- Associated Press - Thursday, November 12, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - An arts and science program sponsored by the Washington Pavilion Community Learning Center in Sioux Falls is being recognized by the White House.

The center’s after-school program is being awarded one of a dozen 2015 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, the nation’s highest honor for such programs.

Center Director Rose Ann Hofland and 17-year-old high school senior Chofian Abokbar are going to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to receive the award from first lady Michelle Obama. The center also will get $10,000 to support its programming.

The program began in 1999 to bring art and science experiences to children with limited access to extracurricular activities. It now serves more than 500 youth at more than 20 locations in Sioux Falls.

“These young people are learning how to use creative thinking to work as a team, to solve problems and to express themselves constructively,” Hofland said. “These are exactly the kinds of skills we want them to have to be able to succeed in school, in work and in life.”

Abokbar took part in the after-school program and now is a teen leader volunteer for pavilion programs.

“Having the chance to represent my peers in accepting this award from the first lady of the United States in the White House is going to be an experience that I’ll never forget,” she said. “It showed me that the power of programs like Action Arts and Science to change kids’ lives is recognized and valued.”

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