annual Opening Minds Conference attended by 5,000 educators and early care professionals. Through her music, Jenkins has dedicated her life to making this world a better place for children and has achieved international stature as a pioneer and leader in the children's educational music industry. She presently has a collection of award-winning audio and video releases and her children's songs are part of educational curriculum's spanning the globe. At the young age of 88, Chicago-based Jenkins still has the whole world in her hands, continuing to bring millions of children the joy of music; her new CD " Moving with Ella Jenkins," will be released Tuesday, January 29 by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (her 33rd title recorded by the organization). "We are forever grateful to Ella Jenkins, a pioneer in music education and recordings for young children, who has truly changed the course of so many lives, both young and old," says Gail Conway, CEO of Chicago Metro AEYC. "For her long standing commitment and advocacy in the field of music and early childhood education across the globe and as a former Service to Young Children's Award Honoree of Chicago Metro AEYC, it is our great pleasure to now bestow her with our first 'Lifetime Achievement Award'." According to Conway, "Music and the arts play such a pivotal role in young children's developing intellect and emotional life. We are fortunate to have role models and trailblazers as Ella Jenkins advocating to keep this educational form alive." Chicago Metro AEYC's Creative Community Project helps fuel creativity by helping various cultural institutions develop accessible, child centered and family friendly programming. Its first partnering was with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's 'Once Upon a Symphony,' which combined music and storytelling in an interactive orchestral experience to introduce young children to the world of classical music. "Funds for programs in all arts education are so vitally needed to continue nurturing and inspiring our children," Conway adds. "We plan to continue seeking out partners as funds allow." Honors will also be bestowed to Chicago's Michael Byrd, Executive Director of CASA of Cook County who is this year's Service to Young Children Award recipient. CASA speaks up in court for abused and neglected children and ensures that children live in safe, permanent homes. A 25 year veteran working with the issues that complicate the lives of the families involved in the Child Welfare System, his experience includes working as the Public Policy and Research Specialist with the Illinois African American Family Commission and as a Senior TA Consultant for Strengthening Families Illinois. Chicago Metro AEYC is the premiere quality care and early childhood education organization for children from birth through eight years old. A proven leader, Chicago Metro AEYC is the BEST option for professional development, pioneering new pathways and advocating for policies and practices to advance and prepare the entire early care and education field for a global community.