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An 8-year-old girl rescued from abusive parents wrote the sweetest note to her social worker heroes.

"I think that if you never helped me my life would still be awful and lonely. Because they might not help me, not feed me or they would hit me when I cried. But now I'm much better. I now have a safe happy environment."Trigger warning for discussion of child abuse.

An 8-year-old girl rescued from abusive parents wrote the sweetest note to her social worker heroes.

When she was just 8 months old, Marie was admitted to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, bringing with her injuries that would affect the rest of her life.

She weighed just 14 pounds and had suffered 14 fractures. Additionally, Marie's spinal cord was injured, leaving her paraplegic.

Marie's mother and her boyfriend were arrested. She was placed in the care of social worker Michelle Surprenant, who would eventually adopt her.



Though she's unable to walk, Marie has enjoyed a happy and healthy life.

She's taken trips to Disney World, learned to swim, attended art camps and drama clubs, and done just ... well, kid stuff.

Now 9 years old, Marie wants to let the world know just how special the detectives and social workers who helped her are. At age 8, she decided to write a letter to the people who helped her so much as a small child.

The letter reads:

Dear social workers and detectives,

I want to thank you for making me happy by giving me a new warm and safe environment. Now I have a home that is nice, and I have three nice meals a day. This is Marie Rose Surprenant. When I was a baby I got hurt and you were on my case. When I was little I got hurt and I wasn't going to walk at all. I couldn't walk because my spinal cord was broken and couldn't be fixed. So they asked how I got hurt in the ER. But I lied and said that I fell out the bed. So then that's when you got involved and solved my case and not letting the bad guy hurting me or anyone else.

I think that if you never helped me my life would still be awful and lonely. Because they might not help me, not feed me or they would hit me when I cried. But now I'm much better. I now have a safe happy environment. I'm also around smart people.
Now my life is much better. But the only thing that drives me crazy is our pet dog is named Jo. She snores as loud as a vacuum and sounds like an old man. I also have two cats their names are Gypsy and Mr. Fluffy. Gypsy is grey all over and has green eyes. She likes to play with yarn mice, she likes cat scratchers, she is very curious and likes to watch what we are doing all the time.

And Mr. Fluffy is a black and white cat with green eyes too. He likes to sleep on his beach chair all day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. But he's active at night. I love pets but I love lizards. My favorite lizard is a bearded dragon. My class has a class pet that is a bearded dragon his name is Mr. Cuddles.

I wish that you keep doing what you do to make the world a better place and to make kids feel protected. I also wish that no matter how big or small the case is you will at least try and help the kids.

Love,
Marie











Michelle shares Marie's gratitude, writing in a blog post:

"Her future looks bright, and we know very well that none of this success would have been possible without the amazing team of social workers, detectives and medical staff in Atlanta. Thank you for being the stepping stone that this little, baby girl needed." — Michelle Surprenant

This is Marie's story, but it's also that of so many others.

According to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, roughly 1 in every 50 infants is the victim of child abuse each year. Additionally, they estimate that 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused by the time they reach their 18th birthday.

Social workers save lives, and though most won't get the credit they deserve, they keep working away to create a better world for those they care for.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."