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(CNN) —  

First lady Melania Trump made her first public appearance since her jacket controversy Sunday evening, speaking to the Students Against Destructive Decisions’ annual conference where she emphasized the importance of kindness.

“Kindness, compassion, and positivity are very important traits in life. It is far easier to say nothing than it is to speak words of kindness. It is easier to judge quickly than to take time to understand. It is often easier to see a glass half-empty than half full,” she said to an excited audience of middle and high school students and their parents.

“You have the power to be the positive force in so many people’s lives. Show respect to each other. Treat your community like your family, and look out for one another,” she added.

Trump came under fire last week when she wore a jacket emblazoned with the words “I really don’t care. Do u?” on her way to an unannounced border facility visit in Texas. It’s unclear who her message was intended to reach, her spokeswoman tweeting “#ItsJustAJacket” while the President tweeted that the message was aimed at the media.

Last month, the first lady unveiled her “Be Best” platform. It outlined three predominant avenues of focus: health and well-being, kindness and safety online, and highlighting the effects of the opioid crisis on children.

Trump, who met with SADD student leaders before her speech, told the group that youth leadership programs like SADD “can be such a positive influence for the future.”

SADD was founded as “Students Against Driving Drunk” in 1981. The organization broadened its mission in 1997, and is now committed to “(highlighting) prevention of all destructive behaviors and attitudes that are harmful to young people,” per its website.