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Education

Here are 4 ways you can effect meaningful change as we process yet another mass shooting

It's easy to feel helpless, but here's how to turn that helplessness into action.

mass shooting; texas; gun reform
Photo by Colin Lloyd on Unsplash

Angry and frustrated? Get outside and make your feelings known.

Two mass shootings in less than two weeks. It sounds like some faraway land where citizens fight for their right to freedom. But it’s not some far off land, it’s here in our own backyard. America has a problem—it’s the only developed country in the world that has more mass shootings a year than there are days. We are 144 days into the year and there has already been more than 200 mass shootings, 27 of which were school shootings. Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, is the latest to join that growing list with 19 children and two teachers dying in an elementary school designated for second, third and fourth graders.

Parents and other adults who have lost children at the school are reeling from this unspeakable act of violence. And adults raising children in this country are joining those parents in their grief, but know that collective grief is not enough. People are feeling helpless and want to take action to combat those feelings. It gives our hands and minds something to focus on as our hearts heal.

Here are four things you can do if you’re feeling helpless about gun violence in America.


Connect with advocacy groups

Many gun safety advocacy groups have local chapters or you can connect with them online. Everytown for Gun Safety is the largest gun violence prevention organization in America. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America has chapters in every state and a bunch of resources on their website. Giffords and Brady are two other nonprofits furnishing statistics, resources and ways to get involved. All of these organizations are there to help people have a voice in creating gun laws that make the most sense for the safety of American citizens. No one wants another mass shooting, and joining the fight with one of these organizations can put your anger and frustration to good use.

Run for office

Running for national office may be a privilege reserved for those who can afford to not work for a lengthy period of time leading up to the elections, but that's not so much the case with local elections. And a lot of change is enacted at local and state levels. You don’t have to run to become a member of Congress to elicit change. School boards, county commissioners and other local influential positions can be of great benefit to your community. If you’re interested in finding out more about how to run for an office, look for information on your state's secretary of state website. If you identify as a woman and are unsure of what office to run for, you should check out She Should Run. As well as having a starter kit, trainings and meetings, the organization also has a quiz to help you narrow down the office that would suit you best.

Photo by Rubén Rodriguez on Unsplash

Get involved in other areas of public service

If running for office isn’t your thing, research your local and state candidates and find the ones who support the causes that are important to you and who share your views on preventing gun violence. Your support to their campaign can be in the form of monetary donations, helping with phone banks, texting, canvassing or helping put up signs. Any and every form of support helps for candidates who don't have deep pockets or big donors.

Active participation in politics may be a bit too much for some people. But you can always write your member of Congress or state senator. If you’re computer savvy, you can even create a form letter and share it with others to make it easier for them to contact their representatives. You can also call your state representatives and leave them messages so they know your voice.

Peacefully protest

Something that will help you move from a place of feeling helpless and stuck is to protest. You can organize protests in your area or you can join protests that are already scheduled. You don’t have to be a member of an organization to show up. Grab a piece of poster board and some markers and go exercise your First Amendment right. You have the power to enact change. Every action has a ripple effect and if enough people are speaking up and stepping up, change is bound to happen.

We have to do what we can as adults because active shooter drills should not be part of learning to write your name. Calls from school should be because your child has a tummy ache, not because they’re not coming home. Teachers should only need to worry about correcting minor behaviors and teaching math, not how to teach their classroom to barricade a door. America, we have to do better, and the best way to change outcomes is by putting in the work.

Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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Joy

Tea time: how this boutique blends cultures from around the world

Ethically sourced, modern clothes for kids that embrace adventure, inspire connections and global thinking.

The Tea Collection combines philanthropic efforts with a deep rooted sense of multiculturalism into each of their designs so that kids can grow up with global sensibilities. They make clothes built to last with practicality and adventure in mind. But why "Tea"?

Let's spill it. Tea is a drink shared around the world with people from all different cultures. It is a common thread that weaves the world together. The Tea Collection was born from a love of travel and a love of sharing tea with different people in different places. Inspired by patterns from around the world, these clothes help children develop a familiarity with global communities.

Tea sources their materials ethically and ensures that each of their partners abide to strict codes of conduct. They have a zero-tolerance policy for anything "even slightly questionable" and make sure that they regularly visit their manufacturing partners to ensure that they're supporting positive working conditions.

Since 2003, The Tea Collection has partnered with the Global Fund for Children and has invested in different grassroots organizations that create community empowered programs to uplift kids in need. They donate 10% of their proceeds and have already contributed over $500,000 to different organizations such as: The Homeless Prenatal Program (San Francisco, CA, USA), Door of Faith Orphanage (Baja California, Mexico), Little Sisters Fund (Nepal) and others in Peru, Sri Lanka, India, Italy and Haiti.

But the best part about the Tea Collection? They're also an official member of the Kidizen Rewear Collective, which believes that clothes should stretch far beyond one child's use. They have their own external site for their preloved clothes that makes rewearing affordable. Families can trade in gently used Tea clothes and receive discounts for future products. Shopping the site helps keep clothes out of land fills and reduces the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

By creating heirloom style clothing made to last families can buy, sell, and trade clothes that can be reworn again and again. Because "new to you" doesn't always have to mean never been worn. And let's be honest, we all know how fast kids grow! Shopping preloved clothes is a great way to keep styles fresh without harming the environment or feeling guilty about not getting the most out of certain styles.

But don't just take our word for it! Head over to the Tea Collection and see for yourself!

Upworthy has earned revenue through a partnership and/or may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

Education

Teacher of the year explains why he's leaving district in unforgettable 3-minute speech

"I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."

Lee Allen

For all of our disagreements in modern American life, there are at least a few things most of us can agree on. One of those is the need for reform in public education. We don't all agree on the solutions but many of the challenges are undeniable: retaining great teachers, reducing classroom size and updating the focus of student curriculums to reflect the ever-changing needs of a globalized workforce.

And while parents, politicians and activists debate those remedies, one voice is all-too-often ignored: that of teachers themselves.

This is why a short video testimony from a teacher in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County went viral recently. After all, it's hard to deny the points made by someone who was just named teacher of the year and used the occasion to announce why he will be leaving the very school district that just honored him with that distinction.

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