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First Lady Melania Trump's Visit to the Students Against Destructive Decisions National Conference

This evening, First Lady Melania Trump spoke at the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) National Conference. The conference is a 4-day training program where 500 middle and high school students learn how to become leaders in encouraging their peers and those in their communities to live drug-free lives. 

The First Lady was greeted by Rick Birt, President of SADD. Mrs. Trump met with the members of the SADD National Student Leadership Council and joined the students in making blankets for Second Story, a teen shelter. Mrs. Trump also listened to several students share personal stories and experiences, then delivered remarks at the annual conference. 

As part of her Be Best campaign, Mrs. Trump spoke on the importance of kindness, compassion, and positivity. "This is an incredible event for our youth," said First Lady Melania Trump. "It teaches students how to be empowered through positivity and to affect change in their communities. Thank you to Rick and his team for all they do in making these training sessions possible."

Previous Presidents who have met with SADD students include Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Mrs. Trump is the first of First Ladies to meet in-person with SADD students. 

Remarks below:

Thank you Dylan, and congratulations on being named student of the year. You should be proud of all that you have achieved, and I look forward to seeing what is next for you. 

Good evening, it is great to be here tonight to help open this wonderful conference.

When I first heard about Students Against Destructive Decisions and this conference, I was inspired. This organization is about empowering children and teens - each of you - and helping you become active in your own communities. As a mother of a young son, I think youth leadership programs for children can be such a positive influence for the future. It is a privilege to be with you tonight and speak to each of you about the power you have as leaders in your schools and communities. 

A couple weeks ago, I announced my campaign, Be Best. One of the largest pillars of my campaign is the well-being of children. I feel very strongly 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. That is why I am here today. I believe in SADD's mission of empowering you to confront the risks and pressures you are challenged with every day.

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. Nevertheless, 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.

Thank you for letting me be part of your conference - I really hope you get the most out of the next few days and I look forward to all that I know you will contribute to the future. 

Thank you all and may God Bless the United States of America. 

Written By: RickBirt
Rick Birt
President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Richard “Rick” Birt joined the SADD National staff in June 2014 as the Development Officer and, in 2015, became the Director of Strategic Partnerships. In 2016, he was promoted to serve as Executive Vice President. Now as the Acting CEO, Rick leads national operations and development efforts, playing a critical role in managing all national programs and field relations while fostering relationships between the organization and external partners. Rick also manages the SADD National Youth Leadership Councils – the Student Leadership Council (SLC) and College Advisory Council (CAC), and oversees the planning and execution of the annual SADD National Conference on Youth Health & Safety. Rick has years of experience working in the prevention field. Previously, he worked with Impact Teen Drivers to support peer-to-peer-based traffic safety education and training as the Midwest Director of Operations. Rick also has significant experience as a grant writer and has worked with many state agencies on youth health and safety and leadership development. Rick has been deeply involved with SADD, from his selection as the 2009-2010 SADD National Student of the Year to his service as the Ohio SADD State Contact. Rick loves to give back to the community. As such, he was elected to his local Board of Education at Northwestern Schools in Springfield, Ohio leading numerous community and state-wide advocacy efforts with the Ohio School Board Association and the National School Board Association. Rick holds a Bachelor’s degree in political science from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio and is currently in the process of obtaining his MBA in Non-Profit Administration from the University of Notre Dame.