Melania Trump rolls out 'Be Best' initiative

WASHINGTON — Hours after President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Monday to denigrate the special counsel's investigation as a "Phony Witch Hunt" and the Iran deal as a "MESS," Melania Trump stepped into the Rose Garden and said she would focus her official effort as first lady on teaching children to put kindness first in their lives, particularly on social media.

In a speech delivered in front of her husband, Vice President Mike Pence, at least five Cabinet secretaries and other senior officials, Melania Trump unveiled a program called "Be Best," which she said would tackle opioid abuse, social media pressures and mental health issues among young people.

"Children deserve every opportunity to enjoy their innocence," Trump said.

Like the first lady herself, the full details of the plan were mysterious. Trump's program will primarily repackage projects that already exist, including an initiative by the National Safety Council to encourage people to be proactive with talking to their doctors about opioid abuse, and guidelines distributed by the Federal Trade Commission on children's social media activity.

Trump's staff plans to continue to solicit ideas from places the first lady has visited, including a West Virginia clinic that treats infants born with opioid addiction and a Michigan school where students participate in a program to stress the importance of emotional intelligence and kindness.

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, has been a help briefing Trump on the opioid crisis, a White House official said.

"We can and should teach children the importance of social and self-awareness, positive relationship skills and responsible decision making," Trump said. "Let us teach our children the difference between right and wrong, and encourage them to be best in their individual paths in life."

Recent first ladies have poured their efforts into focused programs. But Trump has not narrowed her interests down to one issue and is instead broadly focused on helping children.

"There are too many critical issues facing children today for her to choose just one," her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, said in an email about the first lady's plans. "She wants to use her platform as first lady to help as many children as she can."

Donald Trump appeared pleased. "That was truly a beautiful and heartfelt speech," he said in the Rose Garden after Melania Trump spoke.


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