First lady Melania Trump on Tuesday celebrated the first anniversary of her “Be Best” initiative and promised new efforts to address drug abuse in the upcoming year.
“As a mother and first lady it concerns me that today’s fast-paced and ever-connected world can make children less prepared to manage their emotions, causing them to turn to forms of destructive actions, such as bullying, unhealthy habits, risky online behavior, drug abuse, and addiction, or even suicide,” she said during the Rose Garden event, according to ABC.
“One year ago today, I launched Be Best, an awareness campaign dedicated to the children of this country and all over the world.”
Year Two of the effort will expand from her focus on babies born to addicted mothers to address drug abuse — particularly opioid abuse — among children of all ages and young mothers.
The “Be Best” pillar covering social media use will add online safety to existing efforts to reduce cyberbullying and promote good citizenship online, Fox News reported.
“My hope is that together we can be the best at helping children and families find effective ways to educate themselves and become part of the solution to so many problems and issues,” the first lady said.
“I ask you again to join me in my commitment to promoting values such as encouragement, kindness, compassion, healthy living, online safety and respect in our children,” first lady Melania Trump says while speaking at her “Be Best” anniversary celebration https://t.co/AavOd95ws5 pic.twitter.com/nqgYTfd2nN
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) May 7, 2019
“I ask you again to join me in my commitment to promoting values such as encouragement, kindness, compassion, healthy living, online safety and respect in our children,” she said.
President Donald Trump attended the event, but did not have a speaking role.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 7, 2019
During Melania Trump’s remarks, she noted that as part of “Be Best,” she visited 15 states and nine countries. During her trips, which have included multiple visits to schools and hospitals, she has worked with the departments of education and health and human services, she said.
She said that in the coming year, she will be making a solo international trip, but did not disclose the location.
The trip will take place some time in the fall, she said, according to CNN.
In October 2018, the first lady promoted “Be Best” during a trip to Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt.
“I’m ready for all of the work that is still to be done,” she said in a video that accompanied her remarks.
During the event, she was joined by former Fox News host Eric Bolling, who has joined the first lady in her efforts to fight opioid abuse.
“The most important and accomplished First Lady in American history, full stop.” pic.twitter.com/fsfnZbDVDN
— BlazeTV (@BlazeTV) May 7, 2019
During a March visit to Las Vegas, Melania Trump said the opioid epidemic deserves more media attention than it has received.
“I think it should be on every media and the front pages of the newspaper, and I’m sure a lot of people would follow and go home and talk with the children and educate them, so they are responsible adults and they show them how drugs can be dangerous,” she said, according to Fox News.
“I’d also like to take a moment to challenge the media to cover this very real issue as often as possible. In 2017, we lost at least 72,000 Americans to overdoses — that’s 197 lost American lives per day – more than eight lost lives per hour. I challenge the press to devote as much time to the lives lost – and the potential lives that could be saved – by dedicating the same amount of coverage that you do to idle gossip or trivial stories,” she said, according to a transcript of her comments released by the White House.
“When we see breaking news on TV, or the front pages of newspapers – it is my hope that it can be about how many lives we were able to save through education and honest dialogue. We all have a real opportunity to help this country save lives, and I know these are the real issues that people care about,” she said
The first lady sought to paint a picture of the vast reach of the opioid crisis
“The United States is by far the largest consumer of opioids, using more pills per person than any other country in the world. In fact, overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999 and now account for the majority of fatal drug overdoses,” she said.
“These overdoses are being driven by a huge increase in addiction to prescription painkillers, heroin and now fentanyl. No part of our society or our country has been spared from the deadly disease of drug addiction.
“As the statistics very clearly demonstrate, it is the worst drug crisis in American history,” she added.
Just as the crisis hides in plain sight among friends and neighbors, so, too, does the solution, she said.
“I have said this before — but it bears repeating: While you may never personally become addicted, the chances of you knowing someone who struggles with it are high,” she said. “Please educate yourselves so you know the signs of addiction, and also feel secure enough to talk about it, and keep talking about it until help arrives.”
“If even one of you leaves here today and talks to a friend or family member about the potential to end this crisis, then we have succeeded,” she said.
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