After well over a year in the White House, Melania Trump announced her first formal agenda as first lady on Monday afternoon in the Rose Garden.
The children-focused initiative is called Be Best, and consists of three pillars: wellbeing, social media, and opioid abuse.
Her spokesperson Stephanie Grisham put it this way: “There are too many critical issues facing children today for her to choose just one,” she told the New York Times in an email. “She wants to use her platform as first lady to help as many children as she can.”
In her speech on Monday, Melania emphasized teaching children "the importance of all aspects of their wellbeing, which includes social, emotional, and physical health."
The social media part of the initiative will focus on teaching kids to use the internet in "positive ways." As an example of championing kids' wellbeing, the first lady brought up a program called the Buddy Bench, which she said "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." Introduced by a second-grader at his elementary school, she said there's now at least one in all 50 states.
Melania spoke about how deeply affected she has been after visiting clinics that treat children who suffer from opioid addiction. In February, she visited the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to learn about the opioid epidemic in Ohio, and back in October she visited a West Virginia clinic that treats infants born with opioid addiction where she pledged to "give a voice" to families facing addiction. Through Be Best, she promised to "support the families and children affected by this crisis, bring attention to neonatal abstinence syndrome, and help educate parents on the importance of healthy pregnancies."
The program is coming under fire not only for a lack of detail, but for a cyberbullying booklet that seems to have been copied from an Obama-era Federal Trade Commission document.
We reached out to the White House for more details on Be Best.
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