Her students were always tired and unfocused. Then standing desks changed everything.
True
BOKS

Fourth-grade teacher Amanda Grey used to have the hardest time getting her 27 students to focus in class.

They'd slump down in their chairs, tilt backward, and get distracted by any number of things.

While you might be thinking this sounds like your average fourth-grader, there was one common thread in their behavior that might've been the catalyst: sitting.


Image from iStock.

A student in the United States sits an average of 4.5 hours a day while in school. Add that to all the sitting they do at home, and they're spending approximately 85% of their day being sedentary.

Several studies have noted that prolonged sitting can be bad for your long-term health, even with regular exercise. But perhaps the most immediately harmful aspect of sitting for kids is how it can negatively affect attention spans.  

Thankfully, about three years ago, Crossfit studio owners Juliet and Kelly Starrett brought standing desks to Grey's school.

Student at a standing desk at Vallecito Elementary. Photo by Amanda Grey, used with permission.

Vallecito Elementary was also where the Starretts' daughter Georgia went to school, and the couple would often volunteer to run sack races during school field days. They noticed that while the students appeared healthy, they lacked range of motion in their hip extension when they jumped.

Thinking this was likely due to too much sitting, they approached the school about trying standing desks in a classroom. The school administration was receptive and agreed to replace their traditional desks with standing desks in one fourth-grade classroom in August 2014.

After a brief period of adjustment, the students were on board with the change to standing in class.

Teachers and parents alike were noticing they have more focused energy, which helped them perform better in school.

Vallecito student doing work at a standing desk. Photo by Amanda Grey, used with permission.

"I have found that my students' overall academic performance has improved simply because they are more attentive during lessons when they're standing," explains Grey. "I deal with far fewer behavior issues while I teach, less student distraction and overall more focus."

The rest of the teachers at Vallecito saw similar results and were thrilled when the Starretts decided to find a way to fund standing desks for the entire school. By that point, they had founded their nonprofit, Stand Up Kids, which is all about educating schools on the importance of fitness and mobility.

Thanks to a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign, the Starretts raised $110,000 — enough to buy standing desks for all 450 Vallecito students.

The best part for Grey is seeing how standing desks have made school life so much better for her students, especially those with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, ADHD.

Photo by Amanda Grey, used with permission.

During Grey's second year with standing desks, she had a new student who had a history of "overactive behavior" that made it difficult for her to get her work done. At the end of the student's first day, Grey asked her what the best part of her day was.

"She told me that she loved not getting in trouble for needing to stand up throughout the day and being told to stay in her seat," recalls Grey. "It was so clear to me that this student needed to be active and have a variety of seating options during her school day to be successful. I was very glad to welcome her into a school community that offers that type of learning environment."

Since the Starretts started their initiative, over 27,000 kids nationwide have access to a standing desk. Grey hopes that's just the beginning.

While populating an entire classroom with standing desks is expensive, Grey encourages teachers to be creative in getting kids on their feet.

"Even if you're not able to get one desk per student, having five will make a difference," says Grey. "I would also explore ways to make sitting desks into standing desks as a way to experiment with the positive impact on students."

Schools and teachers can get a leg up on fundraising for standing desks or other active lifestyle plans for students, by visiting Stand Up Kids' fundraising page.

Remember, it's not just about standing — it's about encouraging a more active lifestyle in kids so it becomes an inherent part of their adult lives. Any way teachers can promote moving in the classroom is a step in the right direction.

Pexels
True
Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.