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

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.

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Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign. We don't do PSAs. We also need to update so to explain truth – the nonprofit behind the truth youth smoking prevention campaign – you could also say this in a funny way – best known for sharing the facts about smoking and vaping or pull from some old campaigns. Just layer in a description of truth and who the campaign is., is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

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Handmade cosmetics company Lush is putting its money where its mouth is and taking a bold step for climate change action.

On September 20 in the U.S. and September 27 in Canada, Lush will shut the doors of its 250 shops, e-commerce sites, manufacturing facilities, and headquarters for a day, in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike taking place around the world. Lush is encouraging its 5000+ employees "to join this critical movement and take a stand until global leaders are forced to face the climate crisis and enact change."

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Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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The fine folks at Forbes are currently falling all over themselves trying to clean up the mess they created by publishing their 2019 list of 100 Most Innovative Leaders.

The problem: The list included 99 men and one woman. For those not so good with the math, that means according to Forbes, only 1% of the country's most innovative leaders are female.

Have you ever watched a movie that's so abysmally bad that you wonder how it ever even got made? Where you think, "Hundreds and hundreds of people had to have been directly involved in the production of this film. Did any of them ever think to say, 'Hey, maybe we should just scrap this idea altogether?"

That's how it feels to see a list like this. So how did Forbes come up with these results?

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