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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
November 5, 2003

Opening Remarks by Mrs. Bush at the Coming Up Taller Awards
As Delivered
The East Room

Welcome to the White House and to the sixth annual Coming Up Taller Awards. And welcome to Minister Ignacio Duran and our friends from the Mexican delegation. The President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities is pleased to honor two programs in Mexico with Coming Up Taller Awards. I'm thrilled to have so many young artists, actors, and dancers here. Today, we celebrate your talent, and the dedication of your teachers who inspire you to paint, act, and dance out your dreams.

Jacques d'Amboise is one of those dedicated teachers. Dance changed his life and as Jacques says he wants to teach children, "how the arts are a way of discovering their humanity and their excellence." Daisy Acevedo is discovering her excellence at Life Lines in Brooklyn. Daisy said, "(Life Lines) has inspired me to go after my dreams...of going off to college and becoming a lawyer. It's inspired be optimistic about life." Through the study of the arts and humanities, young people like Daisy are inspired to tune violins rather than tune into television. And more are participating in theater than in violence.

Growing up in Los Angeles, Jose Herrera could have easily followed a path of violence. But he found a better path at Will Power to Youth where he performs Shakespeare. Jose said, "Every person is important...It gives you confidence knowing that... people support you." Thanks to the arts, young people like Jose are growing up stronger and smarter, and more prepared for what the world holds. The arts and humanities are critical building blocks for a child's development. The study of poetry helps with memory and vocabulary. And theater brings history to life - especially at the Orphan Girl Theatre in Butte, Montana.

Performing plays about the history of Butte has given Micaela Newman a greater appreciation for her hometown. Micaela said, "We share stories...and learn to value each other. You can see everyone changing for the better. The Orphan Girl is really a home away from home." At Orphan Girl Theatre, young people learn in a safe environment where they are recognized for their accomplishments. They learn confidence and discipline. And above all, they learn to love learning. Edgar Sifuentes Casso, from Mexico has been singing with MECED Chimalli for three years. Edgar said, "This...experience has changed my life, and has given me the opportunity to learn about my culture through singing."

At MYTOWN, Rajiv Lahens is learning about his Haitian heritage and about the lives of immigrants as he leads walking tours of Boston. Rajiv said this program gives, "young people the become leaders. (MYTOWN) will help to guide you along a road of life. You need programs like this to make your ride a little less hectic."

And you need a really good teacher, as Byron at Ailey Camp in Kansas City, Missouri has learned. Byron said, "(Ailey Camp)...has made me more culturally aware, confident, and has given me friends and teachers who changed my life." I commend the teachers here for sharing your time and talent with young people. The study of arts and the humanities helps to develop a child's character and confidence. And as we've learned from Daisy, Jose, Micaela, Edgar, Rajiv, and Byron - the arts and humanities also have the power to change a child's life. Along with these talented young people, this is truly what we celebrate today.

I'd now like to introduce Adair Margo, Chair of The President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.


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