I asked Lucy McBath to tell me about her son, Jordan Davis. She welcomed the opportunity.

"Thank you for asking," she says. "Some people say 'Oh, I'm afraid to ask,' I'm like 'No, ask me about him.' It helps keep him alive for me."

Jordan was a really, good kid — thoughtful and kind. Raised mostly by McBath in Atlanta, he made friends easily, and invited them over to his house for home-cooked meals and sleepovers.

"He was the kind of kid that would bring people together. He was really, really good at that," she says. "He was really good at being the center of attention, like the light."

Jordan was curious and inquisitive. He enjoyed learning about history, social sciences, and other cultures. As a child, he once spent a year pretending he could speak Japanese.

That's the son McBath remembers.

"He had all kinds of friends. I was very proud of that, that he had that kind of ability to love people. Simply love people for who they were."






Photo via Lucy McBath, used with permission.

Jordan Davis was shot and killed on Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, in Jacksonville, Florida.

It was the day after Thanksgiving. Jordan, 17, was in an SUV with three friends, picking up snacks and cigarettes from a gas station convenience store. Michael David Dunn and his girlfriend were in town for a wedding and pulled into the next parking space. Dunn told the boys to turn down their music. After a shouting match with Jordan, Dunn alleged that Jordan opened the door of the SUV and pointed a shotgun in his direction. Dunn took a handgun out of his glove box and started shooting into the SUV.

Tommie, the driver and Jordan's friend, floored the SUV backward, fleeing the gunfire. Dunn opened his door one more time to get a few more shots off. He later told police he feared for his life, though police never found a shotgun in or around the SUV, and witnesses never saw one.

In the aftermath, Dunn sped away to his hotel. The boys pulled into a nearby shopping center to assess the damage. Three of them were physically unscathed but covered in blood. Jordan was hit three times. He gasped for air and died shortly after. Dunn and his girlfriend didn't call the police. In fact, they made drinks and ordered a pizza.

McBath was in Chicago with her family for Thanksgiving while Jordan had stayed with his father in Jacksonville. The night of the shooting, McBath felt compelled to slip away from the table and go to the bedroom.

"I had no reason to go to the bedroom," she says. "When I got up there, I saw Jordan's father's face on the phone as the phone was lighting up, and that was the first phone call that I got."

At that moment, a cruel, indelible line etched itself on her life — before Jordan's death and after.

‌Lucy McBath, mother of Jordan Davis, cries during a Hillary Clinton for South Carolina Breaking Down Barriers forum. Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images. ‌

During his trial, Dunn cited the language of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.

Florida and 23 other states allow individuals to use deadly force to defend or protect themselves against real or perceived threats. Stand Your Ground laws made the headlines in 2012 when another Florida man, George Zimmerman, "stood his ground" against Trayvon Martin, a 17-year old kid holding an iced tea and Skittles. Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon and, after a well-publicized trial, walked away a free man.

George Zimmerman leaves the courtroom a free man after being found not guilty. Photo by Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images. ‌

Dunn, however, was convicted of attempted murder for shooting at the other boys in the car. After a mistrial and retrial, nearly two years after the shooting, Dunn was convicted of the murder of Jordan Davis. He will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

"We are very grateful that justice has been served, justice not only for Jordan, but justice for Trayvon (Martin) and justice for all the nameless, faceless children and people that will never have a voice," McBath told the press after Dunn's retrial.

Since Jordan's murder, McBath has worked tirelessly for gun violence prevention.

Just months after the shooting, McBath was asked to speak about "Stand Your Ground" legislation in Georgia. One opportunity led to another, and before long, she was approached by the gun violence prevention advocacy group, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America to become their volunteer national spokesperson.

‌Lucy McBath testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Stand Your Ground" laws in Washington, D.C. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images. ‌

Moms Demand Action was formed by a stay-at-home mom one day after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The group now has more than 60,000 volunteers in all 50 states and 4 million supporters working to  advance real policy changes at the municipal, state, and national levels.

"We are the largest nonpartisan gun violence prevention organization in the country," McBath says. "We have helped pass background checks on all gun sales in seven states. We have passed laws in 24 states to prevent domestic abusers from getting guns."

McBath is now on staff for Moms Demand Action, working to engage people of color, faith communities, and other traditionally underrepresented groups in the gun violence prevention conversation. The fight is hard, but each victory feels good and keeps her close to her son.



But as many victories McBath has had as a gun violence prevention advocate, there's still one outstanding: speaking directly to NRA leadership.

While the opportunity to speak with the lobby's executives hasn't presented itself, McBath knows just what she'll say. It's clearly written on her heart and pours out of her effortlessly, filled with fire and vigor.  (Emphasis added.)

"I would say to them, they have placed profit over public safety. That they have had their hands in the back pockets of our legislators, and that we are no longer going to allow them to do that. ... We understand what they're doing and we will continue to fight them tooth and nail. They might be a Goliath, but we are the David and we will continue to challenge them every moment we get. ... We will empower citizens as to the truth of what they're doing. And we will continue to protect our families and our communities against their extremist agenda of guns everywhere, every place, no questions asked. We are not afraid of them. And we will continue to build our army in opposition to their extremist agenda. And they can count on that."

Her words ring out like a rallying cry. It doesn't matter who you are or what you do, gun violence is infecting our communities. And it must stop.

Lucy McBath (right) delivers remarks as Geneva Reed-Veal (center), mother of Sandra Bland; Gwen Carr (second from left), mother of Eric Garner; and Annette Nance-Holt (left), mother of Blair Holt look on during the second day of the Democratic National Convention. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.‌

Lucy McBath can't bring her son back. But sharing his story and fighting for common sense reforms could save someone else's.

And through her advocacy work, Jordan's legacy lives on in safer schools, communities, and public spaces. His is a light that will never go out.

‌Photo via Lucy McBath, used with permission.

"He was a really good, kid."

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.

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:

Keep Reading Show less

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

"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."

Keep Reading Show less