Abuse tainted this senator's childhood. No other child will face it on her watch.
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L'Oréal Paris Women of Worth

Growing up, Lauren Book recalls that a shroud of secrecy veiled her family.

All photos courtesy of L'Oreal Paris and Lauren Book.

Her mother lived with a mental illness. Her father, a prominent Florida lobbyist concerned with his public persona, made one thing very clear to her: What happened inside the Book household must stay private by any means necessary.


"He said, 'We don't talk about things that happen in this house,'" Book told NPR in 2012. "That stuck with me always."

That message, Book says, also made her vulnerable to abuse. When Book's nanny — a woman she called Waldy — began to touch her inappropriately when she was 12 years old, Book felt like she had no one to turn to.

"You feel invisible," Book says, "because if anybody actually saw you they wouldn’t allow the things that were happening to you to happen."

The abuse continued for years.

Even after Book told her father about it and her nanny was arrested, the pain that Waldy visited upon her continued to take a physical toll.

Because of how Waldy had manipulated her, Book was wracked with guilt over sending "the one person who loved her" to prison. As a result, she started engaging in self-mutilation and eventually developed anorexia.

It took years for Book to heal and recognize that what had happened to her wasn't her fault.

One essential part of Book's healing was that she help other vulnerable children. She vowed to never let what happened to her happen to another child.

In 2007, she launched Lauren's Kids. The non-profit is predicated upon the evidence-based idea that more than 90 percent of childhood sexual abuse can be prevented with education.

The organization teaches both children and their families about childhood sexual abuse through classroom education and awareness campaigns. It also promotes and supports healing.

"We talk about how important it is to identify behaviors that are unsafe, icky and not quite right with anyone," says Book. "When we started the foundation, it was more geared towards sexual abuse, but really it’s any trauma and how to access help."

In 2013, Book was named a L'Oreal Paris Woman Of Worth for her work with Lauren's Kids. The honor, which as been given to 10 American women yearly since 2007, celebrates those women whose fierce passion for social justice and problem-solving has led to major change in their community.

The award wasn't a culmination of Book's achievements — it was a catalyst that fueled her to take even more action. "Being recognized by L’Oreal Paris as a Woman of Worth really put me on a trajectory to continue to use my voice in a different way, advocating far beyond the things that I ever thought I would," she says.

"Worth to me now represents spirit," she says, "Every single individual has worth and spirit and a driving force. You may not know it or be able to find it yet, but we all have it."

Today, Book is a Florida state senator. She‘s also a mother. Protecting children is her top priority.

That promise extends to every child in Florida.

"On both Kennedy and Hudson’s walls, I have a little saying that is 'Raise hell and change the world,' says Book. "I want my kids to not fall to the childhood I did. I want them, when they see an injustice, to attack it."

What happened to Book shouldn't happen to anyone — and she's making sure of that. Her ability to turn a horrifying experience into motivation for lasting community change, however, is a lasting reminder of the power that one person has to make a life-altering difference for so many others.

To learn more about Book's journey and her work, check out the video below.

It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

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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