Helping Children ‘Be Best’ Is Melania Trump’s Signature Initiative As First Lady

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WASHINGTON — Not long before before Mother’s Day the First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump, invited a few dozen children with their families to join Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, members of the administration, and members of Congress to the White House to witness the launch of her Be Best initiative. Ribbon laced baskets of cookies and a military quartet greeted guests that mingled before settling into their Rose Garden seats.

The ceremony began with a video presentation explaining the psychology behind Mrs. Trump’s updated initiative on childhood well-being. In the film the First Lady’s motherly spirit of listening, cuddling, and playfulness was shown to engage children from around the country.

As the video concluded a White House door opened, and President Donald Trump walked into the Rose Garden to welcome guests and formally introduce his wife while those gathered stood and cheered.

Mrs. Trump began her remarks by saying:  “As a mother and as First Lady, it concerns me that in today’s fast-paced world, children can be less prepared to express or manage their emotions and often times turn to forums of destructive or addictive behavior, such as bullying, drug addiction, or even suicide. It remains our generation’s moral imperative to take responsibility and help our children manage the many issues they are facing today.”

“Be Best is an awareness campaign dedicated to the most valuable and fragile among us — our children,” Mrs. Trump said. “By listening to their concerns adults can provide the support and tools they need to grow up, to be happy and productive adults ready and able to contribute positively to society and global communities.”

The soft-spoken First Lady continued:  “As children travel their individual paths in life it’s the responsibility of adults to help them develop a sense of well-being socially, emotionally, and physically by instilling feelings of mutual respect, compassion, and self-esteem.”

Mistakes play a role in development, she said:  “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.”

Remarkable young children were recognized for their courageous efforts to make our society a more gentle place. From the podium Mrs. Trump asked 12-year-old Christian Bucks from York, Pennsylvania to stand. She explained how a few years ago Christian introduced the “Buddy Bench” to his school. The dedicated bench is a physical and emotional landmark where kids can safely develop new friendships. Christian’s initiative has been so well received that Buddy Benches are now in school playgrounds in all 50 states and handful of countries around the world.

For participating in a Viking Huddle Class students from Orchard Lake Middle School in Michigan were also asked to stand. Huddle Classes teach social-emotional learning by inspiring acts of inclusion, kindness, and mutual respect. 

Kalani Goldberg, an 8th grader from Arizona, was also honored by the First Lady. Representing the brave face of children coping with cyber-bullying, Kalani posted a video to her social media account sharing the challenges she has 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.”

The online statement prompted people who watched it to reach out to offer support.

Mrs. Trump also spoke during the event Monday of two compassionate institutions that recognize the challenges of even the littlest children. Lily’s Place is the nation’s first nonprofit recovery center for infants born addicted to opiates. By prioritizing family care this West Virginia center gives infants an opportunity to thrive. Likewise, representatives from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital were honored for ongoing research on opioid neonatal abstinence syndrome.

While acting as First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Trump promises to Be Best at championing the many successful programs in existence that teach the tools and skills for emotional, social, and physical well-being.  By shining a spotlight on the people, organizations, and programs across the country that are helping children overcome the many problems they’re facing as they grow up, she hopes adults, schools, and communities will be inspired to design or replicate programs that effect positive change.

Before calling on the president to proclaim May 7th Be Best Day, Mrs. Trump asked all Americans to “encourage our children to dream big, think big, and do all they can to Be Best in everything they do,” and she asked that the rest of us join her in “providing support and guidance to children providing a blueprint for the next generation.”

After the Be Best proclamation was signed by the president, the communications director for the Office of the First Lady issued a press release explaining opposition media is suggesting Mrs. Trump plagiarized portions of her Be Best initiative by relying on information included in an educational booklet produced in 2009 by the Federal Trade Commission called Talking with Kids About Being Online. The press spokesman said the First Lady’s office agreed to re-brand and distribute that booklet to amplify the positive messages within and to use it as a tool to broaden her campaign to encourage people and organizations to develop or replicate programs that serve all children.

Yes, there are roses in the Rose Garden. Photo by Diane Kilgore.

President Donald Trump speaks about wife Melania’s ‘Be Best’ initiative. Photo by Diane Kilgore.

Diane Kilgore takes a turn behind the lectern at the White House.