On November 19, Ohio Arts Council board chair Jeffrey A. Rich (pictured, right, with wife Leslie), of Dublin, was invited to the White House by First Lady Michelle Obama for the presentation of the 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards.
"This is a wonderful program developed by the President's Committee on Arts and the Humanities to shine light on great after school programs that change the lives of our children," Rich said, reporting back to OAC staff after the event.
Awardees included Alchemy, Inc., a non-profit organization in Copley, Ohio that uses myth to help urban adolescent males transition successfully from boyhood to manhood. Alchemy, Inc., which was founded in 2003 by G. Kwame Scruggs, runs in- and after-school classes and workshops at seven public schools in Akron, Cleveland, and Youngstown for males between the ages of 12 and 19, who are referred by teachers or counselors. The classes incorporate drumming, journaling, storytelling and group discussion.
Other notable awardees included the African Culture Connection, an organization from Omaha, Nebraska that was founded by Charles Ahovissi, a professional dancer, drummer, choreographer and educator from the West African nation of Benin; the Rhode Island-based AS220 Youth Studio of Providence, which uses workshops offered by teaching artists to help at-risk youth who have struggled in school or are wards of the state; the Mariachi Master Apprentice Program, from San Fernando, California - a group of Mexican-American high school Mariachi musicians; and the New York City Urban Debate League, a program sponsored by the Bronx School of Law, Government and Justice.
"The 2012 awardees demonstrate the power that comes from young people realizing their creative promise," the First Lady told attendees. "These outstanding organizations from across the country inspire our youth to explore the world of possibility that awaits them."
Board chair Rich said he was proud to represent the Ohio Arts Council at the White House, and added, "from high school historian internship programs to a youth radio network, and from Oakland and Seattle to New York and Hong Kong, the 12 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program awardees represented the best of our world's youth. These imaginative and resourceful programs help inspire and train the next generation of creators."