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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
December 14, 2004

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Presentation of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities Coming Up Taller Awards
The Capitol Hilton
Washington, D.C.

4:01 P.M. EST

MRS. BUSH: Thank you, Adair. Adair, you're the one who did it, you and your great committee. Thank you very much for your leadership as the Chairman of the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities. And thanks to Bill Strickland and to the other members of your great committee for your really good work.

Thanks also to Dana Gioia and to Bruce Cole for your leadership of the National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and to Dr. Bob Martin of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

And I'm very glad that Gloria and Emilio Estefan are here with us today. Welcome Horacio Lecona, and His Excellency Ambassador Carlos de Icaza and Mrs. de Icaza and our friends from the Mexican delegation. Thank you all for joining us.

The President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities is pleased to honor two programs in Mexico with Coming Up Taller awards this year, and we're thrilled to have so many young actors, artists and dancers here today. We celebrate your talent and the dedication of the teachers who inspire you.

Through Coming up Taller programs, thousands of children are discovering they can do anything they set their mind to. At Access to Theater in Boston, there is no limit for children for disabilities. They write and perform plays like the stars they are. At Big Thought in Dallas, Texas, teens who once struggled to fit in are discovering that they are true standouts. Whether writing a script based on their life, or painting a portrait, these young people are finding new interests as they find out more about themselves.

In Santa Fe, young dancers leap into a career in dance in the advanced training program at the National Dance Institute of New Mexico. And In Programa de Atencion in Quintana Roo, young musicians make more than beautiful music -- they also make their own instruments. And they make quite an impression as they perform in villages across Mexico.

The arts and humanities are critical building blocks for a child's development and they provide a strong foundation for a lifetime of learning. Drawing helps children improve their writing skills. The study of poetry helps with memory and vocabulary. Theater can bring history to life.

At Aquarium on Wheels, children bring science out of the lab and into libraries across Baltimore. Young scientists star as jellyfish in aquatic productions that make science fun for children. With marital arts and music, the Arts and Literacy Program makes reading fun for young readers in Brooklyn. Remarkably, six-year-olds learn to read and write within three months, and more than 90 percent of the students read at grade level.

Children in Alexandria, Louisiana, are learning the joy of reading through Preschool Outreach Plus. When the colorful van arrives at their school with books and puppets, the children know they are in for a great story. And librarians from the Rapides Parish Library know that they are preparing children for a lifetime of learning.

In Coming Up Taller programs, children are growing up stronger and smarter. Through performances and exhibitions, they are recognized for their accomplishments. They learn to believe in themselves and in their futures. At Arts Street in Denver, young people produce commissioned pieces and gain valuable work experience with local artists. In San Francisco, in the Museum Ambassador Program, young docents develop their teaching skills and a passion for art history at museums.

The arts and humanities teach children that there is a big world beyond their front yards, and that world is waiting for them. For many, the new world is college. Through Saturday Outreach Program, high school students study drawing and architecture at New York's Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Arts. Nearly 80 percent of the students go on to college and several attend Cooper Union's selective schools of arts and architecture.

High school students prepare for college even before they graduate at the Windham and New London Connecticut CAP Programs in Willimantic, Connecticut. Students spend their summers at Eastern Connecticut State University where they study history and photography.

And in Los Angeles, communities are coming together to help young people expand their horizons. The CalArts Community Arts Partnership engages children in writing and animation. Thanks to dedicated mentors, the children learn that education is important and that they are important. With Coming Up Taller programs, more young people are staying after school instead of dropping out of school. More are participating in plays and tuning into music. Rather than giving up, they are giving in to the joy of expressing themselves on stage. This is just what young actors from the Albany Park Theater Project do -- and according to theater critics in Chicago -- they produce some of the most exciting theater in the city. Mentors also provide career counseling and more than 90 percent of the students in the program go on to college.

The Regent After School Program in New York provides a comforting place for homeless children to learn about great works of art. Students not only explore the beautiful Whitney Museum, they also produce their own exhibit. And at After-School and Summertime Blues Camp in Tuscaloosa, children learn about Alabama's musical heritage as they master the blues with harmonicas and guitars. The young Blues Band has amassed quite a fan club in the retirement homes in which they perform.

Music and theater give children a greater sense of character and confidence -- and a stronger appreciation for their culture. Young members of the Nez Perce take pride in their heritage as they learn about their history at Culture Camp. They also learn traditions like storytelling, which connect generations.

At Desarrollo Creativo in Chiapas, Mexico, children illustrate the artistic heritage of their ancestors through linoleum engraving and clay modeling. The entire community celebrates their talent with an annual festival.

Coming Up Taller programs provide all of this in a way that engages children. And they especially respond to their gifted teachers, artists and musicians who share their time with the children. Thanks to each one of the teachers and mentors who are with us today.

The study of the arts and humanities gives children the chance to be extraordinary -- the power to be themselves. This is truly what we celebrate today. Congratulations to the recipients of this year's Coming Up Taller Awards for the remarkable difference you are making in our world. And thank you all very much. (Applause.)

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