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Pro sports teams, athletes join to support Florida first lady's student mental health initiative

Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis was joined by professional athletes and sports organizations to announce the resiliency initiative for Florida students.
Credit: First Coast News
Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis announces student mental health initiative, a partnership with Florida professional sports teams and athletes.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Several of Florida's professional sports teams, organizations and athletes are throwing their support behind Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis' student mental health initiative.

DeSantis was joined by Gov. Ron DeSantis, along with former college football coach Lou Holtz, Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, head of Volunteer Florida Corey Simon and Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins, at the Amway Center in Orlando Friday morning. They announced the launch of a resiliency initiative for Florida schools to encourage volunteerism, teamwork and problem solving.

“Our goal is to rethink and reframe the way we talk about mental wellbeing in schools by promoting topics such as critical thinking, problem solving, responsibility, volunteerism, mentorship, and physical activity,” Gov. DeSantis said. “By partnering with Florida sports teams and athletes, students will become more engaged and excited to learn about resiliency. Resilient athletes and Floridians overcome setbacks and serve as role models highlighting why these critical skills are important.”

The effort will include resiliency lessons and resources available at www.cpalms.org, a website for teachers, students and families that helps to bridge education from the classroom to home. Casey DeSantis also announced the launch of 25 Hope Ambassador Clubs throughout Florida, supporting Florida's education statutes requiring mental health and character education curriculum.

However, character education is the only section of required instruction that does not have aligned standards. So, in addition to introducing a Resiliency Toolkit, Casey DeSantis called on FDOE to create character development standards.

“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.”

The teams partnering with the initiative include Orlando Magic, Orlando City SC, Orlando Pride, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Rays, Tampa Bay Lightning, Inter Miami CF, Miami Heat, Miami Dolphins, Miami Marlins, Florida Panthers, NASCAR and the LPGA. 

Athletes endorsing the initiative include David Beckham, Peyton Manning, Lou Holtz, Tony Dungy, Urban Meyer, Crystal Thomas, Ali Marpet, Bryant McFadden, Mark Richt, Twan Russell, Corey Simon, Tra Thomas, Jonathan Vilma, Jonathan Isaac, Charlie Ward, Tyler Johnson, Joey Logano, Brandon Lowe and Chris Mueller.

You can watch the full news conference below.

For a list of Hope Ambassador Clubs throughout the state, visit http://www.fldoe.org/hopeambassadors/.

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