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5 quotes from presidential farewell speeches show the power of a strong good-bye.

Ahead of President Obama's final speech, a look back at some important lessons.

On Sunday, Jan. 10, President Barack Obama will travel to Chicago to deliver his farewell address to the nation.

The farewell address is a tradition dating all the way back to George Washington himself. The address has historically provided outgoing presidents with an opportunity to publicly reflect on their successes and failures, as well as to share a bit of unique wisdom with both their successor and with the general public as a whole.

"Since 2009, we've faced our fair share of challenges, and come through them stronger," wrote President Obama on the White House website. "That's because we have never let go of a belief that has guided us ever since our founding — our conviction that, together, we can change this country for the better."


One of the most interesting aspects of the farewell address is how, as a concept, it's such a contradiction in terms of the president's power and influence.

Usually delivered just days before a successor is set to take office, the farewell address comes at what is arguably the low point in any president's administration in terms of actual policy influence — and yet, these addresses have typically been imbued with such candidness that they become powerful in a whole new way.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

1. George W. Bush shared a message of compassion and understanding for immigrants.

"In the face of threats from abroad, it can be tempting to seek comfort by turning inward. But we must reject isolationism and its companion, protectionism. Retreating behind our borders would only invite danger," Bush warned.

While much of President Bush's speech focused heavily on the importance of national defense and vigilance about preventing future terrorist attacks, at one point during the address, he focused on the very concept of what it means to be American:

Photo by Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald, Pool.

2. Bill Clinton urged future generations to embrace equality "in our hearts and in our laws."

"As we become ever more diverse, we must work harder to unite around our common values and our common humanity," implored Clinton in his speech.

During his administration, President Clinton's record on equality was somewhat mixed. As the president who signed both the Defense of Marriage Act (which preemptively blocked same-sex marriages) and the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy (which prohibited gays, lesbians, and bisexuals from serving openly in the armed forces) into law, his farewell address hinted at a bit of regret when it came to social equity:

Photo by AFP/AFP/Getty Images.

3. Ronald Reagan used his address to remind the country why city walls must have doors that are open to everyone.

"I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it," Reagan said in his speech. "In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity."

"And if there had to be city walls," he said, "the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still."

Reagan's address mostly centered on his successes in office, focusing on economic gains and the U.S.'s role in ending the Cold War, but also included a word of advice for when the going gets tough or problems seem overwhelming

Photo by J. David Ake/AFP/Getty Images.

4. Jimmy Carter played up the importance of defending the human rights of all people in the success of America.

"Those who hunger for freedom, who thirst for human dignity, and who suffer for the sake of justice, they are the patriots of this cause," said Carter during his address.

His anti-isolationist message touched on the U.S.'s role in ensuring that people around the world are treated with dignity, respect, and basic human rights. Carter urged Americans to be a force for good in the world, extending far beyond geographic borders.

Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

5. George Washington warned us of the dangers of partisanship, a message that remains incredibly relevant.

"I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations," wrote Washington. "Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally."

Despite having been delivered more than 220 years ago, Washington's address is perhaps the most prescient for 2017 and beyond. Political parties can serve as coalitions for individuals with similar goals. As President Washington warned, however, they can also lead to despotism. Now, in 2017, as the country's 45th president is about to be inaugurated, it seems our attachment to these political parties has done just that: empowered a despot.

Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Party allegiances today have even chipped away at the very concept of facts. Should a Democrat say the sky is blue, expect that a Republican will be there to dispute the assertion, and vice versa. It often feels as though the parties are no longer working toward common interests and solutions, but rather, a very dangerous game of one-upmanship, the most obvious example being the rush for Congress and the PEOTUS to repeal President Obama's landmark health care bill, which could boot up to 30 million people off their health insurance.

President Washington warned us. It's not too late to listen to what he — and our other past presidents — had to say.

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

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The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

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There are a lot of reasons to feel a twinge of nostalgia for the final days of the 20th century. Rampant inflation, a global pandemic and political unrest have created a sense of uneasiness about the future that has everyone feeling a bit down.

There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

But, you gotta admit, that TV is still pretty damn good.

A lot of folks feel Americans have become a lot harsher to one another due to political divides, which seem to be widening by the day due to the power of the internet and partisan media.

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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.

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A recent (and fairly insensitive) sketch from “Saturday Night Live” said it best regarding the widespread fixation many have on the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial:

“It’s not the most pertinent story of the moment, but with all the problems in the world, isn’t it nice to have a news story we can all collectively watch and say ‘glad it ain't me?’”

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Trial Cold Open - SNL www.youtube.com

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Mama sloth, aka Grizzly, gave birth to their healthy little one in Feb 2022, which delighted more than 3,000 people on Facebook.



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