Watch: Melania Trump launches ‘BE BEST’ children’s initiatives [video + transcript]
First Lady Melania Trump announced Monday a set of initiatives focused on the well-being of children.
“As has been evidenced by the many events Mrs. Trump has participated in during her time as first lady, her focus will be the overall well-being of children. Something unique though: She has not narrowed her platform down to just one topic as has been done in the past,” Grisham said. “Mrs. Trump wishes to help the next generation by creating change through awareness on a variety of issues that affect children.”
A press event is being held in the Rose Garden of the White House where the first lady will lay out her platform that is expected to include several initiatives on cyber-bullying, the effects of opioid abuse on children, and internet safety.
MRS. TRUMP: Thank you. Good afternoon. Welcome to the White House. As a mother and as First Lady, it concerns me that in today’s fast-paced and ever-connected world, children can be less prepared to express or manage their emotions and oftentimes turn to forums of destructive or addictive behavior, such as bullying, drug addiction or even suicide.
I feel strongly that, as adults, we can and should be best at educating our children about the importance of a healthy and balanced life.
So today, I’m very excited to announce BE BEST, an awareness campaign dedicated to the most valuable and fragile among us –-our children. (Applause.)
There is one goal to BE BEST — and that is to educate children about the many issues they are facing today. If we truly listen to what our kids have to say, whether it be their concerns or ideas, adults can provide them the support and tools they need to grow up to be happy and productive adults who contribute positively to society and their global communities.
At the same time, children deserve every opportunity to enjoy their innocence. Every child should know it is safe to make mistakes and that there are supportive adults and friends nearby to catch them if they fall. We also need to be mindful that they should learn to trust in themselves and their own emotions.
I believe our responsibility lies in the critical time before a child reaches adulthood. Let us teach children the importance of all aspects of their wellbeing, which includes social, emotional, and physical health.
There are too many critical issues facing children today, so the three main pillars of BE BEST will include wellbeing, social media use, and opioid abuse.
Together, I believe we should strive to provide kids with the tools they need to cultivate their social and emotional health.
We can and should teach children the importance of social and self-awareness, positive relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
Once a child understands these vital skills, they will be able to communicate openly with one another and instill positive feelings of mutual respect, compassion, and self-esteem.
Let us teach our children the difference between right and wrong, and encourage them to be best in their individual paths in life.
Take, for example, Christian Bucks, a young man from York, Pennsylvania who is here with us today. When he was in second grade, Christian introduced the “Buddy Bench” at his elementary school to address loneliness and help other kids build new friendships. The Buddy Bench allows classmates to connect during recess and helps ensure that no student feels lonely. If a child sits on the bench, it signals other students to come over and ask them to play.
Christian’s school and community embraced the Buddy Bench, and today, at least one can be found in all 50 states.
Thank you, Christian, for your commitment to kindness. You should be very proud of your work, which is — I know has helped countless children. (Applause.) Please, stand up. Bravo.
I’d also like to talk about Orchard Lake Middle School in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan. I visited the school in October as part of National Bullying Prevention Month to speak to its students about the importance of being kind.
While I was there, I visited their Viking Huddle Class, which focuses on social emotional learning and teaches lessons about respecting others, inclusion, and being kind.
While I was there, I visited their Viking Huddle class, which focuses on social-emotional learning and teaches lessons about respecting others, inclusion, and being kind. As part of BE BEST, I plan to highlight ideas and programs such as Buddy Bench and the Viking Huddle class, with the hope that other schools or community groups will be inspired to replace [replicate] their efforts and take steps to improve the wellbeing of our children. We have invited some of the Viking Huddle class here today.
Thank you all for being and taking time here with us in the White House. (Applause.)
As we all know, social media can be both positively and negatively affect on our children. But too often, it is used in negative ways. When children learn positive online behaviors early-on, social media can be used in productive ways and can affect positive change.
I do believe that children should be both seen and heard, and it is our responsibility as adults to educate and remind them that when they are using their voices, whether verbally or online, they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion.
As an example, Kalani Goldberg, an 8th grade student from Arizona posted a video to her social media account to share the challenges she faced from bullies. In the video she said, “Every day, you are hurting me. Every day, you are hurting each other. So please stop. Stop hurting me.”
Kalani and her family have joined us here today, and I am happy to report that since posting her video, many have watched it and, most importantly, people have reached out to offer support and kindness. Thank you, Kalani, for being brave enough to share your story, and also for using your experience to bring positive change. Please stand up, Kalani. (Applause.)
I first learned about the real consequences of our nation’s opioid epidemic during my husband’s campaign. Since then, I have met with and learned from many people who have been affected by this true crisis. In October, I travelled to West Virginia to tour Lily’s Place, the nation’s first nonprofit infant recovery center.
Lily’s Place puts a priority on the whole family so that infants born dependent on drugs are given the best opportunity to thrive. They have been successful in this endeavor because parents are also given the support and tools needed to recover and succeed. Lily’s Place is a testament to the extraordinary work that everyday people can do when they put their mind to it.
I will use BE BEST to bring attention to programs such as these in order to encourage conversation and replication.
In February, I went to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio and a panel of doctors briefed me on the devastating effects that opioids are having, but also their important research on neonatal abstinence syndrome.
I am pleased to say that representatives from both Lily’s Place and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital are here today. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you for being here, and thank you for your heroic work on behalf of children.
I want to thank the many people I have met with and learned from over the past year while researching these vital topics on behalf of children.
This includes the Cabinet Secretaries who have joined us here today, as well as representatives from Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Snap, Amazon, National Safety Council, and so many more.
I would like to thank the President, the Vice President, Karen Pence, and other members of the administration, as well as the members of Congress who are here today. I am honored to have you all with me, and I look forward to working together on the behalf of children in the coming years.
In my time as First Lady of the United States, I will make every effort to be best at championing the many successful well-being programs in existence today that teach the tools and skills for emotional, social, and physical well-being.
I will also work to shine a spotlight on the people, organizations, and programs across the country that are helping children overcome the many issues they’re facing as they grow up.
I will continue speaking with leaders in the technology industry about children’s online habits and raising awareness around the importance of positive behaviors. I will continue to work with those who are fighting drug addiction.
And most importantly, I will continue to travel and speak to children directly about both their victories and difficult realities they face.
My hope is that together, we can be best at helping children and families find effective ways to educate themselves and support each other.
I am asking you all to join me in providing support and guidance to our children so that we can make a real difference. How we raise and educate our children on a variety of topics will provide the blueprint for the next generation.
Together, let’s encourage children to dream big, think big, and do all they can to be best in everything that they do.
Thank you all for being here today. God bless you, your families, our children, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
And now, it is my pleasure to call my husband to the stage to sign a proclamation calling today, May 7, BE BEST Day.
Mr. President? (Laughter and applause.)