Former First Lady Laura Bush to Address Economic Club March 16 2010

BENTON HARBOR, MICH. — The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan will begin its spring session with former first lady Laura Bush. The member-only meeting will be held March 16 at the Mendel Center for Arts and Technology, Lake Michigan College, Benton Township, Mich.

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When Laura Bush became first lady, she understood the influence her role could have on the national and global issues she cared most about: education, health care and human rights. As she assumed the role in 2001, her hope was to bring about changes with little attention focused on her. But the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, thrust her into the limelight and she spent the weeks and months following offering advice to adults wanting to comfort children traumatized by the attacks. She reached out to the people of Afghanistan and discussed their plight during a radio address on Nov. 17, 2001. It was the first time a first lady had spoken in lieu of the president during the weekly addresses and more people became aware of the harsh repression Afghani women and children experienced under the Taliban.

On the educational front, this former teacher and librarian convened the Summit on Early Childhood Cognitive Development in 2001, gathering prominent scholars and educators to share research on the best ways for parents and caregivers to prepare children for lifelong learning. She also drew attention to programs in the U.S. that had proven to help youth avoid drug and alcohol use, early sexual activity and violence, and programs that highlighted the need for caring adult role models in children’s lives.

As first lady, Bush launched the first National Book Festival in Sept. 2001 – an event that now draws more than 100,000 book lovers to Washington, D.C. She also did extensive work to raise awareness for literacy issues around the world. Now she comes to Southwestern Michigan to share her own stories as a wife, mother of twins, leader in the White House and beyond.

Attendance at the Bush meeting is limited to The Economic Club members only. Meeting membership is closed for 2009-2010, however, individuals interested in joining The Club may add their names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses to a waiting list by visiting www.TheEconClub.com or calling (269) 982-6010. For more information about The Club, its speakers and membership options, visit the Club’s Web site.