Melania Trump chairs White House meeting on youth programs

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Melania Trump took a deep dive into the federal bureaucracy Monday at a briefing on government youth programs as she looks for ways to promote her “Be Best” initiative.

“My focus has and always will be on our children, the next generation,” the first lady said as opened a meeting of the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs. “They’re our future doctors, nurses, firefighters, scientists, teachers, chefs, generals, pilots, designers, reporters and missionaries, just to name a few.”

The first lady noted her domestic and international travels during the past year to promote “Be Best,” which focuses on child well-being , online safety and avoiding drugs . The initiative is nearing its one-year mark. Mrs. Trump told representatives of nearly 20 departments and agencies, including five Cabinet secretaries, that she wants to learn more about government programs and “how we can work together to continue creating more opportunities to help and empower our children.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who chairs the group, said Mrs. Trump’s initiative is “timely and has certainly influenced many of the plans and objectives of this working group.”

Azar went on to describe resources on a government website that can help people recognize opioid abuse in young adults. The site also has information on the risks of tobacco and e-cigarettes, he said.

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos pushed a proposal for billions in federal tax credits for people who donate to groups that offer scholarships to help students attend private schools, apprenticeships and other educational programs.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson spoke about his department’s literacy programs.

The first lady learned that the National Institutes of Health is preparing to enroll up to 10,000 pregnant women, including some who are addicted to drugs, in a healthy brain and child development study and follow them and their children for 10 years.

And the Federal Emergency Management Agency has produced an old-fashioned card game to help teach children how to stay safe and help others during an emergency.

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Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

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