A mom's post about a Halloween costume is going viral on Facebook. Thank you, Target!

Jen Kroll got pretty excited when she saw a recent Target ad.

No, it wasn't because of the "buy one, get one half off" sweater deal. It wasn't even because flannel sheets were 15% off.

Nope, not at all. (Though, flannel sheets do sound nice...)


Here's what made her week: a photo of an Elsa Halloween costume.

The ad meant so much to her that she posted it on Facebook and had this to say:

Kroll's Facebook post, shared with her permission.

Do you see what Jen saw? The model sporting the dress worn by Elsa of "Frozen" fame has arm crutches!

Yes, that's a big deal. Especially for Jen because here's a photo of her incredibly cute daughter, who just so happens to love Elsa:

I mean, seriously. Can you even with the adorableness?! Photos by Jen Kroll, used with permission.

I reached out to Jen, who's a photographer and mom to three kids, to find out more about her daughter's story.

Jen's youngest child, Jerrensia, came to her family on a medical visa from Haiti in 2011. She was just 14 months old at the time. "The closest diagnosis she fits into is Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC)," Jen explained to me. That basically means that she has significant issues with her joints. "Specifically," says Jen, "her hip sockets never formed properly, [her] knees were locked at a 90 degree angle, [her] feet were clubbed, and she lacked nearly all muscle tone in her legs."

For two years, Jerrensia was in intense physical therapy. Unfortunately, she didn't make much progress and "despite innovative orthotics, we made the difficult decision to amputate her legs through the knees," Jen shared. And while that must have been a difficult decision, it turned out to be the difference between being completely reliant on a wheelchair to get around and having more mobility options.

Today, Jerrensia is an active 5-year-old who "walks and RUNS everywhere on prosthetic legs and uses arm crutches to compensate for the lack of muscular development in her legs," Jen explained.

Amazing!

Mother and daughter, having some fun with selfies!

Jen talked about the ad and what normalizing disabilities through advertising and media means to kids like her daughter — and, just as importantly, what it means to kids who don't have disabilities.

"In mainstream culture, perfection is valued," she said. (Can I get an amen?!) "Special needs families exist in a subculture. The challenges we face are shared with those who understand them. And we're virtually invisible to the outside world."

Even more than being perceived differently — or worse, being invisible — children with special needs face distinct disadvantages in the world. Jen shared these stories with me that, sadly, aren't uncommon:

"While we have an incredible school that has embraced our daughter and are actively working to provide the best environment conducive to learning, another friend has recently been forced to hire an attorney at great personal cost because her school will not provide safe and accessible entry and exit from the building. Her kids are treated as an inconvenience. This is still happening every day in America.

While we have great acceptance and love in our little social circles, stepping outside of them is a different experience. Our daughter becomes a circus side show and many people lose all their manners. Recently at the zoo, we experienced a school group of a dozen children between the ages of 8-10 who circled our daughter in a play area. They swarmed her, pointing, laughing, and staring at her legs. It was brutal for a 5-year-old. And it took everything in me to not go Mama Bear in the absence of their teachers and chaperones."

"People do not see children like my daughter very often," Jen said. "They don't SEE children with disabilities."

Jen talked about how there aren't many movies with lead characters who have disabilities or special needs, and when they are included, it's usually to teach a lesson to another character.

"So when I saw Target place a child with Spina Bifida front and center, advertising Disney's sweetheart, Elsa, it brought me to tears," she said. "This little girl was no longer invisible. Arm crutches and leg braces were demystified. Target made an effort to make her a part of mainstream culture. Not as an object lesson, but as a beautiful child with a great smile who was clearly excited about being Elsa."

BOOM.

That matters, because sooo many kids with beautiful smiles just like Jerrensia's are complex human beings. They weren't put on this Earth to serve as lessons for others. If our kids can grow up in a world where special needs and disabilities are normalized, others won't perceive them as oddities but as the unique individuals they are.


Kids learn from the world around them, which is why the world around them should be inclusive and representative.

When Jen showed the Target ad to her three kids — 5-year-old Jerrensia and her older brothers, ages 9 and 13 — they were all excited.

One said, “Look at Elsa! She has crutches just like you!" Jerrensia was thrilled. She shouted, "Wow! Just like me!"

Jen summed it up so well, so I'll leave you with her words as a parting thought:

"We work very, very hard to make sure that her little corner of the world is anything but lonely and void of other children with similar abilities. But as far as media is concerned — there is a vast emptiness of children with whom she can relate. A Target ad with one precious little girl dressed as Elsa met her where she was and made the world a little more beautiful and friendly."

Thank you, Target! Now it's time for other retailers to jump on board this important train!

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.