Kids Chant USA! USA! for Melania Trump at SADD Kids and Teens Conference

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AP
Washington, DC

Hundreds of kids and teens began chanting “USA! USA!” as First Lady Melania Trump concluded a speech Sunday night at the annual Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) in Virginia.

The middle and high school kids were not told ahead of time that the first lady would be speaking to them Sunday night and when it was first announced the crowd began cheering. They cheered and screamed again when she first came on stage.

Mrs. Trump encouraged the approximately 450 children and teens to respect and look out for one another in the spirit of her ‘Be Best’ campaign.

Before taking the stage to speak with the ballroom filled with hundreds of kids and teens, the first lady spent time with members of the SADD National Student Leadership Council, according to the first lady’s office. They worked together to make blankets to give away to teen shelter Second Story. She also spent time listening to personal stories and experiences of several students.

Mrs. Trump emphasized the “well-being of children” pillar of her official “Be Best” platform as she spoke to the kids. Be Best was first unveiled in a May 7 White House Rose Garden ceremony with an audience full of children in Be Best t-shirts. 

The first lady told the group that she was “inspired” when she first heard of SADD and the conference.

“As a mother of a young son, I think youth leadership programs for children can be such a positive influence for the future,” she said.

The first lady referenced her Be Best campaign and reinforced her strong belief that “it is the job of adults to provide you with the tools you need to become the best you can be in all areas of life.”

She continued:

Kindness, compassion, and positivity are very important traits in life. It is far easier to say nothing than it is to speak words of kindness. It is easier to judge quickly than to take time to understand. It is often easier to see a glass half-empty rather than half full.

The first lady urged the kids, “you have the power to be the positive force in so many people’s lives. Show respect to each other. Treat your community like your family, and look out for one another.”

As the first lady concluded her speech the ballroom filled with kids and teens began cheering and then chanting “USA, USA, USA.” She smiled and waved to the kids before leaving the stage to return to the White House.

SADD was originally formed to “help young people say “No” to drinking and driving,” according to the organization’s website. The group expanded its mission around 1997 and changed the acronym to reflect the new mission. The organization’s main focus continued to be traffic safety as vehicle crashes remain the number one killer of teens. The expanded focus includes “providing tools and prevention strategies that also address substance abuse and personal health and safety.”

The SADD conference launched Sunday and will continue over the course of four days. Students will be trained on becoming “leaders in encouraging their peers and those in their communities to live drug-free lives,” according to the first lady’s office. 

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana 

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