10 practical and meaningful ways you can take part in this historic moment
Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash
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So we can all agree that 2020 is panning out to be pretty rough, right? We're dealing with a global pandemic, economic crash, 400 years of racial inequality , and murder hornets.

Trash Reaction GIF by Robert E Blackmon Giphy

If you're sitting at home, shouting expletives and/or wringing your hands wishing there was something you could do, guess what? Every single human being can find a small way to help, and we are here to inspire you to make a difference.

Got your notepad ready? Here we go.


You feel paralyzed every time you log on to social media or turn on the news.

Solution: We get it. It's a lot. We invite you to stop arguing with your distant relatives on Facebook and turn your attention to the outside world. Wave hello to a neighbor. Smile at a child. Scream into a pillow.

Help a senior citizen by running an errand, loading groceries into their vehicle, or carrying bags to the front door. Do something small to make someone else's day better, before returning to your own.

You want to donate money to a good cause but find the choices overwhelming.

Solution: There are so many worthy causes out there right now. The problem of having too many choices is actually not a bad one to have; it means a lot of kindred spirits are out there doing wonderful things, and all you have to do is click a few buttons to send support.

You can do this. Really.

You want to help people in need, but you have $10 or less to spend.

Solution: On your next grocery trip , hit the BOGO sales. Buy an extra box of cereal or can of black beans and give the surplus to a local food bank. Every item makes a difference, and if you take advantage of a drugstore sale, pick up feminine hygiene products, deodorant, or shampoo and donate them to a homeless shelter.

You want to be an activist but have no idea where to start.

Solution: Half of the battle is won already, friend. Use the internet to find a local group of like-minded people. Enter a search on your city and include the type of activism you are interested in. Look up the word "activism" to make sure you understand what it is. See when and where virtual activist training is available. Be open. Follow the minority leadership, be peaceful, and listen.

Photo by Mike Von on Unsplash

The idea of activism makes you want to hide in a closet.

Solution: Great! How are you at writing letters? Baking? Childcare? Errand-running? Figure out what you have to offer, and then volunteer your services to the activists in your community. Many of them want to do more but can't because they're too busy doing a task that you might find enjoyable.

Children have questions. About everything.

Solution: Yes, we know. There really is a lot to take in, and you haven't had time to fully process it, and you'd rather just not have those conversations. But if you muster up the courage to face it head on, the kids will be empowered with the knowledge they need to navigate tricky situations with their peers. Talking to children openly and honestly helps them become future allies and advocates for justice, period.

You suspect you might be part of the problem, or know someone who might be part of the problem.

Solution: The first step in making a difference is acknowledging that there is a problem. Find some quiet time to ponder this. Think about what you can do to improve the situation within your small sphere of influence.

Important people in your life don't agree with your views.

Solution: Your job isn't to change them. Your task is to love them enough to have an honest conversation. Listen to why they might feel strongly about an issue. Ask questions without judgement so that you can better understand where they might be coming from. It's possible to create space for them (and their quirks) without condoning bad or unethical behavior. Humanity is complicated—just love them, and burn a lot of sage.

You've got very little free time, money is tight, and your emotional bandwidth is tapped.

Solution: Text a friend, just to check on them. Admire the birds from your window. Sign up to give back every time you buy essentials like laundry detergent and toothpaste, so that you're able to do good without having to think about it.

You are very often in a bad mood.

Solution: Tap into the positive energy of Mother Earth. Garden, plant trees to fight climate change, shake your fist at the sky, sit in the sun and stick your feet in a patch of grass. Everything is connected to everything else—creating positive energy will help everyone, most of all, you.

If all of us aim to improve the common welfare, think of the possibilities for our future! Don't let excuses or lack of experience keep you from making a difference.

Turn your everyday actions into acts of good every day at P&G Good Everyday.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

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"Veteran" mom and "new" mom parent differently.

When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

But soon, reality sets in and if they have more kids, they'll probably be raised with a lot less attention. As a result, first-born kids turn out a bit differently than their younger siblings.

"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

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