+
A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
We are a small, independent media company on a mission to share the best of humanity with the world.
If you think the work we do matters, pre-ordering a copy of our first book would make a huge difference in helping us succeed.
GOOD PEOPLE Book
upworthy
More

Her sick baby brother was treated cruelly — here's what the experience taught her.

True
March of Dimes

When my mom, Sandra Haggberg, was 8 years old, she was told that she was going to have a baby brother.

The news was exciting — she already had two little sisters, so a little brother was bound to be different. She couldn't wait to meet him.

‌My mother, Sandra, with her mother, Virginia, at a farm in Minnesota. Image from the Haggberg family, used with permission. ‌


But when Mark was born on Sept. 17, 1957, the doctors knew right away that something was wrong. His ear was folded over onto itself and his head was out of proportion with the rest of his body.

A specialist was called in to examine him, X-rays were performed, and it was revealed that Mark was born with only one kidney, and it was abnormally small — about the size of peanut. His pituitary gland was also barely functioning and he had congenital hydrocephalus, a condition that causes an accumulation of fluid in the brain.

Mark was immediately transferred to the University of Minnesota hospital for treatment, before the rest of the family could meet him. He stayed there for about six months, until his father, Merlyn — tired of seeing his son in pain — asked if all the blood draws, transfusions, and medical tests were really helping.

They weren't. There was no cure for Mark. So Merlyn took him home.

‌Merlyn holding his son, Mark. The family didn't take many photos of Mark because he was so sick. Image from the Haggberg family, used with permission. ‌

That was the first time Sandra got to meet Mark, and her new little brother didn’t look like what she expected.

Despite being six months old at that point, only his head had really grown and it was misshapen, and he had long, skinny arms and legs. The problems with his pituitary gland stunted his growth. “During his entire life, he never grew beyond the size of a three-month-old baby,” Sandra remembers.

Mark lived almost five years — far longer than anyone had expected. But as he grew older, he never learned to talk, he cried a lot from pain, and he rarely smiled.

“I remember that I could make him laugh though," says Sandra. "I would bound towards him, making barking noises — like a dog — and he would laugh and laugh,” she says. “I was kind of proud of myself that I could do that.

Because Mark was so sick, he didn’t leave home all that often. When he did, people’s treatment of him was … unkind, to put it mildly.

“People in the neighborhood were afraid of him," says Sandra. "He looked different, he cried — they didn’t know how to help. We were treated differently. We were ‘the family with the monster baby,’ and so, we just kept to ourselves. It was too personal and private to talk about or share with others.

‌One of the few photos of Mark.  Image from the Haggberg family, used with permission. ‌

Even family members kept their distance.

“When Mark was getting blood transfusions, we needed donors — Dad couldn’t donate blood as often as Mark needed them,” Sandra says. “Family members would promise to donate, but then fail to show up.”

At school, Sandra’s friends were curious about her brother, so she invited them over. “I had them come to our house. I went inside, picked Mark up, and brought him to the screen door but as soon as they saw him, they all screamed and ran away.” She wasn’t allowed to bring more friends over after that.

“Mom was a very private person. She didn’t want the noise, the mess, and the exposure,” Sandra says. “It was different back then. There was a lot of shame. So we just kept him to ourselves. It was like he was part of the house.”

“He was our secret,” she adds. And it remained that way until Mark’s death on March 6, 1962.

After that, the family didn’t talk much about Mark.

‌Sandra with her two little sisters.  Image from the Haggberg family, used with permission.

Sandra’s mom put his blanket and baby clothes in a cedar chest and kept it until she died of cancer 17 years ago. Merlyn talked about him a few times with Sandra over the years, but not much — and today, he doesn’t remember due to dementia. The three sisters never talked about him much either.

Growing up with Mark, and losing him, had an impact on Sandra for the rest of her life. But what stuck with her the most was not wanting Mark and others like him to feel invisible.

“Secrets can hurt and cause shame,” she says.

I don’t remember the first time that my mom told me about Mark, but I do know that I was in elementary school — so maybe I was 7 or 8. She didn’t keep Mark a secret from me or from my dad. Though we didn’t talk about him often, we were there to listen to her, without judgment, when she wanted to talk about him.

‌My mother holding me after my baptism in 1988. Image from the Scully family, used with permission. ‌

"It [also] taught me the importance of family and friends,” Sandra says.

She remembers how one aunt — her mom’s sister — wasn’t afraid of Mark and she would take care of him for one week every year so that the Haggbergs could take a camping trip as a family. “She wasn’t afraid and that meant a lot to our family,” Sandra says. “It meant that Mom got to sleep in. We got to spend more time with her. We got to laugh and make s’mores by the campfire — we got to be a ‘normal’ family for a little while, without worrying about Mark. It meant so, so much to us.”

“It taught me how, with help, you can survive anything," she adds.

‌My mother and father in December 2015. Photo from the Scully family, used with permission. ‌

Fortunately, we’ve come a long way in how we treat birth defects and disabilities since the 1950s.

Not only have medical advancements enabled us to better understand birth abnormalities and what causes them, but we have also, as a society, begun to change how we treat disability. People with birth defects, and their families, have been in the public eye now more than ever, challenging prejudices and shining a spotlight on the issues that affect them. And as a society, we're learning how to be more empathetic toward the families of a child born with birth defects and disabilities so that they don’t feel ostracized, shamed, or like they have to hide.

There's a long way to go, and we need to continue this positive trend so that every family gets the care, compassion, and support they need.

“I would ask people to be kind, to try to understand just a little bit — not to intrude, not to ask too many questions, and not to offer advice when none is asked for,” Sandra says. “But just to be kind.”

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

A young woman drinking bottled water outdoors before exercising.



The Story of Bottled Waterwww.youtube.com

Here are six facts from the video above by The Story of Stuff Project that I'll definitely remember next time I'm tempted to buy bottled water.

1. Bottled water is more expensive than tap water (and not just a little).

via The Story of Stuff Project/YouTube


A Business Insider column noted that two-thirds of the bottled water sold in the United States is in individual 16.9-ounce bottles, which comes out to roughly $7.50 per gallon. That's about 2,000 times higher than the cost of a gallon of tap water.

And in an article in 20 Something Finance, G.E. Miller investigated the cost of bottled versus tap water for himself. He found that he could fill 4,787 20-ounce bottles with tap water for only $2.10! So if he paid $1 for a bottled water, he'd be paying 2,279 times the cost of tap.

2. Bottled water could potentially be of lower quality than tap water.


via The Story of Stuff Project/YouTube

Fiji Water ran an ad campaign that was pretty disparaging about the city of Cleveland. Not a wise move. The city ordered a test of the snooty brand's water and found that Fiji Water contained levels of arsenic that weren't seen in the city's water supply.

How was that possible? Sarah Goodman of the New York Times explains:

" Bottled water manufacturers are not required to disclose as much information as municipal water utilities because of gaps in federal oversight authority. Bottom line: The Food and Drug Administration oversees bottled water, and U.S. EPA is in charge of tap water. FDA lacks the regulatory authority of EPA."

3. The amount of bottled water we buy every week in the U.S. alone could circle the globe five times!

via The Story of Stuff Project/YouTube

That sounded like it just had to be impossible, so we looked into it. Here's what our fact-checkers found:

"According to the video, ' People in the U.S. buy more than half a billion bottles of water every week.' National Geographic says for 2011, bottled water sales hit 9.1 billion gallons (roughly 34 billion liters).

A 'typical' water bottle is a half-liter, so that's about 68 billion bottles per year. Divided by 52 weeks would be a little over 1 billion bottles of water sold per week in the U.S. Because that's based on a smaller 'typical' bottle size, it seems reasonable that a half billion bottles a week could be accurate.

The Earth is about 131.5 million feet around, so yep, half a billion bottles of varying sizes strung end-to-end could circle the Earth five times."

4. Paying for bottled water makes us chumps.

via The Story of Stuff Project/YouTube

Beverage companies have turned bottled water into a multibillion-dollar industry through a concept known as manufactured demand. Bottled water advertisements used a combination of scare tactics (Tap water bad!) and seduction (From the purest mountain streams EVER!) to reel us in.

Well, we now know their claims about the superior quality of bottled water are mostly bogus. And research shows that anywhere from a quarter to 45% of all bottled water comes from the exact same place as your tap water (which, to reiterate, is so cheap it's almost free).

via The Story of Stuff Project/YouTube

5. Bottled water is FILTHY.

It takes oil — lots of it — to make plastic bottles. According to the video, the energy in the amount of oil it takes to make the plastic water bottles sold in the U.S. in one year could fuel a million cars. That's not even counting the oil it takes to ship bottled water around the world.

And once we've guzzled our bottled water, up to 80% of the empty bottles end up in landfills or noxious-gas-producing incinerators. The rest is either recycled or shipped to countries like India where poor people without environmental and labor protections have to deal with it.

On top of all that, the process of manufacturing plastic bottles is polluting public water supplies, which makes it easier for bottled water companies to sell us their expensive product.

6. There are 750 million people around the world who don't have access to clean water.

Photo by H2O for Life.

A child dies every minute from a waterborne disease. And for me, that's the core of what makes bottled water so evil.

The video wraps by comparing buying bottled water to smoking while pregnant. That may sound extreme, but after learning everything I just did about the bottled water industry, I can't disagree.

via The Story of Stuff Project/YouTube

If you're properly disgusted, here are a few ways you can help destroy the bottled water industry:

  1. Don't buy bottled water. Get a reusable water bottle. The savings will add up.
  2. Rally your schools, workplaces, and communities to ban bottled water.
  3. Demand that your city, state, and federal governments invest in better water infrastructure.


This article originally appeared on 5.7.15

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Canva

"It takes only a few hours and it's also kinda, sorta fun."

Summer is here. The season of backyard barbecues, long evenings by the bonfire, and a nagging worry that every parent can relate to — the dangers that come with a swimming pool.

The chances a child will die from drowning are relatively low, according to the CDC. But still — it's great to be prepared to step in and help with CPR, should it ever be necessary.


Actor Ryan Reynolds definitely thinks so.

Reynolds recently went to a CPR training class focused on toddlers and infants.

Reynolds and his wife, fellow A-lister Blake Lively (who also attended the class), are parents to two young daughters: 2-year-old James and 9-month old Ines.

The actor posted a photo from his CPR class to Instagram on June 27, noting how being certified once helped him save a family member's life.

"Years ago, I took a CPR course thru the Red Cross," Reynolds wrote. "And holy shit, I ended up saving my nephew's life because I knew what to do! True story!"

"Yesterday I took a refresher course — focusing on infant and toddler CPR," the actor continued. "It takes only a few hours and it's also kinda, sorta fun."

Lively also encouraged her followers to get trained if they haven't already.

"Google 'infant CPR class near me' and you'll see lots of listings," she wrote.

The Livelys are right: Learning CPR is quick, easy, and certainly worth the trouble.

Nothing can give you the same in-depth instruction as a course taught by a professional (you can easily find an American Red Cross CPR training in your area). But there are still plenty of helpful guides online with free resources you can access to help you get started.

As Lively noted, just knowing you have the know-how to help in a critical moment will let you enjoy those backyard poolside barbecues this summer, feeling a little more carefree.

"For those of you who haven't done it, you will love it," she wrote on Instagram. "It's so helpful by giving you knowledge, tools, and some peace of mind."

Here's an overview on CPR instructions so you can better understand what a training course entails:

This article originally appeared on 06.27.17


A couple shares why they decided to leave the United States.

Although it is difficult to tell if there is a trend of Americans moving out of the country, rough estimates show that around 8 million currently live in other countries—double the 4.1 million living abroad in 1999.

The most popular countries for Americans to move to are Mexico, Canada and the United Kingdom, in that order.

A big reason why some are leaving the U.S. is that an increasing number of employers allow people to work abroad. Others are choosing to leave because of cost of living increases and “golden visa” programs. Golden visas offer the chance to get a foreign residency permit by purchasing a house or making a significant investment or donation.


A couple is going viral on TikTok because they’ve decided to leave America and move to Spain. Luna Ashley Santel had wanted to move for a long time, but her husband wasn’t on board with the change until he had a lightbulb moment while visiting a Spanish café. The couple are parents of a 4-year-old daughter, and a big reason for their decision to leave is her safety.

@lunagoestospain

Here’s what shifted for him. I’m sure this’ll piss the right people off. No pun intended. #movingabroad #spaindigitalnomadvisa #movingabroadwithpets #movingtospainwithkids

While spending time in Spain, the couple went to a crowded café, which would have made them uncomfortable back home in St. Louis, Missouri.

“There's a ton of people walking around. Being from St. Louis, that's not a very comfortable place for me to be in,” the husband said. “And you turn to me and say, ‘Have you seen all these people?’” he recounted his wife saying.

“And you're like, ‘None of them have guns,’” he continued.

At this moment, he realized that living in America caused him to be on alert whenever he was out in public. A feeling he never got in Spain. “And I realized this weight that I had been carrying around my whole life wasn't necessary. Like what we think is normal is not normal,” he said.

When it comes to firearm policy, Spain and Missouri couldn’t be more different. In Spain, owning a handgun for self-defense is allowed when you are in verifiable danger. In Missouri, there is no permit requirement to carry a firearm, whether it’s concealed or carried openly.

In Spain, the gun death rate per 100,000 people in 2019 was 0.64. Whereas, in Missouri, the chance of being killed by a gun is more than 36 times greater, with 23.2 people per every 100,000 dying by gun in 2021.

The video resonated with many Americans who feel uncomfortable living in a country that has become accustomed to mass shootings.

"There’s so much mental energy we dedicate to simply existing in the U.S.," Mintmage wrote.

"As a father of two young boys, your husband’s explanation has me shook because I cannot disagree," Astrolo-G added.

"That is literally my main motivator for leaving the country. I am terrified for my son," Doula Faye wrote.

Luna’s husband isn’t the only one in the family concerned about school safety in the U.S. Luna, a former teacher of 7 years, believes that sending her daughter to a school where they have “terrifying” intruder drills is unacceptable.

“It's nothing that I want my 5-year-old child to have to accept or learn as normal,” she says in another TikTok post.

@lunagoestospain

Replying to @CholeraMeBadd a huge reason we are getting out. #gettingoutoftheusa #movingabroad #alicedrill #alicedrills #iquitteaching #ididntsignupforthishit #movingtospainwithkids

This article originally appeared on 7.14.23

Health

Bus seat shaped like a man's lap was installed to make a point about sexual harassment.

Obviously, it wasn't the most comfortable — or preferred — seat on the train for riders.

Photo pulled from YouTube video

Mexico City installs attention grabbing, anatomically correct seat.

Anyone using the Mexico City Metro recently may have spotted an ... odd seat on the train, a seat quite unlike the rest.

Instead of a back, the seat's plastic was molded into a person's protruding torso. And instead of a flat bottom for sitting, the seat took on the form of that person's thighs and penis.


Obviously, it wasn't the most comfortable — or preferred — seat on the train for riders.

Above the seat was a sign declaring the seat "for men only."

Another sign on the floor, legible once a person was sitting in the chair, reads (translated from Spanish): “It’s annoying to sit here, but doesn’t compare to the sexual violence women suffer on their daily trips."

Watch a video of confused, amused, and offended passengers experiencing the seat below:

The campaign, #NoEsDeHombres, was launched by U.N. Women and authorities in Mexico City to educate men on the seriousness of sexual assault on public transit.

Mexico's capital has a bad reputation when it comes to women's safety, the BBC reported. A global 2014 study found Mexico City was the worst in the world in terms of verbal and physical harassment experienced on public transit.

But harassment is a problem on virtually every major city transit system — including in the U.S. Last year, a survey of Washington, D.C., transit riders found 1 in 5 users had experienced sexual harassment during their commutes, with 28% of that figure reporting having been inappropriately touched or assaulted. As you could have guessed, women were nearly three times as likely as men to experience harassment, the survey found.

Maybe a seat like this for men should be on every city train from here on out.


This article originally appeared on 03.31.17


@JBBarrignton/Twitter

She reacted with compassionate rebellion

As their name suggests, anti-homeless spikes are intended to keep homeless people away.

They'll usually crop up in areas where a homeless person might find some quiet away from the hustle and bustle, or a spot that's relatively well-sheltered from the elements.



In January 2017, spikes like these appeared outside the Pall Mall Court in Manchester, England. And many people were not happy about it.

“This is not the answer to rough sleeping," Pat Karney, Manchester council spokesman, told the Manchester Evening News of the spikes. "It’s demeaning in that way."

One of those unhappy people was a local woman named Jennie Platt. The Manchester mom — who called the spikes "a Scroogey thing to do" — wasn't about to let the heartless act fly.

As Mashable reported, Platt and her kids decided to give the spikes a more comfortable upgrade.

Platt — with help from her 10- and 11-year-old sons, along with a few of their rugby teammates — covered the spikes with cushions and pillows.

Well done Jennie platt and sedgley park boys
Posted by Colette Stevens on Sunday, January 29, 2017

"The building owners are treating human beings like pigeons," Platt told the BBC, noting she woke up "with a right bee in [her] bonnet" after learning the news and decided she needed to do something.

Link to Twitter where what Platt and her sons did can be seen below:

Platt also left sandwiches and chocolate bars for anyone who could use a snack, encouraging folks to "take a seat and have a bite to eat."

Posted by Colette Stevens on Sunday, January 29, 2017

“It’s a spot where people can keep warm and sheltered," explained Platt. "People don’t need to be that mean."

The spikes are right outside Pall Mall Medical, a healthcare facility that rents out a space in the court, which said it had nothing to do with their installment. GVA, the company that manages the building, declined to comment to the Manchester Evening News.

Update Feb. 7, 2017: The spikes have been removed by the building's owner after public outcry, the Manchester Evening News reported.

Unfortunately, the anti-homeless renovation in Manchester is indicative of a larger issue that doesn't stop at spikes.

Governments and businesses alike have sneakily built up anti-homeless infrastructure in urban spaces all around the world.

If you've been to Tokyo, you may have noticed "dangerously slippery" benches designed specifically to be uncomfortable, warding off anyone who wants to rest more than a few moments.

In places like Salt Lake City and Lincoln, Nebraska, you might come across benches with vertical slats between the seats, made to deter anyone from lying down.

A man saws at an armrest in Toulouse, France, in 2006 in protest of the mistreatment of homeless people.

THIS IMAGE IF YOU'D LIKE TO ADD TO THE STORY CAN BE FOUND ON THE GETTY IMAGES!!!!!!!!!!

This type of urban planning pushes the problem of chronic homelessness aside without helping to provide a solution.

Shooing away homeless people by building slippery benches, installing excessive armrests, and adding spikes to sidewalks doesn't mean homeless people disappear. It means the most vulnerable among us — many who struggle with mental illness or are living on the street because they can't stay at a shelter — are left unwelcome in larger and larger spaces within our communities. This type of heartless infrastructure only exacerbates the problem.

Instead of hoping homeless people disappear, we should focus our attention on ideas that help them in the long run.

Beyond supporting your local homeless shelter by volunteering and donating, you can rally your representatives to join the fight. For example, Housing First — a strategy that provides people with a home quickly and unconditionally, then gives them the resources they need to stand on their own (like help with addiction or career services) — is a model that's been proven to work in several cities and states. Make sure the leaders in your area know you care about this issue and want funding for local initiatives, like Housing First, that make a big difference.

Platt realizes her efforts may be short-lived. But as more people notice her deed, she hopes it will change hearts and minds.

"I know [the cushions] won't last and I know they'll get wet," she said. "But the people who manage that building need to know how to treat people."

This article originally appeared on 02.06.17