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Jake Austin has been volunteering with the homeless in St. Louis, Missouri, for years. But he just recently had a huge epiphany.

Meet Jake. Photo by Shower to the People, used with permission


"Most of my life I've been volunteering in different capacities," he said. "One group was doing food and clothes, and I went down there to help out. They had a hygiene table that was in disarray. So I asked if I could take it over."

Austin started bringing in donations — soaps, shampoos, etc. — and handing them out to folks in need.

But one day, a man politely turned Austin and his donated soap down. And that's when he realized: Donated hygiene items don't do people any good unless they have a safe, comfortable place to use them.

"People will say, 'I have 10 blankets and a bag full of sandwiches, but I haven't showered in months,'" Austin told Upworthy.

For folks who are homeless, a shower can be a rare and sometimes life-changing luxury.

Photo via iStock.

A hot shower might not trump the need for basic things like food and shelter, but that's exactly what makes hygiene such an overlooked need for many people who are homeless.

The fact is, being able to maintain basic hygiene is an absolute must for anyone hoping to secure or hold down a job. It's also a huge factor in warding off disease and infections.

Plus, it's hard to deny the fact that you just feel better when you're clean.

That's why Austin wants to make it easier for people in his city to get clean using an incredible mobile shower truck.

It's like a food truck, but for showers! Photo by Shower to the People, used with permission.

The brilliant name for his new nonprofit? Shower to the People.

Jake bought an old truck off Craigslist for $5,000, and after a successful GoFundMe campaign and help from a bunch of really smart people, he retrofitted it to house two private shower stalls with sinks and mirrors.

The unit hooks up to fire hydrants and heats the water using an external generator, meaning the truck can travel and provide free, warm showers pretty much anywhere in the city.

Photo by Shower to the People, used with permission.

According to Austin, St. Louis has plenty of homeless shelters, but the showers are usually only open to official residents.

"Folks will save up what money they can find and try to get a gym membership. Beyond that they'll use public sinks, libraries, the river. Or they'll go into people's backyards to use the hose," he says.

The Shower to the People truck is an awesome, low-cost solution that offers more privacy, more convenience, better-kept facilities, and shower services for 60 people every day.

So far, Shower to the People and other programs like it are making a big difference.

Austin and his crew, in partnership with FOCUS North America, had the cameras rolling during their truck's first day on the streets, and the reactions said it all.

He recalled one powerful moment:

"A couple of weeks ago there was a girl that came up to the truck. She was kind of crabby. Upset. Rightly so, given her experience. She had kind of an attitude, but we were being as polite as possible. She wanted to shave her legs — we were trying to be efficient, but I said, 'Hey, take as much time as you need.' When she came out, she was glowing. It was such an amazing experience."

GIFs via Shower to the People/YouTube.

It's a little early to tell if increasing access to showers will directly lead to big turnarounds for the folks who participate, but helping them feel a little better is a good start.

Shower to the People isn't the first group to provide showers for folks who are living rough, either.

There are also programs like Lava Mae in San Francisco and Think Dignity in San Diego that offer similar services. And Austin wants to take his own version of a mobile shower unit into more cities soon too.

Austin says, "Our goal isn't just to have clean people on the streets. Our goal is to help get people off the streets."

A hot shower won't solve everything for people living in extreme poverty, but it can be a step in the right direction on the path to a better life.

Kudos to Jake Austin for finding a simple solution to an underserved problem. Let's hope more smart people will be following in his footsteps real soon.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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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.

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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