The El Paso Creative Kids program was one of 12 national arts programs to receive the President’s Commission on the Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award at the White House today. The program’s founders, Andrea Gates-Ingle and her husband Stephen Ingle, along with two Creative Kids students, went to Washington D.C. for the ceremony, which featured First Lady Michelle Obama. The award was for Project AIM (Arts in Motion), which provides hospitalized children with arts materials and teaches them about various arts including painting, drawing, photography and graphic design.
One of the students, 12-year-old Danashiya Pritchard, was selected to give the opening speech at the ceremony, held in the East Room with Danashiya’s painting displayed just a few feet from the famous portrait of George Washington. The 7th grader, who was first diagnosed with sickle cell anemia when she was just a few months old and began the AIM program when she was six, described the empowering effect of art-making: “By the time I was leaving the art room—wow—I can’t put it in words. I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to come back the next day. And we made some amazing art.” According to KVIA.com, Obama appeared to wipe a tear from her eye as she took the stage after the speech.
Danashiya received a standing ovation and AIM received a $10,000 grant in conjunction with the award.