U.S. first lady Melania Trump spoke to thousands of Liberty University students gathered at convocation on Wednesday to share her “Be Best” initiative on the opioid crisis that “has truly taken a hold of our country,” encouraging students to change the world.
Trump encouraged the young adults at Liberty to unite in helping children of all ages in fighting opioid abuse.
“What has struck me with each visit is how this epidemic has touched so many people,” Trump expressed her experience since taking up the goal in helping fight the opioid abuse, attending several hospitals and schools, where she has shared her initiative.
The first lady shared statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2017 that showed there were more than 72,000 deaths to opioid overdose, which is more than any other year on record — 103 people in the U.S. die each day due to the opioid abuse.
Trump’s main focus with the opioid crisis is neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), where babies experience withdrawal from drugs they were exposed to in the womb — the first lady has gone to hospitals to visit mothers and children suffer from the opioid crisis.
As the students are entering into a “critical stage” of their lives as they begin living on their own, paying bills, managing homework and jobs, and soon to have families of their own, the first lady said she imagines that some of them may be faced with drugs at one point in their life.
“I know college is a time to wield your independence,” Trump said. “… I’m here to remind you that some of those decisions, though they seem minor at the time, could negatively impact you for the rest of your lives.”
“I have learned that many people who become addicted to drugs are too ashamed to ask for help. I have also learned that addiction is a disease, and like any illness, people need and deserve treatment. We must commitment to removing the stigma of shame that comes with addiction and helping change public opinion, so that people find evidence-based treatment before it’s too late.”
Trump encouraged students to “be brave enough to ask” if someone needs help “or strong enough to stand with them as they fight through the disease.”
“I believe in the power of all of you. 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 all succeeded.”
“Think of this as a human story, an opportunity to save lives,” Trump said, encouraging the students to change the world in opioid and drug abuse.
The first lady sits down with Eric Bolling
The first lady then sat down with conservative political commentator Eric Bolling to discuss her “Be Best” initiative.
Bolling applauded the first lady for the “empathy and compassion” she has toward the issue of the opioid crisis.
Trump explained that there is an importance to educate the next generation on how dangerous the drugs can have a long-term effect in one’s life.
“I hope that we can end this terrible epidemic that’s going on in the United States.”
Bolling asked how the first lady would like to see the media change in their coverage of her “Be Best” initiative — responding, Trump said she would like the media to focus more on what she’s doing in trying to spread awareness.
“I’m here to shine the light on important stuff .. the next generation, our children.”
As previously reported by IJR Red, Trump has recently reiterated her commitment to her initiative, despite her critics, explaining that she remains “committed to tackling this topic because it will provide a better world for our children” — adding that she uses the attacks from critics as motivation to bring about awareness.
“I think they look fantastic,” Trump said. “… You’re all very welcome to visit the White House, the People’s House.”
Trump answers Liberty University students’ questions on the opioid crisis
Trump took questions from a few students who were attending the convocation.
One Liberty student, Christian, asked what the first lady’s advice would be to other mothers about opioid and drug abuse.
“I think the education is the most important and talk with the children … [it’s] very important to stay on top of them, so they don’t go in the wrong direction. That can happen very quickly.”
As a mother herself of Barron Trump, the first lady said that she discusses with her son what is right and wrong and tells him to “love yourself more than you love drugs.”
Responding to another student’s, Alex, question about showing more compassion toward those fighting addictions, Trump said: “We need to support people who are addicted and to get rid of [the] stigma that comes with opioid addiction. We need to be there for them … to encourage them and see in themselves their positive character.”
Watch the video below:
Trump’s appearance at Liberty University was to share her “Be Best” initiative while encouraging the students to make a difference in the world in fighting against the opioid crisis by raising awareness and removing the stigma.