FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA HONORS POWERSTORIES THEATRE
Local program one of 15 nationwide recognized for positive youth outcomes through engagement in the arts and humanities
TAMPA, Fla. (October 20, 2010) – For its effectiveness in developing creativity and fostering academic success by engaging young people in the arts and humanities, Powerstories Theatre’s Girlstories Leadership Theatre Program was recognized with a prestigious national award by First Lady Michelle Obama at a White House ceremony on Wednesday, October 20.
Chosen from a pool of more than 400 nominations and 50 finalists, Girlstories Leadership Theatre Program was one of 15 after-school and out-of-school programs from across the country to receive the 2010 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award (formerly, the Coming Up Taller Award), the highest honor such programs can receive in the United States. The awards are administered by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), in partnership with
the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The award honors community-based arts and humanities programs that make a marked difference in the lives of their participants by improving academic scores and graduation rates, enhancing life skills, and developing positive relationships with peers and adults.
Powerstories Theatre was recognized by Mrs. Obama for using engagement in the arts and the humanities through the Girlstories Leadership Theatre programs to build communication skills, confidence and self-esteem among middle school girls, using theatre arts to teach them to honor and speak their personal story and share those stories in performances to elementary school girls. Founded in 2000, Powerstories Theatre was created to stage true stories to open minds and hearts and inspire action worldwide. With the introduction of the Girlstories Programs in 2003, more than 5,000 young people have participated in theatre, storytelling, music, dance, improvisation, art and leadership. Youth have either attended workshops with partner social service agencies, participated in summer theatre and after-school programs or attended original performances.
Accepting the award from Mrs. Obama on behalf of Girlstories Leadership Theatre was Naomi Diaz, a 13 year-old program participant, who was accompanied to the White House by Fran Powers, Executive Director of Powerstories Theatre.
“Standing with the First Lady of the United States in the White House and accepting this award was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’ll never forget,” said Naomi Diaz. “It showed me that our country really values how theatre and art can change lives.”
“By engaging and inspiring young people, Powerstories Theatre is giving young girls a vision that their dreams can come true, and developing the skills to build a wonderful, productive and creative life for themselves and their community,” said Fran Powers, Founder and Executive Director. “These young girls are learning how to express themselves with confidence and to work creatively together as a team – these are the kinds of skills that will enable them to succeed in school, in work and in life.”
In addition to the national recognition bestowed by receipt of the prestigious award, Powerstories Theatre will also receive $10,000 to support its programming and engage more young people from the community.
The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is the nation’s highest honor for after-school arts and humanities programs, particularly those that reach underserved children and youth. The awards recognize and support outstanding programs that lay new pathways to creativity, expression, and achievement outside of the regular school day. These programs excite and engage a range of students, cultivating imagination, collaboration, discipline and academic success, with demonstrable results. They also provide safe havens after school, on weekends and evenings for children and youth in some of our country’s most at-risk urban and rural settings. For more information, visit www.pcah.gov.
The mission of Powerstories Theatre is to stage true stories to open minds and hearts and inspire action worldwide. The vision is to be a worldwide leader in seeking, sharing and staging true stories, with special emphasis on works by and for women and girls. In the speaking and honoring of these true stories of great learning, performers and audiences alike receive a powerful gift - the validation that they are living a unique, valuable life.
The Girlstories Leadership Programs are funded by The Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, The Conn Memorial Foundation, The Triad Foundation, e-Women Network and the Community Foundation of Greater Sun City Center. For more information please visit www.powerstories.com.