The First Lady celebrated the 10th anniversary of the National Design Awards at the White House today. The awards are part of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and recognize design excellence, innovation and public impact. The awards were launched at the White House in 2000 as an official project of the White House Millennium Council. Earlier in the day, the Cooper-Hewitt celebrated the awards with free public programs exploring design. The programs were moderated by White House officials, and were held at museums around the Mall.
Afterwards, the First Lady hosted a ceremony for the winners and finalists of the 2009 awards. In her remarks
, the First Lady praised the recipients for their innovative ideas that will help shape the future. But she noted that education is essential so that our next generations will be able to solve the great challenges of the future:
That's why the President has made such a strong commitment to ensuring access to high-quality education for all children, particularly in math and science.
And today the President and Secretary Duncan are announcing the "Race to the Top," which is a competitive grant to spur education reform across the country and encourage educators and leaders to embrace innovative approaches to teaching and to learning.
As part of the Recovery Act, Congress has allotted more than $4 billion for this competition – funding that'll be used for competitive grants to states, school districts, and non-profit partners that are most successful at raising standards, improving student learning, and turning around struggling schools. That is very exciting.
But when it comes to innovation, you all know full well that an educational foundation is only part of the equation, right; that in order for creativity to flourish and imagination to take hold we also need to expose our children to the arts from a very young age.
The First Lady thanked participants for serving as inspiration for the next generation, and going out into the community to let kids know that they too can be great designers:
And as First Lady, I have spent a lot of time trying to break down barriers that too often exist between major cultural establishments and the people in their immediate communities.
So we've been sending a lot of role models out there in the far reaches of this city and then inviting kids to come back here to the White House. That's been a big part of the messages of every single event that we've done here at the White House. These kids who are living just inches away from power and prestige and fortune and fame, we want those kids to know that they belong here, too. We want them to know that they belong here in the White House and in the museums, and in libraries, and laboratories all over this country.
And I want to thank you all today for helping carry that mission out by going out today into the community and making sure that kids know that they belong on the cutting edge of design just the same; that they belong in the world of discovery and science, reminding them that they belong in the presence of great art and beauty; that it is theirs just as much as anyone's in this nation.
And earlier today you shared your visions, your ideas, your experiences and expertise by leading workshops at Smithsonian locations across Washington D.C. And I am grateful to all of you for taking the time to make that happen. From type fonts to technology, from silks and satins to sustainability – you brought science to life at these seminars. And I've heard glowing reviews about them, and I hope you found them fun, as well.