First lady Jill Biden flew into Michigan today, arriving first in Freeland.
She was joined by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.
During the second stop, they held a listening session at the Ziibiwing Center in Mount Pleasant, discussing youth mental health with the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe.
Tribe members greeted Biden with a ceremonial dance, drums and singing.
Murthy facilitated the discussion, while Biden spoke with teachers and tribe members directly impacted by mental health struggles.
“I wanted to come see this program because I thought, I said to my staff, what are we doing, you know, to help the teachers,” Biden said.
Director of Tribal Education Melissa Isaac spoke about, “Project Aware,” a new initiative helping students with grief and depression.
“We need to know what the problem is to get better, and we reached out to behavioral health and came up with a list of traumas and realized that 83% of our students have one of those traumas, and those are known traumas,” Isaac said.
Biden spoke about her own experiences as a teacher, comforting educators and students during the pandemic.
“We all sort of expected that it would be a struggle,” Biden said. “It’s even more than we could ever imagine.”
Near the end of the discussion, Murthy applauded the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and “Project Aware’s” efforts.
“If you look at each other and I look at you, I see people who recognize that you have a profound responsibility to all children who are growing up in this community and you’re demonstrating that so beautifully,” Murthy said.
At the end of the meeting, members of the Tribal Council gifted Biden a traditional blanket, basket and skirt.
She will end her trip to Michigan with a visit in Detroit, as the featured guest at Yeshiva Beth Yehuda’s annual dinner, before flying to Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina.