‘Changing the narrative on mental health’: First lady Casey DeSantis announces initiative aimed to help students through tough times

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – First lady Casey DeSantis announced Friday the launch of a new curriculum for Florida schools aimed to teach students how to power through tough times.

In partnership with major sports teams and athletes in the Sunshine State, “Resiliency Florida” hopes to emphasize key character development skills to students, including volunteerism, teamwork, and problem-solving.

“By partnering with Florida sports teams and athletes, students will become more engaged and excited to learn about resiliency,” Governor Ron DeSantis said during the announcement at Amway Center in Orlando. “Resilient athletes and Floridians overcome setbacks and serve as role models highlighting why these critical skills are important.”

“Given the lessons I’ve learned traveling the state, we are changing the message on mental health and reframing it to resiliency and hope,” Casey DeSantis said. “We want to empower our youth with the tools and the skillsets to be resilient by learning how to persevere through life’s challenges. We know no one is immune from adversity and hardship. It’s not whether you’ll have challenges in life but it’s about how you respond and persevere.”

As part of the initiative, there was an increase in mental health assistance statewide by $25 million, which will allow for more counselors and mental health professionals in schools across the state.

“This announcement… solidifies our commitment to ensuring Florida’s students are provided all the tools necessary to succeed in life. With the establishment of forward-thinking curriculum and meaningful partnerships, we are creating a statewide culture that is instinctively supportive and laser-focused on creating resilient students,” said Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.

Additionally, first lady Casey DeSantis announced the launch of 25 Hope Ambassador Clubs throughout Florida. Hope Ambassador Clubs are a youth peer-to-peer student mentorship program that recruits “student volunteers to work with their peers and help create an environment of kindness and compassion in their schools,” according to FDOE.

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