10 things from this week that'll warm your heart and bring a smile to your face

Though the holiday festivities from last weekend have waned, there's plenty to enjoy as we head into the peak of the summer season. Here are ten of the best things we've seen this week that are sure to bring joy to your heart and a smile to your face.

1. British footballer Mason Mount gives a superfan his jersey—and her face is everything.

Though "football" (err, soccer) is not quite as big a deal on this side of the pond, England's winning streak has U.K. fans jumping for joy. And this young fan, Belle, got the surprise of a lifetime when England's Mason Mount walked into the stands and handed her a jersey. That face screams pure joy.

2. Is there anything cuter than a baby saying "Mama" in his sleep? No, there is not.

Sometimes joy comes in big, celebratory packages and sometimes it comes in tiny, sweet ones. Watch this wee one talking in his sleep about his favorite person in the whole world. Babies are seriously the best.



3. Recovered addict offers to pay for woman's rehab after she stole his dog.

Image by style81 from Pixabay

After Brayden Morton's Shar-pei Darla was stolen from his yard, he posted a plea to help find her on Facebook, with a reward of $5000. Ultimately, a woman called weeping, admitting to taking the dog. When Morton met with her, he recognized immediately that she was a drug addict. Morton himself has been in recovery for six years and works as a Drug and Alcohol Interventionist, so he gave her a hug and offered to help her into rehab.

Read the fortuitous story here.

4. 14-year-old Zaila Avant-garde became the first African-American champion of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Zaila Avant-garde is a wonder. Not only is she the first African-American to win the national spelling bee title in its 96-year history, and the first student from Louisiana to take home that crown, but she also holds three Guiness World Records for the most basketballs dribbled simultaneously, the most basketballs bounces, and the most bounce juggles in one minute. Watch out, world. This girl is going places.

5. Minnesota is putting an end to lunch debt shaming, and we are here for it.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

No student should ever be made to feel bad that their family is struggling to afford food, and they certainly shouldn't be shamed for something they have no control over. Yet in some places, kids with school lunch debt are given jelly sandwiches instead of a hot lunch, some are given a stamp on their hand that says "I need lunch money," and some even have their lunches thrown away in front of everyone. Absoluetly appalling. Minnesota is ending allllll of that, with the state education commissioner saying, "Our lunchrooms are an extension of the classroom and set students up for academic success." Read the story here.

6. 12-year-old Mi'kmaw boy walks 200km (124.2 miles) and raises more than $40,000 in response to residential school tragedies

With the discovery of hundreds upon hundreds of Indigenous children buried in unmarked graves at Canadian residential schools has come a great deal of pain and trauma. Landyn Toney, a Mi'kmaw boy whose great grandmother spent her childhood at a residential school, decided to channel his anger over that history into something positive. "I'm not the kind of person that just wants to let my anger go," he told CBC News after five days of walking. "I wanted to show my anger by doing something good." He held a 200-kilometer fundraising walk to raise money for Indigenous causes.


7. When the pandemic canceled graduation, this teacher brought the stage to every graduating senior to walk.

Dedicated educators are a gift to the world, and this Canadian P.E. teacher is clearly dedicated. Not only did he create a portable graduation stage, but he personally drove it around to each graduating senior's house and had their families present their diplomas as they walked the stage. Love seeing such creative and innovative solutions to pandemic limitations.

8. The doggy-dancing duet that never gets old.

It's not a new video, but it also never gets old. Buddy Mercury playing the piano and singing (seriously, what the heck) and his little friend dancing along is the epitome of awesome. The simultaneous tail wag and butt wiggle really put the cherry on top of this delight sundae.

9. Kiddo putting his "personal best" fishing catch back in the water with such a sweet heart.

Somebody please give this kid his own nature show. The way he's so proud and awed by her, and then how gently he puts her back in the water. "She's so big and beautiful..." Gracious, it doesn't get any sweeter.

10. Finally, here's a triple dose of seratonin to push you through the weekend.

"Dogs and cats living together—mass hysteria!" Or maybe it's just exactly the world we all want to live in. It's not possible to not love these clips of kitty-puppy love.



Have a great weekend, everyone!

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."