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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
November 14, 2008

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at the Coming Up Taller Awards Ceremony
East Room

photos  Photos

9:36 A.M. EST

MRS. BUSH: Good morning, everyone. Good morning. Welcome to the White House. It's so great to see you all this morning. This is one of my favorite events, the Coming Up Taller Awards. I love to be able to highlight terrific youth programs that are going on around our country, and now with our new partnerships around the world, as well.

This is my last Coming Up Taller program here at the White House. I've told my friends, Adair, that I'm on sort of the tour of the last of everything right now. (Laughter.) But this has been so much fun. It's been really terrific to be involved with the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities. I want to thank all of the board members here from the President's Committee for your great outreach both in the United States, finding and identifying these terrific programs that help young people, as well as reaching out to people in Mexico and China, and now Egypt. So it's very exciting to have Egypt as our new partner in the Coming Up Taller Awards.

Mrs. Laura Bush delivers remarks during the Coming Up Taller Awards Friday, Nov. 14, 2008, in the East Room of the White House. Mrs. Bush stated during her remarks, "Congratulations to all the recipients of the 2008 Coming Up Taller Awards! Because of the programs you represent, young people are building the confidence to paint, dance, speak, sing and in every one of their communities, to walk taller. Thank you all very, very much." White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian I want to recognize especially the Chairman of the Committee, the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities, my friend, Adair Margo, who's done such a terrific job. And it's really, for me, been just a great pleasure that she's been Chairman, because when she comes up for her Committee meetings, she stays with me. (Laughter.) And it's a way for me to have a little bit of El Paso, Texas here at the White House. (Laughter.)

I also want to recognize -- but I don't see him -- Henry Moran. Is Henry here? I'm sure he must be. There he is at the very back. Of course he's standing at the very back. He's the Executive Director of the President's Committee. And thank you very, very much, Henry, for your service for the last eight years. It's been really terrific. (Applause.)

I also want to thank all the members of the President's Committee for all of the work you've done over the last few years. You've just been terrific servants for our country, and I thank you very, very much for that.

We also have representatives today from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services -- the three federal cultural agencies that work with the President's Committee to make sure we have a rich cultural life for every person in the United States. And I thank you very much.

Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan I think is here, the Mexican Ambassador to the United States.

Mr. Alvaro Hegewisch, the Director of the Cultural Liaison, National Council for Culture of Arts in Mexico.

Mrs. Laura Bush listens as Berklee City Music group performs Friday, Nov. 14, 2008, during the Coming Up Taller Awards in the East Room of the White House. White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian Mrs. Zhou -- Mr. Zhou Wenzhong, the Chinese Ambassador to the United States. Where are you, Ambassador? I saw you when we came in. Right over there. Thank you, Ambassador, very much.

Minister Cai Wu, the Minister of Culture from the People's Republic of China, thank you, Mr. Minister, for joining us today.

Mr. Amr Ramadan, the Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt, thank you for joining us, as well.

The study of the arts and humanities gives children the chance to be extraordinary and the power to be themselves. Today, we're honoring 19 terrific programs that help young people use their creativity and their talents to succeed.

At Boston's Berklee City Music program, youth tickle the ivories and make their saxophones sing. And a scholarship program helps talented students continue their studies at the Berklee College of Music.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum knows that creative arts build skills for creative solving problems. Students in their Art and Leadership Program learn to make good decisions as they explore their inner artists.

Nearly 6,000 children are making big plays with America SCORES. This innovative program supports after-school soccer games, poetry workshops, and community service activities at 200 public elementary schools in cities across the country.

In Springfield, Ohio, young people are dancing hip-hop and keeping rhythm in Bucket Band -- courtesy of Project Jericho. Project Jericho programs encourage troubled families to bond over art. And a partnership with the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center helps adjudicated youth uncover their artistic talent and reduce their chances of recidivism.

Fair warning to all of the reporters who are here today: You may see some competition from the Simpson Street Free Press. (Laughter.) This Madison, Wisconsin, paper employs youth reporters to write about history, science, literature, and more. The newspaper has grown to a circulation of 23,000. And here's another impressive statistic: 92 percent of the seniors in this program go on to college.

A few miles away in Milwaukee, music is in the air -- thanks to the Latino Strings Program. This after-school and summer program instructs students of all ages in violin, viola, cello and guitar.

In New York, "Queens Teens" workshops invite students to explore collections at the Queens Museum of Art. Youth then put their skill to work, taking advantage of paid opportunities to lead art workshops or conduct museum tours. Many program graduates pursue careers in art, design, or fashion.

Two of this year's awardees know that a picture is worth a thousand words. In San Diego, the Journey program is helping refugee and immigrant youth explore their world through the camera's lens. And in Dearborn, Michigan, the SURA Arts Academy uses student photographs to spark conversation across cultures and communities.

If one artist is good, then four artists are better! That's the theory behind the Summer Arts for Youth program, run by the Young Audiences of Indiana. This project deploys teams of musicians, dancers, visual artists and actors to inspire children throughout Indianapolis. Activities are built around stories from children's books, which helps students brush up on their reading schools [sic] while school is out for the summer.

Kids are playing with words at the Pima County Public Library in Tucson, Arizona. Teen mentors in the Word Journeys program help elementary students illustrate books, style poems, and embark on library "treasure hunts."

Three of our honorees use the open stage to help youth open up. In New York City, the TADA! Youth Theater provides hours of music, dance, and drama training for students in their resident youth ensemble. The Youth Ensemble of Atlanta helps teens tackle issues from child abuse to HIV through the unlikely vehicle of musical theater. And in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the Fulton YouTheatre helps at-risk, disabled, and disadvantaged teens stage and perform original theater.

At the Alaska Native Heritage Center, Anchorage youth study the music and dance of their Native ancestors. Teens gain a sense of cultural identity and a solid footing on the path to success: the graduation rate for students in the After-School High School program is 24 percent higher than the rate for other Alaska Natives.

Youth in Mexico's Tabasco state are dancing, playing the drums, and getting in touch with their inner roots -- thanks to the Chontal Indigenous Community Cultural Group.

In Mexico's Oaxaca state, children are joining the band -- the local marimba band, that is. Sponsored by the Oaxaca Ministry of Culture, boys and girls in 11 communities are preserving their heritage and brightening their neighborhoods by learning to play this traditional instrument.

In China, the Shaanxi Opera and Drama Research Institute is preserving another traditional art form -- Qin Qiang, a Chinese folk opera. Students in the Institute's amateur actor training class take part in year-round studies to learn this centuries-old style.

For the first time ever, a program in Egypt is receiving the Coming Up Taller award. In Cairo, Friday Workshops for Working Children are opening new worlds for young laborers -- many of whom work six days a week. On Friday, these children are free to build friendships and explore their talent in visual arts, theater, and animation. Thank you to the Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art for hosting these workshops.

And congratulations to all the recipients of the 2008 Coming Up Taller Awards! Because of the programs you represent, young people are building the confidence to paint, dance, speak, sing -- and in every one of their communities, to walk taller. Thank you all very, very much. (Applause.)

Now it's my pleasure to introduce my good friend and a great friend to the arts and to young people around the world: the Chairman of the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities, Adair Margo. (Applause.)


Thank you, Erica. That was really beautiful. I see some weeping over here -- (laughter) -- from a few Americans.

Thank you all very much. I want to thank Adair again for your marvelous leadership of the President's Committee, and I want to thank every one of the terrific programs serving young people that are represented here today.

For each of you, I hope you realize what this means. It means that you are an example for other programs around the country. You're an example for other groups to learn about. And I think that's one important part of being recognized as a Coming Up Taller program. I also hope that you'll be able to leverage your award as a Coming Up Taller Award winner to be able to continue your work, to expand it, to reach even more young people.

So thank you all very, very much. Thank you to all the members of the Committee. Thank you to our foreign partners, as well. We appreciate it very much. Thank you all for being a part of it. And God bless you all. (Applause.)

END 10:21 A.M. EST

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