Memphis teens honored at The White House

Memphis teens honored at The White House

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Memphis teen shared the stage with First Lady Michelle Obama on Monday. She is one of 12 young people from across the country who will accept the 2014 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award on behalf of the after-school programs that have changed their lives.

Memphis' New Ballet Ensemble and School (NBE) is among the recipients. The award was accepted on behalf of the organization by its founder and CEO, Katie Smythe, and Briana Brown, a 17-year-old dancer who has been involved with the program for 10 years. Brown was excited to hear the good news on Sunday.

You can watch her heart-warming reaction here.

New Ballet Ensemble and School is receiving an award that recognizes the country's best creative youth development programs for "using engagement in the arts and the humanities to increase academic achievement, graduation rates, and college enrollment."

They were chosen from a pool of more than 350 nominations and 50 finalists.

This is the first time a program from Tennessee has been honored with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award.

"It is such an honor to be included among these awardees," says Smythe in a press release to WMC Action News 5. "I hope that news of this award will embolden more young Memphians to pursue their dreams, believing in themselves as they embrace hard work.

"You can't help but be moved by these kids, who show us the transformative power of the arts and humanities," said Rachel Goslins, executive director of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in a press release to WMC Action News 5. "They are staying in school longer, getting better grades, graduating from high school and going on to college at significantly higher rates than their peers. And they're building skills that will last them a lifetime."

In addition to their recognition at the White House, New Ballet Ensemble and School will receive $10,000 and a year of communications and capacity-building support from the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

For more information about the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, visit www.pcah.gov.

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