Funny pictures of kids playing with tampons, condoms, and bras are really about gun safety.

You know how kids are. They'll pretty much play with anything they come across that they find interesting.

Sometimes the things they find are embarrassing but funny.


Things like condoms that look strikingly similar to balloons.

Ad images by Evolve, used with permission.

And tampons and pads. I mean, one turns tiny fingers into talons and the other has adhesive backs. What could be more fun?!

And lingerie. It's colorful, after all.


We definitely can't forget the sex toys. Bright, sword-like, and battery operated, what kid could resist?

I'm willing to bet the farm that there are some fellow parents out there who have a story or two about their kiddos finding any of these items. (I know I'm not alone, whether anyone else will admit it or not!)

But these ads aren't about the funny and sometimes embarrassing things our children discover and appropriate for toys.

Not even close. These were created to make a point.

You know what else might look like an interesting new toy to a child who stumbles upon it?

This:

Photo by iStock.

Yep, that's right. A gun. What makes it any less intriguing to a young child than condoms or sex toys?

The answer is nothing, which is why it's so important to lock up guns to prevent kids from ever getting their hands on them. Storing a gun in a place you don't think kids will find it isn't effective.

Kids are like tiny detective ninjas. They can find anything, particularly when it's not meant for them.

Photo by iStock.

And that's what motivated Evolve, the organization behind these ads, to create them.

The fact is that right now, at this very moment, lots of people own guns. In fact, a recent survey found that about a third of American adults live in a household where one or more guns is present. And that means that plenty of kids live in homes with guns, too.

So don't be distracted: There's no gun control or Second Amendment debate here. We need to talk about how to keep those kids safe — right now, right where they are.

As it says on the Evolve website:

"Yes, there's a raging gun debate out there. But no matter how loud anyone is yelling whatever they're yelling, everyone can agree, we can be safer. Right, responsible gun owner? Right, left-leaning senator? Right, Mom?

We're thinking America can stop shooting itself in the foot. We're thinking everyone can pause the debate for a sec and pay attention to one simple thing: somewhere out there is an unlocked, loaded gun. Don't we all want to reach it before a 3-year-old does?"

Photo by iStock.

Rebecca Bond, one of the founders of Evolve, shared this with me:

"There is a code that parents live by and expect others to uphold as well. To keep children safe. Parents generally expect others to have an even higher code with other people's children. An unsecured gun found by a child is 100% avoidable. ...

Leaving a child around an unsecured firearm is the equivalent of leaving them in a room with a running chainsaw and hoping they make the right choice. ...

We need this discussion to be occurring in homes and among friends and families. Make a choice to buy a gun or not based on your personal choice. Safe handling and securement you do for everyone.



An organization called Project ChildSafe distributes gun lock safety kits across the country. If you have a gun in your home, use their interactive map to find an agency they work with in your state to get a kit to secure it.

While we don't know exactly how many children are involved in accidental shootings each year, one thing is for certain: They happen. "No matter what, we all live with guns and this is everyone's conversation," Bond told me.

We adults can debate gun ownership all day long, but while we're doing it, it's important to make sure guns are secure and don't get in the hands of those curious, creative, oblivious children that we love so much. That's something none of us want them to happen.

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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