Last year, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his wife, first lady Casey DeSantis, launched an initiative to help children negatively impacted by the pandemic.
The program, called “Resiliency Florida,” is focused on children’s mental health and resiliency. It empowers kids to persevere through life’s challenges by building problem-solving skills, critical thinking, responsibility and kindness.
Casey DeSantis, who has focused on mental health issues throughout her husband’s term as governor, says the mental and physical impacts of the pandemic have taken their toll on children.
“With mental health, what I noticed in traveling the state and speaking with a lot of kids is that if they come forward and say that they have a mental health issue, that they feel like a victim and that there’s a stigma associated with it. We’re really trying to change the narrative with that,” Casey DeSantis said in a recent interview.
Gov. DeSantis has been an advocate for keeping schools open during the pandemic. The first lady fully supports in-person learning, saying virtual learning during COVID “was a terrible, failed experiment and our poor kids suffered immensely.
“The governor keeping the schools open has done so much for these kids’ emotional and mental well-being.”
Casey DeSantis, who also serves as chair of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet, says her resiliency campaign includes a school curriculum and focuses on several components:
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Celebrating overcoming adversity
- Mentorship and volunteerism
- Coping skills, gratitude and respect
The initiative also includes a resiliency toolkit. First lady DeSantis has promoted the program along with Florida sports teams and professional athletes including Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, to highlight how no one is immune from hardship.
A goal of the campaign is to help kids feel empowered, and to teach that sometimes life gives you knocks, but you can work to overcome them.
Casey DeSantis knows personally about persevering through hardship: She has continued her work as Florida’s first lady throughout her treatment for breast cancer, which was diagnosed last year. She completed chemotherapy last month.
At a recent press conference, the governor said completing treatment marked a milestone for his wife. “She’s doing well and we look forward to having good news over the ensuing weeks and months.”