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Sophia Ouellette never could've imagined the effect video games would have on her life when she first picked them up as a kid.

"My dad was always a huge gamer," Sophia says in a video produced by PlayStation. "He would play games all the time with our whole family. Just him playing those games and sharing the stories of the characters within the games, that really got me interested in them."


Image via YouTube/PlayStation.

In late 2011, Sophia's father was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer.

But their shared love of gaming didn't stop with his diagnosis. In fact, gaming became more important than ever.

"Before he passed he really wanted us to experience things with him," says Sophia. "[He wanted to make] sure that he could spend his last few weeks having fun and experiencing games. And just playing with us."

Image via YouTube/PlayStation.

Unfortunately, as his illness progressed, gaming became more difficult — his reflexes were deteriorating, and the gaming options became more limited.

That's when Sophia and her dad found a game called Journey.

Journey, a video game produced by That Game Company in California, is a one-of-a-kind story experience.

Less of an actual "game" and more of an interactive piece of poetry or painting, Journey puts the player in control of a character with no name in a world with no explanation.

Your mission, such as it is, is simply to get to the top of a nearby mountain.

Image via YouTube/PlayStation.

As you glide through Journey's mystical landscapes, you're immediately struck by the game's uniquely atmospheric beauty. Large rolling hills of desert sand give way to dark, isolating caves. Unnamed creatures made of magic carpets undulate through the air, lifting you silently through castles and across seemingly ancient bridges.

Image via YouTube/PlayStation.

Along the way, other players on their own journeys may cross paths with you. They appear without a name tag and without a way to communicate with you. You simply walk through the world of the game together, leading and following each other as you solve puzzles on the way to your final destination.

While widely regarded as one of the best video games ever made (seriously), Journey holds a particularly special place in Sophia's heart.

"Towards the end of the game, it suddenly gets really cold and icy, and it becomes really difficult to progress," Sophia says in the video. "Eventually your character sort of gives up, you can't go on any longer, and at that point, my dad and I thought it might have been the end of the game, it was sort of a sad ending."

Image via YouTube/PlayStation.

They were wrong, though — when you make it past that icy point, the game comes back to life.

Your character has reached the beautiful mountaintop, and all the creatures you encountered on your journey in the world below reunite to help wistfully usher you to the end of the story.

"I think that that gave my dad some kind of peace because near the end of his life, he was playing a game that told him that in the end it would be all right."

Image via YouTube/PlayStation.

Whether we're telling, hearing, or playing them in video games, stories help us process emotions and complex feelings.

Stories have a unique ability to heal. They can reach out and lift us up when we need it the most. Doctors like Richard Senelick have used stories to make a more positive and meaningful connection with their patients, as he explained in The Huffington Post:

"As we careen into the digital age, the fistful of pamphlets that we stuff into our patients’ hands will be as ineffective in the future as they have been in the past. Storytelling, in its various forms, may be one way to connect more meaningfully with our patients, to both help us get to know them individually and help them understand their physical condition."

Author Joshua Rivedal recently wrote a book about how storytelling can help people who suffer from depression by helping them to empathize with others, and events like Characters Unite or The Moth use live storytelling to speak to cultural differences, injustices, and universal similarities. Not to mention Letters Live, in which artists read letters aloud to an audience.

Nathan Lane, speaking at A More Perfect Union: Stories of Prejudice and Power, a national storytelling tour presented by The Moth. Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

The cultural significance of storytelling is well documented and can be seen daily in the billions of dollars spent every year telling them through literature, film, radio, and — yes — video games.

"Eventually I want to do game design and characters for video games," says Sophia, who recently got to show some of her artwork to the creators of Journey.

While her father has passed, she will always remember Journey as the game that brought them together and showed them that everything would be OK, in a time when both of them needed it the most.

"Whatever I make, I just want it to be something people can really connect with. Something where people see themselves in the characters I create."

Sophia and Journey creator Jenova Chen. Image via YouTube/PlayStation.

Sometimes a single story can change your life forever. Stories can move you, inspire you, and teach you valuable lessons. Sophia is telling her own stories now, and luckily for all of us, her journey is just beginning.

See Sophia's whole story here:

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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