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Ad Council + AARP

Camilla's mom had one wish when she fell sick.

She hoped Camilla would do whatever she could to look after her brother, Reggie, who has schizophrenia and intellectual disabilities.

Camilla took the request very seriously, and she brought her brother into her home to live with her. She took him to doctors, got him on the right medications, and began the work of helping Reggie have the best life he can have. At the time, he was afraid to be hugged or touched. Camilla had a long road ahead to help her brother.



In addition to daily life tasks, just spending time with loved ones to keep them mentally engaged is a big part of being a caretaker.

She said it was a point in her life where she realized it's not all about her, and her life became about something more.

A hug is sometimes more than just a hug.

When Reggie first moved in with Camilla, his disabilities made human contact intimidating to him instead of welcoming or reassuring.

But research shows that human connection can be a significant component of healing. It's not good for anyone to go without some kind of caring touch, and it's even more important for those who are ill or disabled to experience it.

A study published in 2006 reports that participants with various mental health concerns like stress, depression, and anxiety who participated in "healing by gentle touch" therapy consistently had significantly reduced amounts of stress following the therapy as well as higher levels of relaxation and coping skills.

Reggie has come a long way. Now he'll easily exchange warm hugs with his sister and with others. It's not just a nicety for him; it is a huge sign of growth and a big milestone regarding his quality of life.

This is the kind of selflessness that caregivers across America are demonstrating every day.

"An estimated 40 million adults in the United States have provided unpaid care to an adult or a child in the prior 12 months." — National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP

So, a local caregivers union wanted to pull together a little surprise for Camilla — to say thank you for her work with her brother, her involvement in homecare support networks, and to help energize her for her road ahead.

How can you pay it forward to a caregiver you know? Sometimes just a kind word or gesture here and there can make a huge difference for someone doing heroic things everyday.

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It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

When people think of the Deep South, especially in states like Mississippi, most people don't imagine a diverse and accepting way of life. People always look at me as if I've suddenly sprouted a unicorn horn when I reminisce on my time living in Biloxi and the eclectic people I've met there, many of whom I call friends. I often find myself explaining that there are two distinct Mississippis—the closer you get to the water, the more liberal it gets. If you were to look at an election map, you'd see that the coast is pretty deeply purple while the rest of the state is fire engine red.

It's also important to note that in a way, I remember my time in Biloxi from a place of privilege that some of my friends do not possess. It may be strange to think of privilege when it comes from a Black woman in an interracial marriage, but being cisgendered is a privilege that I am afforded through no doing of my own. I became acutely aware of this privilege when my friend who happens to be a transgender man announced that he was expecting a child with his partner. I immediately felt a duty to protect, which in a perfect world would not have been my first reaction.

It was in that moment that I realized that I was viewing the world through my lens as a cisgendered woman who is outwardly in a heteronormative relationship. I have discovered that through writing, you can change the narrative people perceive, so I thought it would be a good idea to sit down with my friend—not only to check in with his feelings, but to aid in dissolving the "otherness" that people place upon transgender people.

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As you sit down to eat your breakfast in the morning or grab an afternoon snack, take a minute to consider your food, how it was made, and how it got to your plate.

The fruit on your plate were grown and picked on farms, then processed, packaged and sent to the grocery store where you bought them.

Sounds simple, right?

The truth is, that process is anything but simple and at every step in the journey to your plate, harm can be caused to the people who grow it, the communities that need it, and the planet we all call home.

For example, thousands of kids live in food deserts and areas where access to affordable and nutritious food is limited. Around the world, one in three children suffer from some form of malnutrition, and yet, up to 40% of food in the United States is never eaten.

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I saw this poster today and I was going to just let it go, but then I kept feeling tugged to say something.

Melanie Cholish/Facebook

While this poster is great to bring attention to the issue of child trafficking, it is a "shocking" picture of a young girl tied up. It has that dark gritty feeling. I picture her in a basement tied to a dripping pipe.

While that sounds awful, it's important to know that trafficking children in the US is not all of that. I can't say it never is—I don't know. What I do know is most young trafficked children aren't sitting in a basement tied up. They have families, and someone—usually in their family—is trafficking them.

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Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

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