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Gates Foundation: The Story of Food

Cooking dinner usually results in, well, dinner.  But for too many people, it can have a devastating side effect.

For the 3 billion people in developing countries who cook their meals over an open fire, dinner preparation can be a silent killer (and I don't mean from boring table talk).

In fact, it's one of the biggest — and least known — killers of women and kids around the world.


Image via Ed Brambley/Flickr (cropped).

Over 4 million people die every year from inhaling the toxic pollution from unsafe stoves.

Can you imagine?

Having to cook over an open fire — burning dung, coal, and wood for fuel — is comparable to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. Not to mention how dangerous it is to live around an open flame every day. Clumsy or not, that's a recipe for burns — or worse.

Luckily, some innovative folks created a cookstove that's pretty incredible. It's saving the lives of moms and kids — and creating jobs.

Image via Esther Havens/The Adventure Project, used with permission.

These charcoal-efficient cookstoves, currently making the rounds in Kenya, are drastically reducing smoke from cooking fires and cutting in half the amount of charcoal needed.

They come from the folks at The Adventure Project, and the impact they've made so far is quite mind-blowing. You don't have to just take my word for it, you can see it for yourself:

Image via Esther Havens/The Adventure Project, used with permission.

The benefits of using charcoal-efficient stoves extend way beyond the food they help to prepare.

According to the group, every stove saves a family 20% of their daily expenses because they use 50% less charcoal per day. And it helps save them time too. In Kenya, the average woman can spend up to 30 hours a week just collecting firewood. But that's not necessary with a clean cookstove.

When Mary bought a stove, it meant her kids could finally go to school.

Image via Esther Havens/The Adventure Project, used with permission.

She no longer has to spend so much money on firewood, and now she's able to send her kids to get an education.

"I am using more money for school fees and buying house goods like food," she told The Adventure Project. "Although the school fees are quite an amount, I can pay them and save money. Every month I spent 1000 on firewood but now I only spend 400 shillings so I can save 600 shillings."

In less than two years, 17,876 charcoal-efficient stoves have been sold in Kenya.

According to The Adventure Project, these stoves have helped more than 89,000 people and saved over 107,000 trees from being cut down.

In other words, they're working.

And perhaps the best part is that The Adventure Project doesn't just give the stoves away. Their model is meant to last.

The organization invests in training people in Kenya, like this stove entrepreneur named Josephat, to make the stoves and sell them at an affordable price to their neighbors. And they make sure everyone is able to afford a stove, even the extremely poor, through low-interest loans. It creates sustainable local business.

Image via Esther Havens/The Adventure Project, used with permission.

Safe and reliable access to energy for cooking is a basic need.

And when you move past the top-line data points and measurements of a cookstove's immediate impact, you can't forget the human element it brings: Progress like this can help families bond and grow closer. Mary can attest to that.

"If they inhaled the smoke they would have very bad coughing and I feared for their health," she recalled. "Now, with the coal stove I can cook comfortably in the kitchen, my husband can finally sit in the kitchen with me and talk to me."

Image via Esther Havens/The Adventure Project, used with permission.

Our global food system is transforming for good — and we're only just beginning. The Adventure Project is just one group out there focused on clean cookstoves and taking small sustainable steps toward a better world.

Helping kids grow healthier, local economies succeed, and families lift themselves out of poverty ... all because of a stove? It's very much happening.

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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via Pexels

If you know how to fix this tape, you grew up in the 1990s.

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.

U.S. men's and women's soccer teams will now receive equal pay.

The U.S. women's national soccer team (USWNT) is the winningest women's soccer team on Earth, holding four FIFA World Cup titles, four Olympic gold medals and eight CONCACAF Gold Cups. In the three years following their 2015 World Cup win, the women's team also generated more game revenue than the U.S. men's national soccer team (USMNT).

The U.S. men's national soccer team team, on the other hand, has never won a World Cup and has brought in less game revenue than the women's team in recent years. And yet, players on the women's team have continued to get paid thousands of dollars less than their male counterparts. This pay discrepancy resulted in two major lawsuits against the U.S. Soccer Federation, one by five women's players in 2016 and one by 28 players in 2019.

In February 2022, a settlement was reached, which has the U.S. Soccer Federation paying $22 million in back pay to the women's team players. And on May 18, U.S. Soccer Federation announced a deal that will have players for the USMNT and USWNT being paid equally until at least 2028.

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Photo from Upworthy Library

A proud sloth dad was caught on camera.

Teddy the two-toed sloth has become a proud papa and thanks to a video posted by the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, we all get to witness the adorable reunion with his newborn son.

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



The video, posted to the Florida zoo’s YouTube page, shows Grizzly slowly climbing toward her mate, who is at first blissfully unaware as he continues munching on leaves. Typical dad.

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