A brilliant new effort is turning San Diego's homeless youth into business pros.

“Whatever it is that you can conceive, that you can do, it can be done."

San Diego: A city with sunshine, sandy beaches ... and plenty of young people with nowhere to call home.

An estimated 2,500 young people, or more, to be more precise.


Photo from 8 West, used with permission.

The region's sunny weather and coastline appeal is a big draw to homeless teens and young adults from across the country who are trying to better their lives, which has helped make San Diego one of the worst cities in the country when it comes to youth homelessness.

The problem is that much of the city's resources dedicated to helping the homeless go toward older people, as chronically homeless adults are less transient (and, in at least that one sense, easier to help) than their younger counterparts are, according to Eric Lovett, executive director of nonprofit Urban Street Angels.

That's where soap (yep, soap) comes in.

A new initiative is empowering homeless young people in San Diego to take control over their lives. Using soap.

A program recently launched by Urban Street Angels is helping young people get a hand up in the business world. It's called 8 West, and it's a pretty cool concept.

“If we can help with them from a young age — before they become chronically homeless — than we have a better chance at keeping them off the street," Lovett said.

Homeless teens and young adults in the 8 West program are provided with supportive housing, mentorship, and part-time employment making and selling (sustainable!) bath, spa, and shower products.

GIF via 8 West.

The goal is to help them build skills relevant to their interests so they can leave the 18-month program with solid work experience under their belts.

"They're going to start getting into all aspects of the business," Lovett told Upworthy, noting participants will soon be able to help in the marketing and sales facets of the line as well.

8 West products can be purchased online, as well as in local retailers.

Photo by 8 West, used with permission.

8 West isn't just helping homeless young people build careers, though. It helps them build hope, too.

These young people have been through a lot.

Some were rejected by loved ones because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and others were exposed to drugs as children and are now fighting addictions. Several are coping with mental health issues or living with PTSD, and the majority have experienced sexual or physical abuse.

And if you consider how many of them have been emotionally abused, Lovett says the number is "astronomical."

Photo via iStock.

But participants are getting the message loud and clear: They have the ability to overcome the cards they've been dealt.

"Whatever it is that you can conceive, that you can do, it can be done," Lovett said he tells the program's young people. "So don't shortchange yourself. Don't believe what you've always been told — that you're nothing — and that you won't amount to anything. Because you can do it."

The program is gaining in popularity and has no plans to slow down.

Right now, the new program is relatively small, with just five participants. But a new Indie GoGo campaign is aiming to expand 8 West dramatically so that 100 young people can graduate by 2020.

And, from the sounds of it, they shouldn't have any trouble finding willing participants.

"We have a waitlist right now," Lovett said, noting that participants' friends who are also homeless have seen the hope the program instills and want the same for themselves.

"We see the more people that come in and see what's happening, they want that [too]."

GIF via 8 West.

Support 8 West's fundraising campaign here, and learn more about the program in the video below:

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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