Find the full issue of this month’s Education Reporter here.
Melania Trump hosted a televised tour of White House Christmas decorations in late November. Some Christmas trees featured ornaments from her “Be Best” initiative that she launched in May. Be Best has three goals for children that involve their overall well-being, their activities on social media, and ways they might be affected by the opioid crisis.
Melania Trump says of the initiative, “The mission of Be Best is to focus on some of the major issues facing children today, with the goal of encouraging children to Be Best in their individual paths, while also teaching them the importance of social, emotional, and physical health. Be Best will concentrate on three main pillars: well-being, social media use, and opioid abuse.” She continues, “Be Best will champion the many successful well- being programs that provide children with the tools and skills required for emotional, social, and physical health. The campaign will also promote established organizations, programs, and people who are helping children overcome some of the issues they face growing up in the modern world.”
In November, Mrs. Trump spoke at a Townhall meeting at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. She is friends with Liberty’s President Jerry Falwell, Jr. and his wife, Becki Falwell. Other speakers at Liberty University that day included Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Kirstjen Nielsen. Both agencies are trying to alleviate the opioid crisis, and to educate and provide services to help those affected by it.
The First Lady shared the stage with Eric Bolling, the former Fox News host who lost his nineteen-year-old son to an opioid overdose in 2017. Bolling has stated that his teenage son’s death involved purchasing Xanax that was laced with fentanyl “on the street.” It should be noted that such illegal drugs are flooding over unprotected sections of our southern border. By July 31, 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) had seized over 1,300 pounds of fentanyl, which represents almost double 2017’s total of 1,194 pounds for the entire year. (CPB.org)
The White House has declared opioid addiction a national health emer- gency. It is causing fiscal problems for states and municipalities, and personal problems within families.
Melania Trump told Liberty University students, “I believe that as our next generation, you have the potential to not just reduce, but eliminate the statistics I mentioned earlier.” Trump suggested that it is desirable to go beyond the statistics of the epidemic and instead “think of this as a human story and an opportunity to save lives.” She said, “While you may never personally become addicted, the chances of you knowing someone who struggles with it are very high.” She continued, “And if you, or someone you know needs help, you need to be brave enough to ask, or strong enough to stand with them as they fight through the disease.”
Mrs. Trump said, “It is my hope that what we discussed today will save lives in the future and help prevent our children from falling victim to drug dependence. As a mother and as First Lady, I want to do everything I can to expose the serious dangers of opioid and drug addiction and provide opportunities for youth to become leaders in ending this crisis.” (WhiteHouse.gov, 11-28-18)
Mrs. Trump also took questions from the audience.
During the same time period that opioid drug addiction has become a national emergency, many states are short-sightedly throwing fuel on a fire by seeing fit to legalize marijuana. Marijuana has been shown to not only be addictive but it also damages brain development, especially in younger people.
Managing Social Media
A pivotal aspect of Mrs. Trump’s Be Best campaign centers around social media use. Children and young adults are often embarrassed, shamed, or even bullied by others on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. There have even been instances of suicide prompted by online shaming and bullying.
President and Mrs. Trump have first-hand experience with the online bullying of children; their son Barron has been the focus of several attacks by adult, so-called celebrities and others. Barron Trump is twelve years old and won’t be 13 until March of 2019.
The White House says:
When children learn positive online behaviors early-on, social media can be used in productive ways and can effect positive change. Mrs. Trump believes that children should be both seen and heard, and it is our responsibility as adults to educate and reinforce to them that when they are using their voices—whether verbally or online—they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion.
Mrs. Trump suggests parents read the Federal Trade Commission booklet “Talking with Kids about Being Online” to find ways that will help their children safely navigate the internet.
A Beautiful Christmas Tour
At the end of November, Melania Trump hosted a tour of the White House. Her chosen theme for 2018 decorations was “American Treasures.” She showed rooms full of Christmas trees, mantle displays, and a huge gingerbread scene depicting the White House, the Capitol, and the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. White House chefs used 225 pounds of dough, 25 pounds of chocolate, and 20 pounds of white icing to create the scene.
Mrs. Trump planned the decorations and dozens of volunteers from across the nation helped White House staff carry out her vision.
More than 30,000 members of the public were expected to tour the White House in December. Being shown the decorations by a gracious First Lady was a treat for those unable to be there in person.
In the Red Room, trees featured “Be Best” ornaments to go along with Mrs. Trump’s chosen initiative for children.
In the East Wing, the Gold Star Family tree was decorated by families of those who lost their lives while serving in the military. There was also a station for guests to send electronic messages to their military family members on duty in the U.S. or abroad.
Find the full issue of this month’s Education Reporter here.