What would you say to someone who didn't want to live anymore? After hearing about a friend's suicide, Jennifer Michael Hecht tried to find the answer through her poetry.
Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.
Elaine Hamel founded Girls at Work, Inc. in 2000 because to her, empowerment isn't just a buzzword but a way of life. Their mission is to challenge traditional norms and normalize girl power, focusing specifically on uplifting and supporting inner city girls between the ages of 8 and 18, who need stability, safety, and confidence.
The girls attending summer camps or after-school programs work in groups and learn how to problem solve, communicate, and use tools to build something practical. Hamel believes that learning how to use power tools shows the girls that they can do anything they put their minds to, better preparing them for a bright future.
Photo courtesy of TD Bank
Elaine's forward-thinking, positive leadership, and passion for the community is exactly why TD Bank chose to honor her for the 2022 #TDThanksYou campaign, a North American campaign demonstrating the bank’s gratitude and commitment to their customers by celebrating, recognizing, and thanking unsung heroes in exciting and meaningful ways. Hamel is one of six honorees recognized this year and was presented with power tools and gift certificates to purchase additional items needed to enhance the program.
Hamel understands what it feels like to hear the word “can’t.” Growing up, she struggled to find her place in a world that seemed to be built by, and for, men. As a kid she loved to “create or fix things” and always found something to tinker with. Before long, she discovered not only did she enjoy building and repairing things, but she was very good at it.
She spent the next several decades breaking down the multitude of barriers that a woman pursuing a career as a general contractor faced in the 1980s and 1990s.
“It was really brutal when I first started out in construction,” Hamel said. “The men were so cruel. But I grew up with five brothers and I was used to it. I told myself I’d be the boss one day…and now I am.”
Photo courtesy of TD Bank
The process of learning how to become stronger and more confident in her natural abilities sent her career soaring, and drives her life’s work—empowering girls to take up space and take control of their own lives.
“These are kids who grapple with neglect, food insecurity, and extreme poverty,” said Hamel. “They’re not soaring in school because they’re in survival mode. They’re hungry and unable to focus and learn.” Hamel’s solution is a fully stocked food pantry, where the girls can shop for groceries before heading home. Girls at Work, Inc. also has a “kindness closet,” stocked with clothing, shoes, outerwear and other items.
After addressing their immediate needs, the girls are ready to get to work. “There are many programs out there devoted to teaching trades and skills to girls,” said Hamel, “But this is about learning how to think critically and problem solve. Pushing through that is what actually empowers them.”
Photo courtesy of Girls at Work
The nonprofit is a vital part of the community, relying heavily on donations and volunteers to keep it going. For example, a club of retired men volunteer their time to pre-cut the lumber for Girls at Work, Inc.'s projects. The girls use that lumber to create things—like picnic tables, benches, and birdhouses—which in turn are donated to local organizations.
Hamel says she’s built with over 20,000 girls so far, and her goal is to hit one million. Her dream is to secure funding to open up new locations to serve even more communities and says that watching these girls' step into their power and believe in themselves is what keeps her moving forward. The world needs more heroes like her.
To learn more about this year's #TDThanksYou heroes, visit https://www.td.com/us/en/about-us/customers/humans-with-heart
Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.
When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.
Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.
Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.
You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.
Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:
Doggos are basically furry children, so this one’s a no-brainer.
The only thing NOT fun about Legos is stepping on one. Everything else is pure magic.
With each satisfying “pop” sound, just imagine tiny bursts of dopamine flooding the brain.
While it’s true that riding roller coasters might become less physically possible with age, barring that limitation—you’re never too old to ride one.
Playing video games at home is cool, but there's a special thrill in seeing an arcade absolutely buzzing with different game sounds, colored lights and other people enjoying themselves.
Because speeding in real life is irresponsible.
A quintessential sleepover activity that can easily be done with a roommate. Bonus points for surprise attacks.
Whether in toy or nugget form, dinosaurs are a delight.
Halloween costumes can go from a fun form of playful expression in our younger years to a source of self-image issues in our teens and beyond (as so many things in life do). Hopefully though, dressing up for the spooky season can be a highlight on the calendar.
Roller coasters in liquid form!
We no longer have to hide our passion for toys under the serious moniker of “collecting.” Playing with dolls is a fun practice in storytelling and has even shown a very specific set of therapeutic benefits. Permission, granted!
Remember peacefully imagining made-up worlds while staring up at the clouds? Those were good times.
Whether you are a traditionalist or prefer to go crazy and twist yourself up for some epic spins, a swing set is a perfect place to let your inner child out.
Everything is more fun when you do it during a time you technically should be somewhere else.
How we can create equity for all communities?
Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.
Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.
Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)
This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.
To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.
This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.
After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”
“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”
Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).
As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.
Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.
“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”
"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/
The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.
'I was today years old when I realized there was a word for this.'
When I was younger I used to think I was dying or that I would get kidnapped by a random stranger, but I kept it to myself because I thought something was wrong with me. I thought that telling people would confirm this fear, so I kept it inside my entire life until I was an adult and learned it was part of ADHD and other disorders, such as OCD and PTSD. But it doesn't have to be part of a disorder at all—a vast amount of people just have intrusive thoughts, and a Twitter user, Laura Gastón, is trying to normalize them for others.
Gastón tweeted that parents should talk to their children about intrusive thoughts and normalize them so children aren't afraid that they're broken. The response to her series of tweets was overwhelming, with more than 144,000 likes and 19,000 retweets. People chimed in with their own stories of intrusive thoughts and the stigma attached to them. One Twitter user was told that they were possessed and their parents sought spiritual counsel to help them. But intrusive thoughts aren't a spiritual attack, they don't even have to be negative thoughts. Intrusive thoughts are simply thoughts that pop into your head with no reason or logical connection to what is currently happening.
\u201cTalk to your kids about intrusive thoughts. They\u2019re more common than you may realize, and they can be disturbing and scary. Kids don\u2019t know what they are, and they aren\u2019t likely to share they are having them. I cannot even begin to tell you the relief upon learning what they are-\u201d— Laura Gast\u00f3n, Beloved \u2764\ufe0f (@Laura Gast\u00f3n, Beloved \u2764\ufe0f) 1664121581
The name for the phenomenon sounds scarier than it actually is. It may help to think of the thoughts as a pop-up on an online article you're reading. There you are scrolling along, really invested in this article and an ad for teeth whitening strips is suddenly obscuring half the page, so you find the camouflaged "X" and close it out. But somehow before you make it to the bottom of the page, there's that dang pop-up again. That's what it's like to have an intrusive thought most of the time. It's not always scary, it's not all-consuming, it's just there.
There are some intrusive thoughts that are distressing, especially if it's a new thought. Often the thoughts that cause the most distress are the intrusive thoughts around hurting a child or doing something illegal. Having an intrusive thought that is concerning doesn't mean you're going to act on it. Our brains think thousands of thoughts daily and most of the time we are unaware of all of the activity because we're focused on one particular thing, but then we have a pop-up.
You could be struggling with finances in general but at the moment you're working on a collage of sea turtles with your 9-year-old, next thing you know you have an intrusive thought about robbing a bank. Are you going to rob a bank? No, because you're not a bank robber. Well, most people are not bank robbers so having the fleeting thought isn't going to make you become one. It might make you think you've lost it for a few minutes, but it's a completely normal human experience. Intrusive thoughts, not robbing banks.
Kids have intrusive thoughts as well, and it seems from the Twitter thread, that sometimes they're dismissed by parents. Anna tweeted, "yes. I had severe intrusive thoughts in childhood, starting before age 7-8. I told my parents & asked for help but they refused. It was terrifying. I had no idea what was happening." She went on to say that she was diagnosed with OCD as an adult and is currently in therapy.
Another user, Benjamin tweeted, "I was today years old when I learned that there is a word for this. I have a few of these that come in ebbs and flows over the years - at least since early elementary age. Literally have just ignored it and tried to move on 😳 Kinda relieving to know others experience this."
Alicia explained that as a teen she contemplated suicide. "My intrusive thoughts made me fear for the safety of others and I felt the only solace was my passing. I cried tears of joy upon learning they happened to a lot of people."
The responses to the tweet go on and on with people sharing their experiences with intrusive thoughts and some sharing ways they have learned to cope with them. What it all comes down to in the end is that these thoughts are much more common that people realize and it should absolutely be talked about more. No person deserves to walk around assuming they're somehow broken for having a human experience.
This article originally appeared on 02.25.21
Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.
As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.
Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.
The child was sent to the office for refusing to remove his hat in class. "So, I sat down with him and asked him why, what was going on," Smith told WRTV. "He said he just got his haircut, he didn't like the way it looked, and he thought his hairline look a little funny."
Having a haircut that's a little off can be like waving a red flag at middle school bullies. So, Smith decided to fix the situation by offering the child a haircut.
"I've been cutting hair most of my life. I played college basketball and I cut my teammates' hair before games and I've been cutting my son's hair for 17 years so I had professional clippers and edgers at home, so I said, 'If I go home and get my clippers and line you up, will you go back to class,' and he said, 'Yeah, I will,'" Smith said.
A photo of the cut was posted to Facebook where it's been seen over 21,000 times.
After Smith fixed the child's hairline, the student kept up his end of the bargain and returned to class.
"You know that age is a time for peer acceptance. It's huge. And So a young man, especially an African-American young man the barbershop is a big deal in the community. Looking good a representing and presenting yourself is huge for kids," Smith said.
A few days later, Smith posted a photo on Facebook of some memorable cuts he's given in the past. "Who knew a skill that helped me survive in college would be useful 20 years later?" he captioned the post.
via Jason Smith / Facebook
Smith saw the situation as a way to help the child in the moment instead of having to resort to disciplinary actions. From the child's perspective what's worse -- being ridiculed in front of your peers or having a parent get angry?
"We're not disciplining with a hard fist. You could call and have the parent pick up the kid up for defiance. Or you can sit and get to the root of the problem and see what can I do to help you? What do you need right now?" Smith said.
Imagine what the world would be like if more people simply asked each other, "What do you need?"
"He really was not trying to get out of class. He just thought that he would be laughed at. So, we took the time and did what we could to help him," Smith said.
Smith recently posted a quote by professor Brené Brown on Facebook that serves as a great reminder of the practical power of solving problems at the root through compassion and direct action. "Leaders must either invest a reasonable amount of time attending to fears and feelings, or squander an unreasonable amount of time trying to manage ineffective and unproductive behavior."