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Field trips cost money. So they came up with a brilliant plan to bring the fun straight to kids.

Instead of bringing the kids to the world, this nonprofit is bringing the world to kids.

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At my middle school, the “cultural education" element of Spanish class consisted of reading about Spanish-speaking countries in a textbook ... and an annual potluck day.

Don't get me wrong — I love a good tamale as much as the next person! But eating culturally inspired meals can only get you so far in terms of cross-cultural understanding.

Teachers and schools understand this, too, which is why field trips and visits to museums are built in to most schools' curricula. But that can be expensive, and many schools don't have the funds to take their students off-campus to learn about other cultures very often.


The Connecting Cultures Mobile Museum is a great solution to small field trip budgets. GIFs via ConnectingCulturesMM/YouTube.

One nonprofit saw this problem in their own backyard, so they devised an ingenious solution to provide cultural education to under-resourced schools.

Instead of bringing the kids to a museum, they would bring the museum to the kids.

Los Angeles' Connecting Cultures museum on wheels is now 20 years old, and thousands of kids (most of whom attend low-income schools) have gotten to see the world each year, all without leaving their own campuses.

The mobile museum has three main exhibits.

There's the commercial collection, which focuses on resources, trade, and colonization. The spiritual exhibit teaches kids about world religions, rituals, and music.

But my favorite is the "Everyday Connections" exhibit. It shows kids the stuff that other cultures considered parts of their day-to-day lives — boring details that we probably wouldn't think to share but are actually super-interesting to learn about. Students get to try on clothes that people from other countries wear, see what games they play, and learn about what other cultures cook and eat.

Image provided by Connecting Cultures.

Remember how awesome it was when the Scholastic Book Fair set up shop at your school for a week?

The whole idea of the museum-on-wheels is kind of similar … except instead of buying books, students get to learn about other countries' ways of life.

Students can grind and taste their own spices at the museum.

The museum staff drive to different schools each week to set up a collection of artifacts in a big room inside the school, like the library. Kids get an opportunity to explore the museum during their social studies class. They learn about the artifacts — but unlike some museums, they also get to pick up and touch some of the things on display.

That means there isn't a glass case between you and the thing you're supposed to be learning about — it's right there in front of you.

Image via Connecting Cultures.

This is especially important because we all learn in different ways. Some students may be able to absorb lots of information about, say, what goes on in a Moroccan marketplace by seeing a market on a video and hearing the market's ambient sounds. Other students might learn better by handling a 50 dirham note or touching the fabric that a vendor might sell.

The point here is that there's a huge difference between looking at a picture in your world geography textbook and actually holding a piece of culture in your hands.

Kim Moreno, a teacher at a school that hosted the mobile museum, said the exhibit allowed her students — a group of kids with diverse, international backgrounds and families — to understand each other better. Rather than relying on stereotypes, the mobile museum gave them a way to see other cultures as three-dimensional and real.

This is the type of learning that I can really get behind.

The Connecting Cultures Mobile Museum leaves a lasting impression on students, and we need more programs like it

In the words of the mobile museum's founder, Valerie Lezin, “I can take kids from bewilderment to understanding, and from shock to acceptance."

Check out this video of students getting the full mobile museum experience here:

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

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The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

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via Pexels

If you know how to fix this tape, you grew up in the 1990s.

There are a lot of reasons to feel a twinge of nostalgia for the final days of the 20th century. Rampant inflation, a global pandemic and political unrest have created a sense of uneasiness about the future that has everyone feeling a bit down.

There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

But, you gotta admit, that TV is still pretty damn good.

A lot of folks feel Americans have become a lot harsher to one another due to political divides, which seem to be widening by the day due to the power of the internet and partisan media.

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Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

Screenshot taken from a live video of the trial.

A recent (and fairly insensitive) sketch from “Saturday Night Live” said it best regarding the widespread fixation many have on the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial:

“It’s not the most pertinent story of the moment, but with all the problems in the world, isn’t it nice to have a news story we can all collectively watch and say ‘glad it ain't me?’”

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Trial Cold Open - SNL www.youtube.com

Schadenfreude, celebrity fascination and previously inaccessible information now being at our fingertips is a potent combination in this trial, making amateur lawyers and psychologists of all who feel compelled to unleash their hot takes. And though the right to converse and speculate exists, is it always in our best interests to do so? Especially when it means potentially spreading misinformation, or at the cost of empathy and compassion?

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Photo from Upworthy Library

A proud sloth dad was caught on camera.

Teddy the two-toed sloth has become a proud papa and thanks to a video posted by the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, we all get to witness the adorable reunion with his newborn son.

Mama sloth, aka Grizzly, gave birth to their healthy little one in Feb 2022, which delighted more than 3,000 people on Facebook.



The video, posted to the Florida zoo’s YouTube page, shows Grizzly slowly climbing toward her mate, who is at first blissfully unaware as he continues munching on leaves. Typical dad.

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