First Lady Laura Bush Visits Knoxville

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Knoxville (WVLT) - It's a startling statistic, but according to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, more than 104,000 youth are held in juvenile facilities on any given day.

But in an effort to reduce those numbers, First Lady Laura Bush is traveling throughout the nation concentrating her efforts on helping America's young people.

It was an event supporting republican candidate for U.S. senate, Bob Corker, but Laura Bush spoke about several qualities that a person needs to be a good leader, and one of those is supporting youth. That's what she's been doing for the past year through a new program called Helping America's Youth.

Helping young people reach their full potential - it's the goal of an initiative headed by First Lady Laura Bush, and it's catching on throughout the nation and now in Knoxville.

Mrs. Bush visited a session of Communications Through Art. It's a local program that provides at-risk students an opportunity to express themselves freely while being surrounded by a support group.

"Giving them a safe place to be, giving them interesting things to do, and then providing relationships with caring adults while they're here," Mrs. Bush said.

The adults help connect with the students on issues like family, school and community.

"I want to thank all the adults who come here to volunteer to work with these children to be a caring mentor for them, which is something we know all children need," Mrs. Bush said.

The program was started through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts through the Tennessee Commission on the Arts.

At a Tennessee Republican Party Reception in Knoxville, the First Lady elaborated on the program's success.

"All of these visits that I've done over the last year and a half led to a conference on Helping America's Youth last October and then to two regional conferences since then in Indianapolis and Denver," Mrs. Bush said.

At those conferences, the organization introduced an online community interactive guide.

"This guide helps adults learn more about the problems the youth in your own communities face and what local resources are available to address these problems," Mrs. Bush said.

This is a program you can tell Mrs. Bush is very passionate about. You can see the excitement in her face when she talks about it.