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NBC's Rise

When Kevin Bohl started high school, he felt like an outsider.

He was the new kid in town, and he and his mother had just moved into a tightknit community.

“Everyone knew everyone else. Picture Bedford Falls from ‘It's a Wonderful Life,’” he says. “I knew no one. It seemed that all of the other freshmen had been going to school forever.”


To not feel invisible, he joined the football team — but he only showed up to one practice.

“I forgot to think about whether I wanted to play football,” he explains. “Turns out, I didn't.”

Back at square one, he could have easily felt discouraged — but that’s when he saw the drama club’s autumn production. He fell in love immediately.

The next semester, he signed up for drama, a decision that would not only change his high school experience, but introduce him to a teacher who he would never forget — Mr. K.

“He gave me my first lead role,” Bohl says. “His trust in me, an unknown kid, meant more to me than he will ever know.”

That role not only placed Bohl in the spotlight, it finally gave him the sense of community for which he was desperately looking.

Kevin Bohl, present day.  Image by Simone Scully/Upworthy.

“[Mr. K] was like no one I'd ever met. He spoke to all of his students like adults. We could curse in class, which was utterly scandalous,” Bohl remembers. “And he chose projects that challenged us. He wanted us to think and feel.”

Being given space to think and feel might seem simple — but it can have a profound effect on teens who are just coming into their own.

“High school students have such fraught emotional lives,” Bohl says. “I can't imagine a discipline better suited to [guiding] a teenager through that time than a drama teacher.”

That’s because drama teachers like Mr. K give students much more than stage directions.They provide a safe haven for teens to express themselves and heal.

Roxanne Schroeder-Arce, an associate professor in the UTeach Theater program at the University of Texas at Austin, knows this better than most. She’s an expert in preparing professionals to teach drama in high schools and knows just how important it is for teachers to empower the youth they work with.

Image via iStock.

“For marginalized youth in particular, theater can be a place where their voices matter,” she explains. “The best theater teachers engage students in the creative process, ask questions, make space for and amplify young people’s voices.”

A teacher who isn’t afraid to tackle the sometimes difficult material that speaks to the kids they’re teaching can have a profound impact on students. The benefits of doing so are undeniable.

With a good teacher, theater becomes more than a fun hobby for kids. It becomes the foundation for better mental health and academic outcomes.

According to the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, drama classes not only improve standardized test scores, they decrease dropout rates and improve self-esteem.

“[Drama teachers] can, and often do, provide empathy for [struggling] kids,” Bohl says. “They can focus students’ disabilities in productive directions.”

Image via iStock.

With this kind of support, students who participate in the arts are three times more likely to win an award for attendance, directly linking investment in the arts to increased engagement at school. In other words, when students are given a voice, they show up.

“[Theater teachers] encourage young people to think critically, consider their role in the world, how to empathize and engage with others,” Schroeder-Arce says. “[These are] skills that we all need to be effective in our work, in our homes, in our communities.”

Today, Bohl — now 51 — is a working actor in New York, and not once has he forgotten the impression that Mr. K left on him.

“To this very day, there is nowhere I feel safer than in a theater or rehearsal space working on a show,” he says. “[Mr. K was] instrumental in instilling my own belief in my abilities, challenging me to stretch them, and making it safe for me to fail.”

Kevin Bohl in a theater.  Image by Simone Scully/Upworthy.

For Bohl that sense of safety was invaluable. “[Drama teachers] are unsung heroes,” he says.

While Bohl began high school feeling invisible, it was teachers like Mr. K who made him feel seen. And while that might seem like a small gesture, it can make all the difference.

Based on a true story, NBC’s new drama "Rise" has inspired us to look for other real stories about the impact of great teachers and drama classes on high schoolers' lives. "Rise" premieres on March 13 after "This Is Us." Click here to see the trailer for this new show.

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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