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Check out a human library, where you borrow people instead of books.

A surely unforgettable experience reaching all corners of the world.

Check out a human library, where you borrow people instead of books.

There are libraries popping up around the world where you can see the books breathe.

You can watch the books blink, cry, laugh, and think. You can ask them any sort of question and get a real answer.

It's what the books hope you'll do.


The library desk at the 2015 Roskilde Festival in Copenhagen, Denmark. All images via the Human Library, used with permission.

At the Human Library, the books are people!

It's set up just like a normal library: You check out a "book" on a certain topic and have an allotted amount of time with it. Only at the Human Library, the book is, well, a human.

People who volunteer to become "books" make their experiences open and available, usually on issues that people tend to have a difficult time discussing. "Readers" are encouraged to ask questions freely, and they'll get honest answers in return. It's brilliant.

What kind of books can you borrow there?

1. Borrow a person with autism.

With 1 in 68 kids diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) today, there's no better way to learn about it than by interacting with someone who has it.

2. Borrow someone who has modified their appearance.

Ever make assumptions about people with lots of piercings and tattoos? Here's an opportunity to stop judging a book by its cover and get to know the inside.

3. Borrow a refugee and hear their story.

You've heard about the Syrian refugee crisis in the news. Why not put the media on hold and talk to an actual refugee?

4. Borrow someone who is transgender.

Perhaps you've always had questions about being transgender but didn't know how to ask them. Go ahead. Get your questions ready.

5. Borrow a homeless person.

What stories do they have of a life you may never know?

6. Borrow someone with deaf-blindness.

Just because they communicate differently doesn't mean their stories are less.

7. Borrow someone who is obese.

Society loves to put people in categories. Break through those boundaries to get a fuller picture.

You can borrow a police officer. A veteran with PTSD. A single mom. A Muslim. Someone in a polyamorous relationship. A former gang member. A sex worker. A welfare recipient. A teacher. The list goes on.

The libraries are bringing people who would otherwise never interact together in a way that many communities long for.

That's what Ronni Abergel has sought to do since the library's launch in 2000. During a four-day test run at the Roskilde Festival in Copenhagen, organizers and festival attendees were stunned at the event's impact.

"The policeman sitting there speaking with the graffiti writer. The politician in discussions with the youth activist and the football fan in a deep chat with the feminist. It was a win-win situation and has been ever since," Ronni said on the Human Library's site.

A no-judgment zone is one key to its impact.

"It's meant to be a safe space to ask difficult questions and not to be judged," he told Upworthy. "To try and gain an important insight into the life of someone you think you know something about, but..."

You don't.

It's been 16 years since that first library event in Denmark. Today, the library has spread to over 70 countries (including the United States!), with openings in South Africa, Sudan, Chile, and Israel planned for 2016.

In our quick-to-judge, increasingly polarized world, it's no wonder these events are growing in size. We need them.

When asked what has changed since these events started, Ronni responded, “The world has changed, for the worse.”

He points to there being less tolerance, less understanding, and less social cohesion than when he first had the idea back in 2000. And unfortunately, he's right.

When we have states discriminating against transgender people using the bathroom, presidential candidates campaigning to ban an entire religion from entering the United States, and countries still facing stigma around Ebola, it can be hard to want to high-five humanity.

There's so much to learn about one another. A group of readers here borrowed a nudist.

It's time to face our fears and confront our stereotypes. To embrace the diversity of this world will allow us to feel more secure in it.

"When you meet our books, no matter who you are and where you are from or which book you will be reading, in the end, inside every person, the result will say: we are different from each other, we see things differently and we live life differently. But there are more things that we have in common than are keeping us apart." Truth.

If there's one immediately impactful way to bring communities together, a Human Library might just be it.

This snapshot from an event at the University of Victoria is a great example of why.



Courtesy of Verizon
True

If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via CNN / Twitter

Eviction seemed imminent for Dasha Kelly, 32, and her three young daughters Sharron, 8; Kia, 6; and Imani, 5, on Monday. The eviction moratorium expired over the weekend and it looked like there was no way for them to avoid becoming homeless.

The former Las Vegas card dealer lost her job due to casino closures during the pandemic and needed $2,000 to cover her back rent. The mother of three couldn't bear the thought of being put out of her apartment with three children in the scorching Nevada desert.

"I had no idea what we were going to do," Kelly said, according to KOAT.

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