For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
January 9, 2007
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at the Louisiana Children's Museum in New Orleans
The Louisiana Children's Museum
New Orleans, Louisiana
1:58 P.M. CST
MRS. BUSH: Everybody here can see how much fun the Louisiana Children's Museum is. And I want to encourage people in New Orleans and the surrounding parishes to bring their kids here. Especially if you're living in a FEMA trailer and your children don't have a fun place to play, this is a great place to spend the afternoon.
The museum is working with a lot of schools, some of the schools that had the most damage, from the neighborhoods with the most damage, and the children that need a place to play the most.
I saw some children here from St. Bernard's, from Andrew Jackson School and Benjamin Franklin School in Orleans Parish and a lot of other schools here.
So I want to encourage parents, if your children aren't coming here with their school, and they need a fun place to play, bring them here. And there are so many really, really fun things to do.
I also just want to tell you, one of the things I heard from one little girl was a worry about shootings. And I know there's a worry right now in New Orleans about crime, and I want to encourage the community to stand together. I saw in a newspaper article a mention of CeaseFire Chicago, which is a group that I've done some work with through Helping America's Youth. It's a community action group where pastors and law enforcement and schools and parents and community activists all work together to say, don't do any more shooting. We want to live a great life here.
So I want to encourage the people of Louisiana to -- New Orleans, particularly -- to stand together as you try to reduce the crime rates, and also to be aware that your children are fearful, and you need to encourage them and make sure that they know that you're there with them.
So thanks, everybody.
MRS. BUSH: Absolutely. And where we just were, at Café Reconcile, is another great -- there are many, many terrific community opportunities, in New Orleans and all across the Gulf Coast. If you think that somebody in your family needs some sort of help, reach out. There are a lot of different groups that are very, very willing to help. Where we were at Café Reconcile, that's for older young people who -- nearly all the ones that I ate with today had dropped out of school and they were on the streets and they were having trouble. And Café Reconcile gave them the chance to get a good job, get the training for a good job, and also to have that support that's part of the program.
So I encourage people to look for those kind of programs if you have family members that need those kind of programs. And there are a lot of them. As you all know, many, many people have come from across the country to volunteer here, and there are a lot of ways to give help. So I want to encourage people around here to seek help if you feel like a family member needs it, and to make sure your children are in school. It's really important.
Q Mrs. Bush, is there a common theme among the three places you visited today?
MRS. BUSH: All three of the visits today really had to do with what we can do to help young people, but not only what we can do to help young people, but what we can do to help rebuild the community. If communities have good schools, people will come back. If people can get jobs, if they can be trained for jobs, they'll come back, and that's what Café Reconcile does. People want to know, if they move back, that there will be help for their families, and for their children particularly. They want to know that their children will have a fun, safe place to play, like the museum affords for them, or will have a safe school and a place to play there -- especially now while a lot of people don't have their own yards to play in, or a lot of the parks are not in commission or not really suitable for children to play in right now. But as they get built, rebuilt, and there are safe places to play, people will come back.
Q How can the federal government help our city fight crime?
MRS. BUSH: In fighting crime? That's a very good question, and I think it's an important question. I think we should ask the Justice Department about it, as well. But as you know, National Guard is here, and other groups are here to try to help in the crime statistics.
But I think people in the community really need to speak out and do whatever they can to get the message across that it's not acceptable.
One of the theories behind CeaseFire Chicago is that violence is taught. And if you grow up in a neighborhood where violence is common, you think it's normal. And you have to learn -- because violence is taught, it can be unlearned, and that it's really important for people to work together, for the schools, for clergy, law enforcement, and community activists -- everybody to work together to say, we don't want crime in our neighborhood. We want our children to be able to grow up safe.
And I encourage people to get together and say those things and to work with each other. When a school knows that a student is not showing up, it's a good time to call the clergy, to ask a clergy to go knock on the child's door, let the parents know, and then to be able to offer those parents a safe place for their child to be during the day, like Café Reconcile or many other programs around the city.
So thank you all so much.
END 2:04 P.M. CST