Heroes

Feeling bad about your debt? Seychelles just used theirs to save the ocean.

The plan will help protect an area of ocean larger than Germany!

Feeling bad about your debt? Seychelles just used theirs to save the ocean.
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League of Conservation Voters

Go to Kenya, run down to the coast, and swim kind of east-ish for a thousand miles, and you'll hit the Seychelles archipelago.


Image from Didier Baertschiger/Flickr.

Made up of 115 islands, they don't have a ton of land or a huge population, but they do have some amazing biodiversity. Fish and coral reefs throng the waters, and giant tortoises plod around on land.

The nation's pretty serious about its conservation; their constitution even guarantees citizens the right to an ecologically healthy environment.

They also have, like, the coolest flag ever. Image from Vxb83/Wikimedia.

And, like many nations these days, they owe some debt. But something pretty clever just happened.

In a debt swap deal between the government of Seychelles, its international creditors, and The Nature Conservancy's NatureVest investment branch — plus some negotiating help from the French government — Seychelles may have just turned some of its national debt into money to protect their awesome environment.

Wait, how does that even work?

Basically, the Seychelles owed some people money. NatureVest came along and said, "You know that debt you owe? We'll loan you about $30 million so that you can pay some of it off. But, in return for paying of your debt, we want you to put the money you would have paid into this special trust fund we're setting up."

The trust fund, meanwhile, will use some of the money to reimburse NatureVest's initial investors (who ponied up most of the loan). But some of it will go into a long-term endowment too. And, a large chunk, about $6 million overall, will go to funding conservation projects.

So the creditors get paid, Seychelles gets more money for conservation, and NatureVest gets a little extra bang for its investment buck. It's kind of a win-win-win.

Image from Olivier Cochard-Labbé/Flickr.

It's like a bank took your car loan and used it to build a park next to your house.

The plan will help turn about 100 million acres of sea into marine protected areas over about five years. That's an area larger than Germany!

The money will also help fund projects to manage and protect their coasts, mangroves, and coral reefs.

This is really good news for Seychelles. Fishing and tourism combined make up about a third of all the jobs and a quarter of the GDP in Seychelles, so protecting their rich, beautiful waters is pretty dang important. Losing those two industries would be like the U.S. losing all of its manufacturing, retail, and wholesale trading jobs.

It's really hard to overstate how vital a healthy ocean is to Seychelles' prosperity. Image via Nina/Flickr.

The money couldn't come sooner. Climate change is going to make things rough.

Seychelles, like a lot of low-lying island nations, is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Coral bleaching could kill off their reefs. Rising sea levels and stronger storms could flood their land.

But this new deal could give Seychelles a little extra oomph in their preparations and response. If it turns out to be successful, it could be a blueprint for deals with other island nations.


Image from Simisa/Wikimedia Commons.

Protecting our oceans is one of the best things we can do to ensure everyone access to a healthy, stable global environment.

If you're interested in helping out but aren't sure what to do yet, sign this petition from the League of Conservation Voters showing Congress your support for the Clean Power Plan.

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."