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A popular board game gets rid of competition and gives players a more meaningful goal: teamwork.

Here's a type of board game you may not be used to. It's fun, insanely fast-paced, and winning means saving the world ... through teamwork!

A popular board game gets rid of competition and gives players a more meaningful goal: teamwork.

In the board game Pandemic, there are no winners if there are losers.

Huh? Then how am I supposed to win?

That's not really the point.


In this cooperative board game, you play to save the world. Not just yourself. But everyone. If players lose, the world is consumed by disease and everyone dies. Delightful, huh? But when you win, victory belongs to everyone!

The objective is simple: Keep everyone alive.

Oh, and if your favorite board-game victory so far is that time you built 38 hotels on Park Place and Boardwalk, throwing everyone else into bankruptcy, trust me, this is way more fun (and a lot less sadistic).

Here are five lessons from Pandemic to get you saving the world — on the board ... OR IN LIFE!

1. You've got to have friends. So reach out!

Remember the saying "No man is an island." That was not a question. Remember it anytime you feel overwhelmed. The cards — and life — will throw some tough puzzles to crack, and other people's perspectives can help you solve them.

2. Teamwork makes the dream work.

In Pandemic, players either work together to beat the game (by curing all the diseases) or the game beats them (and everyone dies). That's right! It's us against the world, baby! Sound familiar? Because that's what being a human is!

3. There's strength in numbers. The more people you help, the better your chances of saving the world.

Image by The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Once enough people in a given population are immunized against an infectious disease, that limits the chances of an outbreak of that disease. It's called herd immunity. And it's why we use vaccines.

But the same concept can apply to cooperation. Teaching selflessness is like vaccinating families, teams, or even entire communities against that jerk who can ruin it all, like the occasional domineering player in Pandemic.

4. You can't always get what you want. But if you try, you can get what you need.

Matt Leacock invented Pandemic. His goals are pretty straightforward.

In Pandemic, outbreaks will happen. But if every player has their eye on the prize, there is hope for survival despite many disastrous setbacks. Most of our daily challenges may not be of an on-the-verge-of-apocalypse nature, but when we're problem-solving, it's important to bear in mind the real need behind our judgments and actions.

5. Winning comes in many forms, large and small.

Image by Toms Baugis/Flickr.

A Pandemic victory is the rescue of humanity from four killer diseases. Huge, right? But we can always spot little wins riddled throughout everyday life — like, say, using a board game to teach your kids some fundamentals of being a good person.

Family gaming website The Board Game Family named Pandemic in their top 10 must-have family games. They appreciate that Pandemic and other cooperative games teach kids this truly worthy lesson: working together, not rolling the dice, is how you win.

"The first time we played a cooperative board game we knew we'd found something cool. There weren't hurt feelings from being beat. And there weren't accusations of being picked on by a sibling. Instead there was a lot of teamwork as we tried to win the game together."
TheBoardGameFamily.com

If what you want in a game night is a chance to collaborate and practice being better humans, give cooperative board games a whirl.

Here's a backgrounder on Pandemic, courtesy of Ozy:

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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