Michelle Obama cited the "transformative power of the arts" Monday as she presented national arts and humanities awards to 12 community-based, after-school programs that reach underserved youth.
The programs— including those focused on at-risk kids— use music, dance, poetry, debate, theater and other outlets to inspire creative development among young people.
The first lady said at a White House ceremony that the programs teach kids skills such as teamwork and self-expression that are also critical in the classroom and workplace.
Mrs. Obama thanked educators, leaders and performers for, quote, "pushing and inspiring our kids" and "teaching them to believe in themselves."
The 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards are hosted by the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with three national cultural agencies.