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Two years ago, Anja Busse, then 11, created a video and online petition urging popular toymaker American Girl to add a little something to its lineup of toy offerings.

Three months earlier, Anja had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that causes the body to stop producing insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugars. Without replacing insulin, either via multiple daily injections or an insulin pump, a Type 1 diabetic like Anja will die.


Anja with one of her two American Girl dolls. Photos courtesy of Ingrid Bussy, used with permission.

And while Anja loved her American Girl dolls, she wanted them to be more like her. Specifically, Anja wanted to have for her dolls the very things that literally keep her alive, like an insulin pump and blood-testing meter.

It's a big adjustment to be diagnosed with a life-altering disease as a child.

I know because I was also diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 9 years old. One minute, I was packing for my first week away from home: sleep-away Girl Scout camp. The next minute, plans changed and I was packing for a week at the hospital. While I was supposed to be doing fun camp stuff like riding horses, doctors at the hospital were figuring out how much insulin I'd need to survive and teaching my parents and I how to avoid possible long-term complications like blindness and kidney failure.

It's possible to live very well with Type 1 diabetes, but it's a challenge for a young child to transition into this new life.

Anything that helps make that easier on a child is always welcome, and for many kids who like dolls, it's natural to want their dolls to reflect their reality.

Anja's petition received over 4,000 signatures and some media attention, but not much happened ... until two weeks ago, when American Girl released a diabetes care kit!

Post from Diabetic American Girl, Anja and Ingrid's Facebook page that supported her petition. Used with permission.

The new American Girl Diabetes Care Kit includes all the things a Type 1 diabetic needs: a blood sugar monitor, lancing device, insulin pump, insulin pen, medical bracelet, glucose tablets, log book, ID card, stickers, and carrying case.

Product photos provided by American Girl, used with permission.

Anja was thrilled.

"I'm so excited!!! I feel like this is something that will really help diabetic kids cope with this disease and make them not feel alone," she said as her mom, Ingrid Busse, and I chatted over Facebook for this story.

Anja and her American Girl doll, complete with her new diabetic accessories.

And she wasn't the only one!

Lots of parents shared photos on Anja and Ingrid's Facebook page of their adorable kids who have Type 1 diabetes with their newly accessorized dolls:

Photos originally posted by the Diabetic American Girl Facebook page (run by Anja's mom, Ingrid) with permission of the photo owners, shared here with Ingrid's permission.

"We are so excited that diabetic kids will be able to walk into any American Girl doll store now and be able to see and buy a doll that truly looks like them," Ingrid said.

The new kits are wonderful for the kids, but they're also great for teaching others about the challenges children with Type 1 diabetes face.

One thing Ingrid would like everyone to know is that there's no cure for her daughter's disease.

"The majority of people don't know the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and [there] are a lot of misconceptions," she told me. "People tell us that she got it from eating too much sugar or that they know of a diet that will cure it. ... To survive, [Type 1 diabetics] need to prick their fingers six to ten times a day, count the carbs in everything they eat so they take the right amount of insulin, and take insulin injections four to six times a day or via an insulin pump that is attached to them."

With any luck, these new toys will be beneficial to both the kids who have the disease and those around them.

This isn't the first time American Girl has made an effort to create toys for kids facing differences or challenges.

They've made several accessories, like a hearing aid:

And arm crutches:

And even a lunch kit for kids with food allergies:

American Girl also created a line of dolls without hair, which could be comforting to children who have lost their hair to chemotherapy.

It's easy to roll our eyes and say kids don't need toys that are just like them.

But the truth is that having their real lives reflected by their toys is a big deal for a lot of kids — and it's a big deal for everyone else, too.

The challenges kids face are sometimes made just a tiny bit easier when their dolls can experience them, too. Take Jerrensia, for example. This vivacious 6-year-old uses arm crutches to walk with her prosthetic legs.

Jerrensia in the American Girl store, where she did some shopping as part of her sixth birthday celebration. Photos by Jen Kroll, shared with her permission.

Jerrensia's mom Jen Kroll's Facebook post about a Target ad showing a child using arm braces went viral late last year. Jerrensia was excited to see a child just like herself in an advertisement. Jen was excited for others to have the opportunity to see a child like Jerrensia in an advertisement.

At the time, Jen told me every step that makes the challenges children face when they have special needs and different abilities more mainstream is a big deal. American Girl dolls are widely known and loved, so how great is it for everyone to see these differences?

When I brought the arm braces for American Girl dolls to her attention, Jen was in tears. Jerrensia is a big American Girl fan (as you can see in these photos!), and having a big part of herself reflected in her toy means the world to Jerrensia.

And that right there is reason enough to appreciate these options.

It's exciting to see that toy manufacturers are listening to consumers.

"We’re thrilled with the reaction that we’re hearing from our young fans and their parents," Stephanie Spanos from American Girl wrote to me via email about the response the diabetic kit has drawn.

While nobody from American Girl reached out to Anja or Ingrid, I think it's safe to say that companies are taking notice of consumers' desires. And I know American Girl dolls are pricey and out of many families' budgets, but what if all toymakers got on board with offering more options?

We can all take a page out of Anja Busse's book and do our best to make our voices heard!

Images provided by Pacifico

Making waves in the best way

True

At last, summer is here. And for many people, that means it's time for heading to the beach and maybe even catching some waves. Surfing is a quintessential summertime activity for those who live in coastal communities—it’s not only really fun and challenging, it’s also a great way to celebrate Mother Nature’s beauty. Even after a wipeout, the cool water mixed with warm sunshine offers a certain kind of euphoria. Or, you know, just hanging back on the sand is plenty fun too. Simply being outdoors near the ocean is its own reward.

pacifico quiksilver beach cleanupLet’s protect the places where outdoor adventure happensAll photos provided by Pacifico

However, it's well known that our beautiful beaches are suffering the consequences of overcrowding, pollution and littering. What was once a way of playing in nature is now slowly destroying it. And of course, this affects beachgoers everywhere. The sad truth is—without taking action to preserve all the natural joys the earth provides, we will eventually lose them.

But there is hope. Two popular brands that both have roots in surf culture have teamed up to help make trips to the beach a more sustainable pastime. The best part? You don’t have to know how to hang ten in order to participate.

Pacifico®, a pilsner-style lager originally brought to the U.S. by surfers, and Quiksilver, an iconic apparel company loved by both surfers and beach goers alike, have created a brand-new range of clothing and accessories with sustainability in mind.

Take a look below. These threads are great for all kinds of fun in the sun, without compromising the environment.

pacifico quicksilver beach cleanupsReady to make some waves

The collection launches on July 5 and includes tees and woven shirts, boardshorts, hats, flip-flops and a special beach towel and tote bag. The unique collaboration features the vibrant, colorful designs that are the hallmark of Quiksilver combined with Pacifico elements, created to make a positive impact.

Each item has been thoughtfully curated to minimize an environmental footprint and protect the outdoors. The hats, for example, are made from NetPlus® by Bureo®, a raw material created from South American recycled fishing nets. Additionally, the board shorts are made from recycled plastic bottles, and tees are made with 100% organic cotton. Pretty rad stuff, to put it in surfer lingo.

The prices on these pieces are equally rad, ranging from $28 flip-flops to $60 boardshorts.

In keeping with the sustainable ethos and protecting the places we play, Pacifico and Quiksilver will celebrate the products’ launch by hosting two beach cleanups. The first is on July 5 at Sunset Point in Malibu, California, from 4-5:30pm, and the second is on July 9th at Deerfield Beach in Florida from 8:30 – 10:30am.

pacifico quicksilver clothing lineCleaning up and looking good while doing it

Theses beach cleanups are open to anyone over the age of 21 who’s ready to have some fun while taking care of nature’s playground.

Those who can’t make it to the beach (bummer, dude) don’t have to miss out on all the fun. The new collection will be available on July 5th at www.quiksilver.com/mens-collab-pacifico. And even if you don’t surf, never plan to surf, have no desire to even be near a surfboard, rest assured, the apparel is still cool. Plus sustainable choices are always good fashion.

Our planet provides us with an endless supply of beauty and adventure. But without more mindful actions from humanity, its natural wonders will eventually diminish. Fortunately Pacifico and Quiksilver are making it easier than ever for people to enjoy the great outdoors without jeopardizing it. That’s a wave worth riding.

Photo by Syed Ali on Unsplash

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As much as I love summer, there is one thing I could do without: bugs. More specifically, mosquitoes. Those pesky little buggers can wreak havoc on a beautiful summer day. Who hasn't spent time outside in summer and then come in all itchy and covered in bites? There are multiple reasons why some people are more susceptible to mosquito bites than others, but there's a new one that likely isn't on people's radars. Mosquitoes could be attracted to the odor certain viruses create in the body.

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The dog lovers in your neighborhood.

Is there anything that dogs can’t improve? They make us healthier, happier and even more attractive. That’s right. If you have a photo with your dog in a dating profile people are more likely to swipe right.

Now, a new study reported by Ohio State News shows that having more dogs in your neighborhood can make you safer by lowering the overall crime rate.

The study, conducted by sociologists at Ohio State, was recently published in the journal Social Forces.

According to researchers, dog-walking isn’t just about getting exercise—it makes us all security guards whether we know it or not.

“People walking their dogs are essentially patrolling their neighborhoods,” Nicolo Pinchak, lead author of the study, told Ohio State News. “They see when things are not right, and when there are suspect outsiders in the area. It can be a crime deterrent.”

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This article originally appeared on 09.06.17


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Here are some hilarious tweets that just about every married couple will understand.

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