Thursday, November 18, 2010

VSA Founder Jean Kennedy Smith Named Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Last month I presented a press release from VSA, an organization that focuses on disabled peoples involvement in the arts. I am glad to announce through another press release today directly from VSA that the founder of this organization will be honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. What a grand honor to be bestowed on someone with such vast experience in advocacy for the disabled. The release is as follows:

―Yesterday, President Barack Obama named Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, founder of VSA, the international organization on arts and disability, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Medal of Freedom is the country’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made great contributions to U.S. security or world peace, or made other cultural or significant accomplishments. President Obama will present the awards at a ceremony in early 2011.
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) November 18, 2010
“Ambassador Smith is a pioneer,” said Soula Antoniou, president of VSA. “Because of her work, students of all abilities today have opportunities to express themselves and learn through the arts. Doors are open for artists with disabilities, and their work is being celebrated for its quality.  

“On behalf of VSA, our advisory board of directors, artists, and the seven million people touched each year through our work, we congratulate Ambassador Smith on this well-deserved honor.”

Ambassador Smith founded VSA in 1974. For 46 years, she has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, which provides grants to promote awareness and advocacy in the field of intellectual disabilities. Her book, Chronicles of Courage: Very Special Artists, written in collaboration with George Plimpton, was published by Random House in April 1993. President Clinton named Smith U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, where she played a pivotal role in the peace process from 1993 to 1998. Ambassador Smith is the Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Kennedy Center.

A quick listing of some of the other recipients of this award include:
Sidney Poitier  
Maya Angelou
President Jimmy Carter
Rosa Parks
Yo-Yo Ma
Ansel Adams
Walter Cronkite
Edward R. Murrow
Fred Rogers
Martin Luther King Jr.

If you are interested in reading a more comprehensive list of those honored with this award you can visit the wikipedia site here. Please visit VSA here.

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