First lady honors arts programs for at-risk youth

WASHINGTON (AP) - Kids took the stage and celebrities sat in the audience Wednesday as first lady Michelle Obama honored community arts programs that help young people around the country develop their talents and succeed in life.

Mrs. Obama presented 15 after-school and out-of-school programs, many of them serving at-risk youth, with the 2010 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. She said the programs teach young people that “each of them has something of value to contribute.”

The East Room erupted in whoops and hollers after a handful of solemn-looking youngsters from an arts program in Hartford, Conn., carefully took the stage and then burst forth as a jazz combo performing with tap dancers.

“You never know the hidden passion that’s in a kid,” Mrs. Obama declared after their performance.

She called the arts programs “shining examples of using success in the arts and humanities as a bridge to success in life.”

The award is presented on behalf of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in partnership with three national cultural agencies. The committee includes a number of celebrities, and some of them were on hand for the White House ceremony, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Forest Whitaker and Kerry Washington.

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