Could we create the healthiest generation yet? These innovators think so.
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Johnson & Johnson

What do you imagine when you picture the next generation?

If you’re picturing a kid mindlessly scrolling on a phone, it’s time to dream bigger.

Whether you’re a “baby boomer” or a “millennial,” each generation has its own unique identity.  And with two billion people being born between 2011 and 2025, many of us are left wondering what the next generation will look like — and how history will come to define them.


Maybe they’ll be Gen Alpha or Gen Tech, as some futurists have suggested. They could be the generation that translates a thought to a tweet in seconds, their phones always at the ready. They’ll definitely be the generation unable to remember a time when the internet wasn’t in their back pocket.

But maybe there’s another way to define this coming generation.

Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash.

Instead of Gen Tech, some innovators are calling this coming generation Gen H — a generation that isn’t just tech-savvy, but instead, the healthiest yet.

As technology and research advances, so does the potential for greater health and dignity. We need smart solutions that connect the dots between innovation and health, especially from health providers who know the landscape better than anyone else.

That’s why initiatives like the GenH Challenge were created — to give providers the tools they need to make an impact on health for future generations.

Launched this year, this challenge enables teams of innovators to address some of the pressing global health issues we face today. It gives teams a platform to develop their ideas, and the necessary support and mentorship to make it a reality and each team includes someone who’s delivering care directly to areas with limited to no resources, with solutions tailored to the local culture and community they’re serving.

This year's competition certainly made waves. They received over 300 proposals for projects across 54 countries and six continents. And it’s backed by a million dollar investment that goes straight towards realizing the six finalists’ ideas.

Photo via Johnson & Johnson.

The GenH projects underway already have the potential to make a big impact on the next generation.

Pneumonia, for example — a completely treatable illness — is still the leading killer of children globally. Amoxicillin, the antibiotic and leading treatment for pediatric pneumonia, still remains inaccessible in impoverished regions where it’s needed most.

That’s why one  solution — NutMox — is already in the works thanks to one of the GenH teams. It’s a stable formulation, suitable even for kids who can’t swallow or chew pills yet. And it’s peanut butter-based, which isn’t just delicious, but also ideal for regions where malnutrition is the norm.

It seems unjust that anyone should die from an easily treatable condition, especially when the solutions already exist. That's why the GenH Challenge is not only committed to addressing this, but is doing so in creative ways, specifically tailored for each region.

To that end, the Ghana Hernia Society was established. The team behind it is developing an entire curriculum to teach non-surgeon care providers to repair inguinal hernias with surgical mesh, which could prevent painful, disfiguring, and even deadly outcomes.

Photo by 2Photo Pots on Unsplash.

Electronic medical records are another critical advancement in medicine — helping reduce errors and provide critical data for treatment — but they still remain inaccessible in much of the developing world. That's why the Ihangane Project is bringing these tools to Rwanda in a new way to help combat the HIV/AIDS and malnutrition epidemic impacting the region.

Another finalist, Ruchit Nagar, developed a digital necklace that actually contains a family’s medical records, called Khushi Baby. For regions lacking a centralized health record system, this innovation is critical. It increases access to that information for providers, while also tailoring it in a culturally-appropriate way for families.

Photo by journey yang on Unsplash.

Mothers are especially vulnerable when giving birth, another challenge that finalists are determined to tackle. For mothers who have just given birth and are hemorrhaging, a voice-activated tool now exists that guides a frazzled or inexperienced healthcare provider through that crisis.

Barakat Bundle, too, is advocating for maternal and infant health. They've worked with South Asian communities to develop a box of supplies for expectant mothers that could double as a safe sleep cradle, ensuring mother and baby are prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

Photo by Loren Joseph on Unsplash.

These six projects truly embody what the competition is all about — creative, locally-led solutions for some of the most pressing global health issues faced by children, families, and entire communities.

With so many innovative ideas, we could improve health around the world because when we support innovation on the ground, we can transform health care for generations to come. And while we can’t predict the future, efforts like the GenH Challenge indicate that there’s plenty of reason to be hopeful.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.