Laura Bush Salutes Arts for Underprivileged Youth

Hailing the positive impact of the arts and humanities on the lives of young people, first lady Laura Bush presented awards to community organizations in the United States and Mexico on Wednesday for their pioneering work with underprivileged youth.

Eighteen nonprofit organizations received $10,000 each as finalists in the sixth annual Coming Up Taller Awards (search), hosted by Mrs. Bush in the East Room of the White House. The organizations were recognized for training school-age children in areas such as visual arts, music, dance, creative writing, theater, broadcast journalism, history education.

Community arts programs inspire children to "tune violins rather than tune into television," Mrs. Bush said. "The arts and humanities also have the power to change a child's life."

The first lady was treated to performances from two of the winning groups. A colorful troupe of dancers from New York City's National Dance Institute (search) clapped and shimmied to the tune "When the Saints Go Marching In." Nicholas Robbins, 13, and Nicholas Oliveri, 11, of St. Louis' Center of Creative Arts, sang a medley of patriotic tunes.

The U.S. recipients also included: AileyCamp, a dance camp in Kansas City, Mo.; the Boston Photo Collaborative (search), which teaches children photography, business and computer skills; Hard Cover, a youth-produced cable-access series in Chicago; and the Community Music School in Raleigh, N.C., which provides private music instruction to low-income youth for $1 a week.

The Mexican finalists were the Tamaulpas Institute for Culture and the Arts (search), a state-sponsored organization that has created 14 children's choirs in rural areas, and the Oaxaca Culture Institute, for its Rufino Tamayo Plastic Arts Workshop.

The awards are sponsored by the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities (search), which Mrs. Bush chairs, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The Mexican awards are sponsored by the U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Culture in Mexico City.