|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
July 26, 2005
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at the Teen Trendsetter Summit
Wyndham Orlando Resort
12:49 P.M. EDT
MRS. BUSH: Thank you all. Carmella, thank you very, very much for your kind introduction, and thank you for mentoring children. You can be very proud of the work you've done, and you're an inspiration to me and I know to everyone here, as well.
And thanks also to your Governor, who's a terrific leader for Florida. (Applause.) And I'd say that even if we weren't related.
Is Mayor Crotty still here? Thank you very, very much for being here with us, too. And thanks, of course, to all of the Trendsetters, and special congratulations to the Champions we recognized. Your commitment to service is an inspiration to other students in your schools and communities, and to adults. You're showing people that with just a few hours a month, you can make a profound difference in a child's life. Thank each one of you very, very much. (Applause.)
President Bush and Governor Bush and I believe that more people will volunteer in their communities if they are asked to volunteer and if they're shown how to get started. I'm proud that your Governor has made mentoring a centerpiece of his administration.
Governor Bush spoke about the success of Florida's fourth-graders on the state test. Students across America are experiencing similar success. Last month, new scores from the NAEP test -- which is also called "The Nation's Report Card" -- showed that nine-year-olds had the highest scores ever recorded in both reading and math.
More good news is that the difference between the scores of majority students and the scores of minority students -- what we call the achievement gap -- is getting narrower. The gap between whitee and African American nine-year-olds in reading is the narrowest it's ever been in the 30-year history of the NAEP test. We know from this report that students are striving to reach higher standards, and that more students are meeting those standards.
And the success of Florida's fourth-graders must make Teen Trendsetters very proud. As Governor Bush said, you played an important part in their success. And you've experienced it directly. You've seen boys and girls beam with pride over a good report card. You've seen children's eyes light up because they were able to read a whole book -- maybe for the first time.
Ryan Wooten, one of the Teen Trendsetter Champions, and his group of mentors gave their children a book by Dr. Seuss called I Can Read with My Eyes Shut. Ryan asked the boys and the girls if they wanted the older students to read to them. But one of the younger students said, "Can we read it to you?" Moments like that are what make mentoring so fulfilling.
Of course, Trendsetters go beyond helping children improve their reading skills. You serve as role models for children who look up to you. In the eyes of a third-grader, teenagers are pretty cool. And little boys and girls can't wait to be grown-up like you are. So it's so important to set a positive example.
Children watch you to learn about good behavior, about being responsible and honest. By not smoking and staying away from alcohol and drugs, you teach children the importance of good health and good choices. And your emphasis on education sends the message that working hard in school is an important part of growing up.
Teen Trendsetters is the kind of program President Bush and I are highlighting around the country through an initiative called Helping America's Youth. The President announced Helping America's Youth in his State of the Union Address last January. The initiative concentrates on the three most important parts of a child's life -- a child's family, a child's school, and a child's community.
Across America people have found ways to help boys and girls make healthy choices in life, and to help them excel in school. In Detroit, coaches volunteer in a program called Think Detroit, where they teach life lessons through sports. During practices and games children learn about respect for other people, about teamwork, and about achieving goals. Children also learn to stay healthy through physical exercise and by avoiding dangerous behaviors like smoking or drug or alcohol abuse.
In Los Angeles, Will Power to Youth uses drama to help gang-infested -- young people in gang-infested neighborhoods. Teenagers are employed to producee a Shakespeare play. Consider all the benefits of this. The theater is a safe place to go after school, the students learn classic literature, they gain self-confidence by performing in front of other people, and they even learn the technical skills of using sound and lights to stage a performance, skills that can help them get a job when they get older.
These programs and many others across America are run by caring people who want to help children navigate all the challenges that come with growing up. These people have the same ethic of service that you've developed at a very early age. And in the future, you'll learn the lessons that you've learned at Teen Trendsetters to help even more children.
There are 15 million children in our country who need a mentor. Surely there are 15 million caring Americans who can fill that need. Individuals who participate in youth programs have the insight to share with people who want to get involved in their communities. The federal government can help by fostering these connections. We can bring people together to share ideas and experiences, and motivate others to take action.
On October 27th, I'll host a White House Summit on Helping America's Youth in Washington. We'll invite researchers, service providers, and volunteers who can help us understand the challenges faced by today's youth and recommend effective programs to help children.
By bringing together these experts and sharing their knowledge with people across America, we can help build bridges between children and their families, schools, and communities. We want every child in America to have a parent, a teacher, a coach, or a mentor that he or she can turn to for support, guidance, and love.
Thank you for taking the time to mentor children in your communities. You have discovered what a privilege it is to make a difference in the life of a child. I urge you to share your experiences -- and keep inspiring other people to help America's youth.
Thank you all very much. Enjoy the rest of the summit, and have a great summer. (Applause.)
END 12:57 P.M. EDT