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A group of bullied friends had a plan. Their city has not been the same since.

In 2008, a group of adults with developmental disabilities started reclaiming what "the short bus" stands for.

A group of bullied friends had a plan. Their city has not been the same since.

You guys remember the "short bus," right?

The "short bus" is a big part of the daily lives of many people. Like these folks:


They're a group of people with special needs, and yeah, every day they rode the "short bus" to school, and they heard other kids make fun of them and their "short bus."


When they finished school, many of the group members say they were given boring jobs that left them feeling unfulfilled. They were paid very little to do menial tasks that they didn't think empowered them or enriched their lives.

A volunteer named Cassandra, who worked with these folks, had an idea.

She created Shortbus Studio.

Shortbus is an art studio where people with disabilities create art they could sell, like greeting cards and T-shirts. She gave them an alternative to their boring jobs and empowered them to grow, explore the world, and make money on their own.

Shortbus Studio became super-popular in the town.

Local residents began buying their art for friends and family. Seriously, see the ideas below and tell me you wouldn't buy 'em!

With the money made from selling their art, they created a full-on service organization.

They created a community garden at a local church to feed hungry people, they made chew toys for animal shelters, and they bottle-fed orphaned wild animals.

They cleaned trash from hiking trails in the Appalachian mountains.

Local residents noticed how their community was improving because of the help of the people at Shortbus Studio, so they all began working together.

Neighbors helped them use tools to build wheelchair ramps...

...and helped them explore the mountains in ways they could never have experienced before. The guy below is named Ricky, and he's been in a wheelchair his entire life. One day, they taught him to zipline!

Shortbus Studios even made enough money to take residents to see the ocean for the first time.


On their days off, Cassandra would take them hiking in the mountains, something they had not experienced before.

Before Shortbus, these adults were limited by the ideas that people put ON them, but Cassandra and their community changed all of that.

Shortbus Studio used art, outdoor adventures, and service projects to build relationships so community members could see that individuals with disabilities are more alike than different.

That they wanted to connect with people.

Feel heard.

And learn to be a part of something larger than themselves.

The very small things we do for each other have a ripple effect that can change a town.

Check out the whole video:

**UPDATE**

Since I started writing this post, North Carolina drastically cut the funding for the Shortbus Studio program. I don't know about you, but I don't want them to go back to a life that made them unhappy. They still make greeting cards and T-shirts that you can purchase from their catalog. Please share this to get the word out!

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather
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Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

While most 10-year-olds are playing Minecraft, riding bikes, or watching YouTube videos, Justin Sather is intent on saving the planet. And it all started with a frog blanket when he was a baby.

"He carried it everywhere," Justin's mom tells us. "He had frog everything, even a frog-themed birthday party."

In kindergarten, Justin learned that frogs are an indicator species – animals, plants, or microorganisms used to monitor drastic changes in our environment. With nearly one-third of frog species on the verge of extinction due to pollution, pesticides, contaminated water, and habitat destruction, Justin realized that his little amphibian friends had something important to say.

"The frogs are telling us the planet needs our help," says Justin.

While it was his love of frogs that led him to understand how important the species are to our ecosystem, it wasn't until he read the children's book What Do You Do With An Idea by Kobi Yamada that Justin-the-activist was born.

Inspired by the book and with his mother's help, he set out on a mission to raise funds for frog habitats by selling toy frogs in his Los Angeles neighborhood. But it was his frog art which incorporated scientific facts that caught people's attention. Justin's message spread from neighbor to neighbor and through social media; so much so that he was able to raise $2,000 for the non-profit Save The Frogs.

And while many kids might have their 8th birthday party at a laser tag center or a waterslide park, Justin invited his friends to the Ballona wetlands ecological preserve to pick invasive weeds and discuss the harms of plastic pollution.

Justin's determination to save the frogs and help the planet got a massive boost when he met legendary conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall.

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather

At one of her Roots and Shoots youth initiative events, Dr. Goodall was so impressed with Justin's enthusiasm for helping frogs, she challenged the young activist to take it one step further and focus on plastic pollution as well. Justin accepted her challenge and soon after was featured in an issue of Bravery Magazine dedicated to Jane Goodall.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


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