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First Lady Melania Trump spoke to a room of over 500 youth this morning at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) Leadership Forum.  The Forum is a four day event that mentors youth on how to be leaders within their communities.  The training focuses on substance abuse prevention and ensuring that these young adults are given proper skills and tools to help make a difference among their peers.

Upon arrival at the convention, Mrs. Trump was greeted by CADCA’s Chairman and CEO, General Arthur Dean, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director, Jim Carroll.  The First Lady spoke to attendees about the importance of their training sessions and the power of their individual voices.

Following her remarks, the First Lady presented awards to recipients of CADCA’s “Agent of Change” and “Mentorship and Legacy” awards.

“It was inspiring to see first-hand the strength and spirit of these youth leaders during my visit this morning,” said First Lady Melania Trump.  “The positive impact they can and will have on their peers is what will ultimately produce the change we want to see within our communities.  Thank you for allowing me to come speak with you and see the impressive work that is happening.”

In line with her Be Best campaign, Mrs. Trump then traveled to the Office of National Drug Control Policy and received an in-depth policy briefing on the nation’s opioid epidemic and all that ONDCP and its inter-agency partners are doing to combat the crisis.  The briefing included details on the latest fentanyl bust, and how the Trump Administration is working to lower the rates of drug trafficking – including how the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is working to improve the targeting and detection of synthetic drugs.  Mrs. Trump also participated in a conversation about current programs and treatment facilities available to young mothers and children suffering from substance abuse. The briefing also focused on Drug-Free Communities (DFCs) that teach leadership and prevention methods to youth across the country.

“I learned a lot from today’s briefing, and commend all that the ONDCP is doing around this vital issue,” said First Lady Melania Trump.  “It is clear there is still much work to be done.  With the increased amounts of drug and tobacco products available to our children, we need to continue educating parents and communities about the dangerous results that come with substance abuse.  Thank you to Director Carroll and the many experts who took the time to participate in today’s briefing.”

Full Remarks Below

Thank you Director Carroll and General Dean.  Good morning, everyone!  It is great to be here and to take part in this important youth leadership conference.

I want to start by saying thank you to each of you for actively deciding to get involved and choosing to step up and be part of the solution.  As you know, our nation is facing an opioid crisis.  Part of my Be Best campaign focuses on understanding the harmful effects of opioid abuse on our children, and finding opportunities to help families and young mothers who have been affected by this very real problem.

In my time as First Lady, I have held babies suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome – a result of opioid addiction in pregnant mothers.  I have met with mothers like Betty Henderson, who lost their children to drug abuse.  And on Tuesday night, I was honored to have Ashley Evans join me at the State of the Union Address.  Ashley suffered from opioid and substance abuse for most of her life but found help through Brigid’s Path, a medical care facility in Ohio. This year, she is celebrating one year and one month in recovery, and next week, she will be reunited with her daughter.

Recovery is possible.  It is because of programs and organizations like Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America or Brigid’s Path that offer care, resources, and essential tools that can save lives and teach positive and life-saving ideas to those in need. These programs are so vital to our nation and within our communities.

Later today, I am visiting the Office of National Drug Control Policy to hear about the latest efforts in building a stronger and healthier society for our children.  The Office of National Drug Control Policy currently supports over 700 community coalitions through its Drug-Free Communities Support Program and I am so excited to learn more about what they are doing to keep our children and communities safe.

I want to thank all the government leaders, volunteer trainers, and experts in the field who are taking time to talk with our youth this week, and hope this time has provided you with great knowledge and motivation that you can take with you when you leave.  What you are learning in these workshops are vital tools that will help make a difference in our nation and our world.  You are our greatest agents for change.  Through your voices, you have the power to influence, transform, and lead your communities from within.  You can lead by example every day among your peers, your friends, your classmates, and your teammates.

I am honored to present awards today to some people who have done just that.  Their dedication to educating others on the importance of preventing substance use is inspiring and I applaud their commitment to nurturing and cultivating youth wherever they go.  They are a testament to the power of one’s voice.  Thank you to each of you for your devotion to this cause, I know you have touched many lives through your work.

Thank you again for having me here and may God Bless the United States of America.