How a system of ropes and pulleys may change the lives of babies with Down syndrome.

When Grace Morgan smiles, everyone smiles.

Image via Upworthy/YouTube.


How could you not? She's almost 1, and her enthusiasm, curiosity, and zest for life are contagious.

And thanks to an innovative research project, Grace will get to interact with and explore her world like never before.

Grace was born with Down syndrome in April 2015.

Her parents, Liz and Matt Morgan, learned about her diagnosis after she was born. Their initial surprise quickly turned to worry and concerns about Grace's future. Physicians at the Down syndrome clinic at their local children's hospital told the Morgans they could expect Grace to do everything a typical child would, it would just take her twice as long.

But that response didn't fly with the Morgans.

"Why would we just accept the fact that they say 'Everything takes twice as long?'" Liz told Upworthy.

Image via Upworthy/YouTube.

Then the Morgans heard about a research project that could improve Grace's mobility — a huge deal for kids like her.

The man behind the study, Dr. Cole Galloway , is a physical therapy professor at the University of Delaware and founder of GoBabyGo. The program combines engineering, tech, and rehabilitation tools to provide real-world mobility and confidence to kids with disabilities. Galloway was looking for a baby younger than 9 months with Down syndrome and a family with enough time to supervise daily use of an innovative device. The Morgans were selected from a pool of applicants.

Galloway and his team recently set up a mobility harness system in the Morgan's home.

The 10-foot-by-10-foot rig is common in children's hospitals and clinics, but this is one of the first times a system like this is being used in a home environment.

Image via Upworthy/YouTube.

The harness, which is attached to a canopy and pulley system, allows Grace to remain upright, jump, bounce, and interact with her world in a way similar to that of her peers.

Since she's free to roam on the system, she can sway and twirl.

All GIFs via Upworthy/YouTube.

She can play with her parents and big brother.

And even charm the family dog.

For the Morgans and other families, mobility devices like this are life-changing.

The ability to move independently is more than just getting from one place to another. Children learn about their environment and develop cognitively and socially through locomotion. And for older children, the ability to get around and interact with peers is how friendships are formed.

The difference for Grace is "huge," Liz told Upworthy. Without the harness, Grace's world is limited to the toys or people directly in front of her.

But with the device, there's no stopping her.

"What a harness can do is just give a chance for Gracie to never experience anything less than her own independence," Galloway told Upworthy. "Her own self-guided life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Adding, "But it's the pursuit of happiness."

Looks like Grace and her family have plenty to smile about.

See Grace take on the world in this heartwarming Upworthy Original.


Courtesy of Verizon
True

If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

Keep Reading Show less