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Heroic sanitation workers save abducted, 10-year-old girl while on their trash route

"I was just doing my job man. I was just doing my job and actually came across somebody who needed help."

Heroic sanitation workers save abducted, 10-year-old girl while on their trash route
via Dion Merrick / Facebook

At 1:30 am on a Monday morning in February, an AMBER Alert went out in southern Louisiana about a missing 10-year-old girl from New Iberia. It was believed she had been kidnapped and driven away in a 2012 silver Nissan Altima.

A few hours later at 7 am, Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, sanitation workers for Pelican Waste, were on their daily route when they noticed a vehicle that fit the description in the alert.


The sanitation workers thought it was suspicious that a silver sedan was parked alone in a field in St. Martin Parish.

"Something told me, like just look, I said what is that car doing in that field like that? What the car doing? Guess what, that's the dude with the little girl," Merrick said in a Facebook Live video. "That's God."

The video has been seen over 1.5 million times since it was posted on Monday morning.

To prevent the possible kidnapper from escaping, they parked the large sanitation truck the wrong way on the highway to "Make sure they couldn't get out," Merrick said. Then, they called 911.

When police arrived they arrested Michael R. Sereal, the man whose car was mentioned in the AMBER Alert. The police were also able to safely recover the girl who appeared unharmed. She was later taken to the hospital to be evaluated by medical personnel.

The Iberia Parish Sheriff's Department's online sex offender registry has a Michael Roy Sereal but authorities wouldn't confirm it's the same man.

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The young girls' family got in touch with the two men who saved her and have shown amazing gratitude. "I'm just so happy and blessed that I have actually seen the car and we actually responded like we were supposed to respond," Merrick told KHOU.

Merrick hopes that his actions will inspire others to be proactive as well. "Don't be scared if you see something. If you know something is wrong, report it," Merrick said. "Call authorities because it could save someone's life."

via Office of the Louisiana Attorney general

The two men were applauded by the St. John Parish's Sheriff, who offered to buy them lunch.

"I was just doing my job man. I was just doing my job and actually came across somebody who needed help," Merrick said. "Got me tearing up."

The AMBER Alert system was created in 1996 after nine-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted and murdered while riding her bike in Texas. Since its inception, nearly seven in 10 AMBER alert cases have resulted in children being successfully reunited with their parents.

In 17% of the cases, the child's recovery is a direct result of the alert.

As of December 2020, 1,029 children rescued specifically because of the system.


This article originally appeared on 02.09.21

All images provided by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

Collins after being selected by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

True

A changemaker is anyone who takes creative action to solve an ongoing problem—be it in one’s own community or throughout the world.

And when it comes to creating positive change, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective can hold just as much power as years of experience. That’s why, every year, Prudential Emerging Visionaries celebrates young people for their innovative solutions to financial and societal challenges in their communities.

This national program awards 25 young leaders (ages 14-18) up to $15,000 to devote to their passion projects. Additionally, winners receive a trip to Prudential’s headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, where they receive coaching, skills development, and networking opportunities with mentors to help take their innovative solutions to the next level.

For 18-year-old Sydnie Collins, one of the 2023 winners, this meant being able to take her podcast, “Perfect Timing,” to the next level.

Since 2020, the Maryland-based teen has provided a safe platform that promotes youth positivity by giving young people the space to celebrate their achievements and combat mental health stigmas. The idea came during the height of Covid-19, when Collins recalled social media “becoming a dark space flooded with news,” which greatly affected her own anxiety and depression.

Knowing that she couldn’t be the only one feeling this way, “Perfect Timing” seemed like a valuable way to give back to her community. Over the course of 109 episodes, Collins has interviewed a wide range of guests—from other young influencers to celebrities, from innovators to nonprofit leaders—all to remind Gen Z that “their dreams are tangible.”

That mission statement has since evolved beyond creating inspiring content and has expanded to hosting events and speaking publicly at summits and workshops. One of Collins’ favorite moments so far has been raising $7,000 to take 200 underserved girls to see “The Little Mermaid” on its opening weekend, to “let them know they are enough” and that there’s an “older sister” in their corner.

Of course, as with most new projects, funding for “Perfect Timing” has come entirely out of Collins’ pocket. Thankfully, the funding she earned from being selected as a Prudential Emerging Visionary is going toward upgraded recording equipment, the support of expert producers, and skill-building classes to help her become a better host and public speaker. She’ll even be able to lease an office space that allows for a live audience.

Plus, after meeting with the 24 other Prudential Emerging Visionaries and her Prudential employee coach, who is helping her develop specific action steps to connect with her target audience, Collins has more confidence in a “grander path” for her work.

“I learned that my network could extend to multiple spaces beyond my realm of podcasting and journalism when industry leaders are willing to share their expertise, time, and financial support,” she told Upworthy. “It only takes one person to change, and two people to expand that change.”

Prudential Emerging Visionaries is currently seeking applicants for 2024. Winners may receive up to $15,000 in awards and an all-expenses-paid trip to Prudential’s headquarters with a parent or guardian, as well as ongoing coaching and skills development to grow their projects.

If you or someone you know between the ages of 14 -18 not only displays a bold vision for the future but is taking action to bring that vision to life, click here to learn more. Applications are due by Nov. 2, 2023.
Education

Mother of 7 stunned to learn the ‘Alphabet Song’ has been changed to get with the times

There's a good reason for the update. But it's jarring, to say the least.

Jessica Skube can't believe that they changed the 'Alphabet Song.'

The oldest published version of the melody to the “Alphabet Song” was in 1761. However, because it’s the same melody as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” it's hard to trace it to its original composer.

The “Alphabet Song” is so deeply entrenched in American culture that it almost seems sacrilegious to change a piece of music that’s one of the first most of us ever learned. But after all these years, some educators are altering the classic melody so that there is a variation when the letters L-M-N-O-P are sung.

This change shocked popular TikTokker Jessica Skube, who documents life raising 7 children with her 2.6 million followers. Nearly 10 million people have watched her video revealing the significant change, and it’s received over 56,000 comments since first being published in late 2020.

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@nostalgicallyrachel/TikTok, @mrvaughntrainor/TikTok

It was a simpler, more life-threatening time.

Parenting has changed. A lot. So many things our parents did that were considered normal in our childhood—that is, for all us millennials and Gen Xers—would simply never fly today.

This is thanks in large part to the digital age, and the countless ways to access information. Radio, magazines, television, books, online blogs, Facebook parent groups, informational podcasts, public studies…thousands of voices helping shape family dynamics and warn of potential dangers.

If there’s ever any doubt into how far we’ve come, let technology once again remind you. A trip down memory lane via TikTok might be, as the kids say, a bit cringe, but boy can it help instill a little gratitude.
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Pop Culture

A-ha's stripped-down, slowed-down performance of 'Take On Me' is a must-see

The slower tempo and simple instrumentation creates a sadder, more haunting version of the 80s monster hit.

A-ha performing live for MTV Unplugged Summer Solstice

According to NPR—and the ABBA blaring from my young adult daughter's headphones—we're in the midst of an 80s music revival. As a Gen Xer who came of age in the 80s, I think most of that decade should stay locked in a time capsule, but there are a few songs that have managed to remain timeless despite the synthesizers and bad hair.

A-ha's "Take On Me" is one of them. Despite its consummately-80s sound, the song with the famous sketch animated video is still enjoyable (if not a little earwormy—good luck once it gets stuck in your head).

But a lesser-known 2017 arrangement of the song is actually, miraculusly, even better. A-ha performed "Take On Me" for an MTV Unplugged Summer Solstice album, and it's significantly different than the original. The Norwegian band filmed the performance live on the island of Giske, dropping the electric piano as well as the tempo for a stripped-down version that has become a fan favorite. As of this writing, the video has 97 million views on YouTube.

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Family

The Gen X 'stay at home mom' crisis is real, but what's the solution?

Some moms in their 40s feel like they were lied to about what their "resume gap" would mean.

40-something moms who stayed home to be with their kids are finding themselves in uncharted waters.

A few generations ago, parents had pretty clearly defined roles, with the dad generally being the breadwinner and the mom being the homemaker/stay-at-home mother. Then women's rights movement came along, empowering women in the workplace, ushering in the era of two working parents and producing an entire generation of "latchkey kids."

Now those Gen X latchkey kids are parenting Gen Z, with the pendulum of working motherhood having swung somewhat to the middle. We were raised to believe we could be anything we dreamed of being and that we didn't have to choose between being a mom and having a career. Gen X also became mothers during the heyday of parenting self-help books that impressed upon us the importance of attachment and hands-on childrearing, as well as the era of super-scheduled kids, whose activities alone require a full-time manager.

As a result, those of us in our 40s have raised our kids straddling two worlds—the one where women can have all of the career success we desire and the one where we can choose to be stay-at-home moms who do all the things. At first, we were told we could have it all, but when the impossibility of that became clear, we were told, "Well, you can have it all, just not at the same time."

But as many moms are finding as their kids start leaving the nest, even that isn't the full truth.

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Health

4 simple hacks to help you meet your healthy eating goals

Trying to eat healthier? Try these 4 totally doable tricks.

Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash

Most of us want to eat healthier but need some help to make it happen.

True

When it comes to choosing what to eat, we live in a uniquely challenging era. Never before have humans known more about nutrition and how to eat for optimal health, and yet we’ve never been more surrounded by distractions and temptations that derail us from making healthy choices.

Some people might be able to decide “I’m going to eat healthier!” and do so without any problem, but those folks are unicorns. Most of us know what we should do, but need a little help making it happen—like some simple hacks, tips and tricks for avoiding pitfalls on the road to healthier eating.

While recognizing that what works for one person may not work for another, here are some helpful habits and approaches that might help you move closer to your healthy eating goals.

man pulling chip out of a chip bagOur mouths loves chips. Our bodies not so much.Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

Goal: Snack on less junk food

Tip: Focus your willpower on the grocery store, not your home

Willpower is a limited commodity for most of us, and it is no match for a bag of potato chips sitting on top of the fridge. It’s just a fact. Channeling your willpower at the grocery store can save you from having to fight that battle at home. If you don’t bring chips into your house in the first place, you’ll find it a lot easier to reach for something healthier.

The key to successful shopping trips is to always go to the store with a specific list and a full stomach—you’ll feel much less tempted to buy the junky snack foods if you’re already satiated. Also, finding healthier alternatives that will still satisfy your cravings for salty or crunchy, or fatty foods helps. Sugar snap peas have a surprisingly satisfying crunch, apples and nut butter hit that sweet-and-salty craving, etc.

slice of cakeYou can eat well without giving up sweets completely.Photo by Caitlyn de Wild on Unsplash

Goal: Eat less sugar

Tip: Instead of “deprive,” think “delay” or “decrease and delight”

Sugar is a tricky one. Some people find it easier to cut out added sugars altogether, but that can create an all-or-nothing mindset that all too often results in “all.” Eating more whole foods and less processed foods can help us cut out a lot of ancillary sugar, but we still live in a world with birthday cakes and dessert courses.

One approach to dessert temptation is to delay instead of deprive. Tell yourself you can have any sweet you want…tomorrow. This mental trick flips the “I’ll just indulge today and start eating healthier tomorrow” idea on its head. It’s a lot easier to resist something you know you can have tomorrow than to say no to something you think you’ll never get to have again.

Another approach when you really want to enjoy a dessert at that moment is to decrease the amount and really truly savor it. Eat each bite slowly, delighting in the full taste and satisfaction of it. As soon as that delight starts to diminish, even a little, stop eating. You’ve gotten what you wanted out of it. You don’t have to finish it. (After all, you can always have more tomorrow!)

colorful fresh food on a plateA naturally colorful meal is a healthy meal.Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash

Goal: Eat healthier meals

Tip: Focus on fresh foods and plan meals ahead of time

Meal planning is easier than ever before. The internet is filled with countless tools—everything from recipes to shopping lists to meal planning apps—and it’s as awesome as it is overwhelming.

Planning ahead takes the guesswork and decision fatigue out of cooking, preventing the inevitable “Let’s just order a pizza.” You can have a repeating 3-week or 4-week menu of your favorite meals so you never have to think about what you’re going to eat, or you can meal plan once a week to try new recipes and keep things fresh.

It might help to designate one day a week to “shop and chop”—getting and prepping the ingredients for the week’s meals so they’re ready to go in your fridge or freezer.

woman holding blueberries in her handsOrganic foods are better for the Earth and for us.Photo by andrew welch on Unsplash

Goal: Eat more organic/humanely raised food

Tip: Utilize the “dirty dozen” and “clean 15” lists to prioritize

Many people choose organic because they want to avoid pesticides and other potentially harmful chemicals. Organic food is also better for the planet, and according to the Mayo Clinic, studies have shown that organic produce is higher in certain nutrients.

Most people don’t buy everything organic, but there are some foods that should take priority over others. Each year, researchers from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyze thousands of samples of dozens of fruits and vegetables. From this data, they create a list of the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” fruits and vegetables, indicating what produce has the most and least pesticide residue. These lists give people a good place to start focusing their transition to more organic foods.

To make organic eating even simpler, you can shop O Organics® at your local Albertsons or Safeway stores. The O Organics brand offers a wide range of affordable USDA-certified organic products in every aisle. If you’re focusing on fresh foods, O Organics produce is always grown without synthetic pesticides, is farmed to conserve biodiversity, and is always non-GMO. All animal-based O Organics products are certified humane as well. Even switching part of your grocery list to organic can make a positive impact on the planet and the people you feed.

Healthy eating habits don’t have to be all or nothing, and they don’t have to be complicated. A few simple mindset changes at home and habit changes at the grocery store can make a big difference.

Family

30 best collagen supplements for pregnancy

If you’re looking for the perfect Mother's Day gifts for the incredible moms in your life, we've got you covered.

Editor's Note: Upworthy earns a percentage of revenue from items purchased on this list.


In the journey of pregnancy, maintaining optimal health is of paramount importance, and collagen supplements have emerged as potential allies in promoting overall well-being for both the expectant mother and the developing fetus. With maternal bodily changes in mind, we explore a curated selection of the 30 best collagen supplements tailored to support the unique requirements of pregnancy. Recent research underscores the significance of collagen in enhancing skin elasticity, a crucial consideration as 95% of women experience some degree of skin stretching during pregnancy, while the protein's role in fortifying joints gains prominence given that up to 75% of pregnant women report musculoskeletal discomfort.

30 best collagen supplements for pregnancy

  1. Elm & Rye Collagen Supplements
  2. Mindbodygreen Beauty & Gut Collagen+ Powder
  3. PROTIVA Nurture Pregnancy Collagen Powder for Women
  4. Needed. Expertly-Formulated & Tested Prenatal Hydrolyzed Collagen Protein Powder
  5. Biomeology Prenatal Collagen Peptides
  6. Beli Prenatal Collagen
  7. Spoiled Child, Liquid Collagen, Extra Strength
  8. Garden of Life Grass Fed Collagen Peptides
  9. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Powder
  10. Health Revolution Multi Collagen Peptides Powder
  11. BioOptimal Collagen Powder
  12. DR EMIL NUTRITION Multi Collagen Pills
  13. FORTE NATURALS Collagen Peptide Pills
  14. Vital Vitamins Multi Collagen Complex
  15. Codeage Multi Collagen + Gut Blend Supplement
  16. OPTIWIZE Collagen Plus
  17. Like Mine Marine Collagen
  18. Nature Made Collagen Gummies with Vitamin C, Zinc and Biotin
  19. Physician's CHOICE Collagen Peptides Powder w/ Digestive Enzymes
  20. Rae Wellness Vegan Collagen Boost Powder
  21. ELMNT Super Collagen Burn
  22. NeoCell Collagen, Vitamin C & Biotin Supplement, Beauty Builder
  23. Caribou Nutrition Multi Collagen Pills
  24. Youtheory Collagen with Vitamin C
  25. Ancestral Supplements Grass Fed Beef Living Collagen Nutritional Powder
  26. Live Conscious Collagen Peptides Powder
  27. NeoCell Super Collagen Powder
  28. ForestLeaf - Collagen Pills with Hyaluronic Acid & Vitamin C
  29. MaryRuth's Collagen Boosting Gummy for Hair Skin & Nails
  30. Sanar Naturals Collagen Pills with Vitamin C, E
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