Remember those stories you heard as a kid about people walking a really long time for something they believed in?

In classic tales...


and Bible stories...

And history books?

It always seemed like such a romantic idea. But in real life, today, 2015, how far would you actually walk for a dream? For a vision of a better life and world?

How about 250 miles?

That's what these three phenomenal women just did.

Take a good look at this picture.

On April 13, Linda Sarsour, Carmen Perez, and Tamika Mallory left Staten Island to start a nine-day, 250-mile walk from NYC to Washington, D.C.

Why?

They were fed up with years of police brutality and injustice toward people of color all across America, especially after the non-indictment of Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner in December 2014, right in their backyard of New York City.

They had reached their limit.

The three had been activists for most of their lives but knew it was time for something out of the ordinary. They wanted to do something disruptive and epic and a little crazy.

So they decided to walk.

And they weren't alone. Nearly 100 marchers took the trek with them.

Passionate walkers of all ages and ethnicities walked side by side for 250 miles, tweeting their reasons for marching under the hashtag #whywemarch.




And while they had their personal reasons for going, together they had one clear goal:

Bringing a “Justice Package" of legislation proposals to Congress.

The package includes three proposed pieces of federal legislation:

  • The End Racial Profiling Act that would do exactly what its name suggests: prohibit law enforcement from profiling based on race, nationality, ethnicity, or religion.
  • The Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act would amend the current law that allows the Department of Defense to transfer its excess equipment (like the military-grade vehicles and weapons that were used to police peaceful civilians in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri) to federal and state law enforcement.
  • The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act would create a federal-state partnership to support prevention programs that give young people alternatives to incarceration.

They stopped in Newark, Trenton, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, and were joined by supporters in every city. They were welcomed at churches, mosques, schools, and community centers with dinners, rallies, prayer circles, and vigils.

There was music, food, poetry, press, deep conversation, and lots and lots of tears. Especially when they were joined by the parents of victims, elders of the community, and children.

By day, they walked in the hot sun and pouring rain. By night, they slept on air mattresses and rested their bruised and swollen feet.

They popped off knee braces and ankle wraps and hoped that their legs would make it just a few more days. One walker, Malik Hubbard, even injured his Achilles tendon on the trip.

But every morning, he and everyone else got up and kept walking. City by city, the same thing.

Until they got to Baltimore.


On the seventh day of the march, the group arrived in Baltimore just as horrific news was breaking: Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who was rushed to the hospital with a severed spinal cord after being chased and tackled by officers, had died.

The local community was outraged and emotional, and intense protests ensued, right in the presence of the marchers. Then, according to marcher Alida Garcia, this happened:

"We happened to be marching through the very neighborhood of the police precinct so we marched there and met up with Freddie's family and friends. Tensions were high, young men wanted answers, simple answers to questions like 'what happened?' that have gone unanswered for over a week as he was put in a coma. People saw an officer who was on the [scene] and walked over to ask questions. Things were getting a bit impassioned and little, 5-foot-something Tamika courageously pushed her way in between the police and the protestors reminding them that we're fighting a system, not individual people and that being organized can get us the answers."

It was a painful, real-time reminder of exactly why they were marching.

So they kept going.

Now, back to that picture.

This photo was taken as Linda, Carmen, Tamika, and the rest of the marchers finally crossed the line into Washington, D.C.

That's the look of victory.


They made it to Washington just in time for a series of planned events. The final march from Howard University to Capitol Hill, a concert and a rally that included celebrities like Jussie Smollett from Fox's hit TV show "Empire," the fabulous "Grey's Anatomy" actor and activist Jesse Williams, and legendary actor Danny Glover.

Then, they went on to hand-deliver the Justice Package that they walked so far to share with members of Congress. And so ended the epic #March2Justice.

But it's really just the beginning.

Sure, the marchers will all go back home and continue their work. The news cameras will disappear and the hashtag will die a quiet, peaceful death like all other fleeting, trending topics.

But imagine just how many people were inspired by seeing a new generation of marchers take a stand for what they believe. Or how many little girls will grow up to be powerful leaders because they saw three humble young women turn the vision and a dream of a march — that no one thought they could pull off — into reality, all in the name of justice?

Maybe one day, theirs will be the long-walk story that is told alongside the fairy tales and Bible stories and history lessons.

To support their work, don't just share this post. (Although you should totally do that too. They walked 250 miles. We can at least spread the word about what they did, right?) You can also donate to the NY Justice League for their ongoing activities. And make sure to check out their Instagram account for more breathtaking photos of the nine-day march.

Connections Academy

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

True

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.

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

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.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

Keep Reading Show less
Pets

Ginger the dog reunited with family 5 years after being stolen

Ginger's family never gave up hope, and it payed off.

Ginger the dog was missing for five years before being reunited with her family.

A sweet pup is finally home with her family where she belongs after way too many years away.

Ginger the dog was stolen from her family back in 2017. Her owner, Barney Lattimore of Janesville, Wisconsin, never gave up the hope that his sweet girl was out there somewhere. Whenever he'd see a dog listed on a rescue website or humane society website that even remotely resembled his Ginger, he would inquire about the dog. Unfortunately, it was never her. You'd think that after a while he would stop, but if he had, he likely wouldn't have gotten the sweetest reunion.

Keep Reading Show less

Prior to baby formula, breastfeeding was the norm, but that doesn't mean it always worked.

As if the past handful of years weren't challenging enough, the U.S. is currently dealing with a baby formula crisis.

Due to a perfect storm of supply chain issues, product recalls, labor shortages and inflation, manufacturers are struggling to keep up with formula demand and retailers are rationing supplies. As a result, families that rely on formula are scrambling to ensure that their babies get the food they need.

Naturally, people are weighing in on the crisis, with some throwing out simplistic advice like, "Why don't you just do what people did before baby formula was invented and just breastfeed?"

That might seem logical, unless you understand how breastfeeding works and know a bit about infant mortality throughout human history.

Keep Reading Show less