A grieving Phoenix mom received the tribute of a lifetime from Taylor Swift.

In 2010, Maya Thompson received devastating news that would change her life forever.

Her 3-year-old son, Ronan, was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer. After months of chemo and radiation, Ronan passed away in May 2011, just days shy of his fourth birthday.



But Ronan's story doesn't end there.

Since her son's diagnosis, Thompson has documented her family's story on her blog, "Rockstar Ronan."

Her passionate, honest writing caught the attention of faithful readers around the globe, including singer Taylor Swift.

Yes, this Taylor Swift, doer of good deeds. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.

Taylor Swift was so moved by Thompson's story that she wrote the song "Ronan."

The song is deeply personal, incorporating some of the intimate moments Thompson shared about her son. As such, Swift gave Thompson a co-writing credit on the heart-wrenching ballad. Proceeds from the song go directly to the Ronan Thompson Foundation and other organizations in the fight against childhood cancer.

Given the sentimental nature of the song, Swift has only performed it live one time — that is, until last week.

Swift had only performed "Ronan" once, for the 2012 Stand Up to Cancer television event.

But on a recent tour stop in Glendale, Arizona, Taylor Swift performed "Ronan" live and dedicated it to Ronan's mother, Maya, who was in the audience.

I love you. @taylorswift You have my heart for the rest of my life and beyond. #ronan #fucancer #swiftieforlife #allhailqueentaylor #1989 #rockstarronan #youaremyqueen @ronanfoundation #beboldgogold
A photo posted by Maya Thompson (@mamamaya) on

Though the entire Thompson family met Swift backstage before the concert, they were shocked when Swift's tour manager asked them mid-show if it was OK for Swift to perform "Ronan" that night.

For both women, the performance was an emotional, powerful experience.

Before playing the song to the sold-out crowd, Swift applauded Thompson for her bravery, strength, and tireless support of childhood cancer research.

Swift fought back tears during the short lead-in, as her own mother is currently undergoing treatment for cancer.

"I've had cancer hit really close to me in my family, so because Maya's right there, I would like you to give her a round of applause, please."

Thompson described the unforgettable evening on her blog, which takes the form of letters to Ronan.

"My eyes welled up with tears, but I didn't cry. Instead, I sang right along with Taylor the entire time. You would think in the most emotional situation, I would have completely lost it, but I didn't. I think the reason why is because I could literally feel your little arms wrapped around me. I have not felt your presence so close to me since you were physically still here on this earth. It was absolutely one of the purest, most magical moments of my life."


Swift performs "Ronan" for the sold-out crowd in Glendale. Image by KnowledgewithFun2.

Childhood cancers often strike without warning, consuming the lives of kids and their families. But there are new victories and breakthroughs every day. Every effort to fund research, support caregivers, or just bring awareness to the fight is an effort worth applauding.

So hats off to you, T-Swift. Thank you.

Grab a tissue and watch Taylor Swift's heartwarming introduction to "Ronan" from her Glendale show.

More

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

Culture
via Cadbury

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.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

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.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens
via KGW-TV / YouTube

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.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture