First Lady of Florida Announces the Next Phase of Resiliency Initiative

by Karen Custer

LYNN HAVEN, FL - The First Lady of Florida, Casey DeSantis, announced two first-of-a-kind programs on April 18th, at A. Crawford Mosley High School, to a packed library of dignitaries, administrators, teachers, students and community members. Other speakers on the panel included (seated right to left in photo) the 2024 Bay District School AND Florida Teacher-of-the-Year, Adrianna Swearingen; Superintendent of Bay District Schools, Mark McQueen; Florida Commissioner of Education, Manny Diaz; Secretary of the Florida Lottery, John Davis, who also oversees the Bright Futures scholarship ; and Florida State University Division I Athlete, Audrey Rothman.

First Lady DeSantis mentioned that Senator Cory Simon who also attended, “Uses his story to empower kids to learn to persevere” and said of Representative Griff Griffitts and Senator Jay Trumbull, “We appreciate everything that you guys are doing to lead the charge in the State of Florida. The entire world watches and across the country as Florida leads and a lot of people follow all of the good things that we’re doing.”

Governor DeSantis and The First Lady, Casey DeSantis, are the parents of three children ages 7, 6 and 4-years-old. The First Lady said, “We want to create a future for them and we want to be able to have opportunities for them to be able to accomplish the American Dream and we also want them to learn to become resilient.” “That’s one of the things we try to do inside of our house with our kids, that we tried to do across the State of Florida.”

“I am here as a mom and I’m here also in my capacity. It isn’t about me. In the position as First Lady of the State of Florida, we can do so many wonderful things when you put yourself in the arena and you bring good people together who come up with really good ideas. That is how this whole Resiliency Initiative was born.”

Since 2021, the First Lady and others visited schools across the state and talked to students, teachers, coaches, bus drivers, anybody who interacted with the school system and learned a lot. One of the particular things she learned from students is when they had met hardship, when they were going through a difficult phase in their life, a lot of them felt that they were damaged goods as if they had a mental condition, something that was inhibiting them from doing good.

She said that a lot of parents know to empower their kids to persevere in life’s inevitable challenges because, “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, you are going to be met with adversity in life. It’s not what happens to you. It’s how we respond to it.” They want to empower kids with the skills to learn how to persevere. They’re rejecting the current Mental Health model in our schools. They want to tell students, “Yes, you can overcome.” They can learn to be resilient with skills that we’ve been giving them like problem-solving, coping, compassion, grit and perseverance. All of this is encapsulated in new standards and curriculum and given for free to the districts across the State of Florida to help our kids, “Learn to begin to power through which is so important.”

The First Lady also wants to incentivize volunteerism because she believes that if kids get out and volunteer, they get context and perspective on life. It’s important to get them away from social media devices, get them away from their phones, away from tunnel vision and to get out and do good. When they do good for others, not only is it good for society, it’s also good for themselves.

With the Resiliency Initiative, they realized that it’s one thing to sit up there and say, “Persevere. You can do it. Stay strong.” However, it’s a completely different thing to have people that students admire in front of them saying, “Life’s not gonna’ be easy.” That resonates and they like it a whole lot more. People such as great athletes like Corey Simon, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Joey Lavado, Lou Holt, David Beckham and Brian McFadden, are part of this Resiliency Initiative. They talked on camera about their own stories of perseverance. Tom Brady said, “I’m one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, but listen, to get to where I am, man I had to go through a lot of adversity.” The PR campaign was launched in 2021.

In October 2022, Florida became the first state in our great nation to change to this resiliency model, to empower kids to become resilient, and to move away from the concept of stigma-laden mental health. In March of 2023, the State Board adopted Resiliency Standards and provided the entire curriculum free to teachers across the state via . Two years later, the curriculum at Bay District Schools is still evolving from a therapy-based Life Skills curriculum to a positive individual examples Life Skills Resiliency program.

Unveiled at this event, is a new unique program which will pay a stipend to parents and grandparents to come into the classroom and be trained to be resiliency coaches and mentors. Details on this first-of-a-kind program will be rolling out this year. This will connect all kids to people in their community who have overcome the hard issues in life that they will face or are facing today. Community members can learn more about the program here:

For the videos of First Lady DeSantis and the other five members of the panel, please check out these links.

First Lady Casey DeSantis

Opening Remaks-

Ending Remarks -

Florida Commissioner of Education, Manny Diaz -

Secretary John Davis –

Superintendent Mark McQueen -

Adrianna Swearingen -

Audrey Rothman -