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.
She didn’t want the girl to “ruin” her photos of the trip.
A 42-year-old mother wondered whether she did the right thing by disciplining her 18-year-old daughter, Abby, who disinvited a friend from vacation because of her weight. The mother asked people on Reddit for their opinion.
For some background, Abby had struggled with her weight for many years, so she went to her mother for help. The two set up a program where Abby was given a reward for every milestone she achieved.
“Four months ago, she asked that I don't get her any more rewards and add it up to her birthday gift, and for her gift she wants a vacation I will pay for, for her and her friends instead of the huge party I had promised for her 18th. I said OK,” the mother wrote.
So, instead of a series of small gifts, Abbey wanted one large one, a vacation with two of her friends. The vacation would also celebrate Abby’s 18th birthday. The mother agreed and booked the trip for the 3 girls.
“Fast forward to last weekend, we started preparing for her vacation,” the mother wrote. “I called the other two girls' parents to confirm the girls would be and learned Abby's best friend Betty isn't going. Betty loves traveling and was looking forward to the vacation, so I asked why. Apparently, Abby uninvited her because ‘she is too chubby to look good in pictures.’”
When the mother approached Abby about the situation, she doubled down on her comments to Betty. “I calmly talked to Abby and reminded her how Betty would feel being left out for such a reason, and she went off with, 'I didn't work so hard for this vacation so my pictures will be ruined,'" the mother wrote.
Abby then asked Betty to contact her mom and say that she decided not to go on the trip because she wasn’t feeling well. Betty refused to lie, and Abby sent her a “ton of hateful texts and body-shaming insults.” Betty shared screenshots of the texts to the mother, and she promptly canceled the entire vacation.
Now, Abby’s father, who shares 50-50 custody with the mother, is livid, and Abby won’t speak to the mother. The mom asked the Reddit AITA forum to see if she was in the wrong, and the commenters overwhelmingly said she did the right thing. "Some of my friends agree on my approach, while others think I should have put my daughter first,” the mother said.
The most popular commenter was short and to the point.
"Teaching your daughter to not be a horrible human being IS putting her first," Due_Laugh_3851 wrote. "I commend your strength and parenting skills. This was the right thing to do and would've been hard to do. Well done, you deserve to go on the holiday yourself," Loud_Wallaby737 added.
"... uninviting someone because you only want skinny people in your pictures is a disgusting attitude frankly. Sorry, I just don't find a nicer word for it. I am totally with you that this needs to have consequences, and while I'm very much against breaking promises, I do believe this is an exception. Like you said, your daughter knows what it feels like. She (but anyone really) should be supportive of friends wanting to lose weight if that is the case and if it isn't they she should just mind her own
business body," SensitiveSires wrote.
One of the few people who thought she was in the wrong believed that the mother set her daughter up for failure.
"[You're wrong] for giving your daughter who is a child rewards for weight loss. Her behavior of value based on weight shows she likely has developed disordered eating patterns and attitudes and this will cause her a lifetime of pain," tamtheprogram wrote.
The silver lining to the story is that many people who commented said that even though her daughter did something very hurtful, she’s still a teenager and there’s a chance she’ll realize the error of her ways.
"The daughter is just a teenager, she still has a lot of time to learn and grow up. Writing off her entire future as a mean girl when it’s very rare to be the same exact person you were at 18 as you grow up is a lot," Stephapeaz wrote.
Who was this stranger, and what did they know?
Lake Fontana, A Brooklyn-based TikTokker, received a text message from a stranger in January of 2022, and it completely upended what she knew about her family. But it also taught her an important lesson about the relationships that matter in life.
“About a year ago now, on January 9, I got a text message telling me to get a DNA test from Ancestry, and I think it’s fake,” she shared on TikTok. “I FaceTime my friend, and I’m like, ‘Listen to this.’ And she’s like, ‘I swear my gut is telling me this is real. You need to respond.’”
The mystery person who reached out to Lane also made a burner Facebook account and reached out to her on that platform as well. “You have other family you might not be aware of,’” the mystery person texted her.
To learn the truth, Lane reached out to her mother. She admitted that the man who raised her wasn’t her father. It was a man that she knew briefly in college when she was 35. “I almost fell off my f**king chair,” Lane explained. “She had an affair with a guy ten years younger than her when she was in college. ‘It was a one-time thing, but he even saw her on campus and said, ‘Is that mine?’ and she denied it.”
Then Lane received the results from Ancestry and learned the truth: her father was a British man who lives in California. The “mystery person” who reached out to her was his nephew.
Lane’s biological father had attempted to get in touch with Lane over the years but was threatened by her mother. “So what did he do? He followed me on social media my entire life. He watched me date my boyfriend, get married, have babies, everything. All from the outside. Not able to know me,” she said.
The biological father longed to hear her voice, so he called the salon where she works to ask the hours and then hung up. He wanted to fly out and get his haircut by her, but his wife was against it because, given their resemblance, she might figure things out pretty quickly.
Lane and her biological father finally met and spent 5 days together, but things didn’t go as she hoped.
Replying to @rykoda #foryoupage #fyp #ancestrydnatestresults #dnaresults #storytime #viral
“Coming from a broken family, there's like this hole inside of me. I guess like was hoping that he was gonna fix me and I really tried to go into it with like an open mind and low expectations,” she said in a TikTok video. “I felt like he was not interested in what I had to say. I felt like I was stupid. I felt like he didn't like me,” she continued. “I mean, I'm a very warm, talkative, funny, goofy person and he is not like that. So it could just be who he is. He could even be just trying to respect me as an adult. But, um, our interactions left me feeling very confused and very invalidated.”
The confusion with meeting her biological father made her relationship with the man who raised her seem even more important.
“Between him and I not a lot changes, like, that's still my dad,” she said. “I'm still his daughter. My kids are still his grandkids. You know, like, he Facetimes my son every day. My son's named after him. Like, I have his signature on the back of my neck. That's my dad.”
Lane is taking her relationship with the man she calls her “Biodad” in stride. But after all the changes in her life, she’s happy to know the truth. “I'm just taking it at my own pace,” she said. “I just feel like I have 2 dads now, which is a good thing. The more, the merrier.”
Replying to @ashleey.victoria
Dillon Helbig's 81-page graphic novel— written by "Dillon His Self"—captured the hearts of his local librarians and their patrons.
Writing a book is no easy task, even for adult professional writers. Many would-be authors dream of a day when their work can be found on library shelves, unsure if it will ever come.
But for 8-year-old Dillon Helbig, that day has already arrived—in truly unconventional fashion—thanks to his own determination to make it happen.
Dillon wrote his 81-page graphic novel, "The Adventures of Dillon Helbig's Crismis" (written by "Dillon His Self") in a hardcover journal with colored pencils over the course of a few days. He even put a label on the back of the book that reads "Made in Idho" [sic] and put an illustrated spine label on it as well. Then, without telling anyone, he brought it to his local library in Boise, Idaho, and slipped it in among the books in the children's section.
The library Facebook page shared that it had officially added the book to the collection at the branch, writing, "Imagine our surprise yesterday when Dillon's mom called to tell us that her son had authored an entire book, shelved it at the Lake Hazel Branch, then announced to his family later that he had written a book and it could be checked out at the library."
The library also announced that Dillon's book had won the first-ever Whoodini Award for Best Young Novelist—an award created in his honor.
Dillon told local news station KTVB that the book features him, his mom, Santa, a bomb, a portal and a giant carnivorous turkey. Because of course.
"I've been wanting to put a book in the library since I was five," Dillon told the station. Nearly half his life, in other words.
Dillon said there were a lot of librarians he had to sneak past with his book to surreptitiously put it on the shelf, but he did it.
"I'll always be sneaky, like how I get chocolate," he explained. Classic.
The adults on every front handled this kid's creativity and determination the best possible way. His mom called the library to let them know the book was there so it wouldn't get lost or taken. And rather than just returning the book, the librarians actually put it into circulation.
"His parents were worried we would find his book and we would get rid of it," Lake Hazel Branch Library manager Alex Hartman told KTVB. "Which was an unfounded fear because if there's ever a place a book would be safe, it would be here."
The librarians loved Dillon's book.
“It deserves a spot on our library shelves,” said Hartman. “It’s a good story.”
At the time of this local news report, the book had a handful of people in line to check it out. But The New York Times reports that as of the end of January, the waiting list has grown to a whopping 56 people. If each person kept the book for the maximum four-week checkout period it would take four years to get to the people at the bottom of the list.
The experience has made Dillon decide to become an author, his mom said, and he even has some career goals laid out.
“I’m going to stop writing when I’m 40,” Dillon said. After that, he will switch to game creation. In the meantime, he has a sequel to his first novel in the works.
“My next book is going to be called ‘The Jacket-Eating Closet,’" he said, "based on actual events.”
Amazing. Kudos to Dillon for following his dream and making it happen, kudos to his mom for encouraging him and kudos to the librarians who saw an opportunity to support a child's creativity and ran with it.
This article originally appeared on 09.13.22
The woman paid $25 for a gown designed by the same person that designed gowns for Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez.
Weddings are expensive so, many brides look for ways to cut corners where they can. Designer wedding dresses can cost more than a nice used car so any sort of sale or thrift store find can significantly boost your budget for other things. Emmali Osterhoudt came across a deal so good on a wedding gown that she bought it immediately, even though she doesn't have a fiancé.
It was too good of a deal to pass up at $25 when the original tag (still on the dress) read $6,200. The fact that the dress fit like a glove right off of the Goodwill rack makes not having someone to stand at the end of the aisle a mere technicality. Osterhoudt didn't want to keep her find a secret, she uploaded a video of her future wedding dress to TikTok where it went viral.
The unbetrothed woman's post generated more than 3.5 million views and caught the eye of the dress's designer, Galia Lahav.
If you're into celebrity news, including all the details of their big day, then you've likely come across Lahav's name. She's designed dresses for Katy Perry, Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera and Paris Hilton, according to Good Morning America. The dress is truly an incredible find on a day that Osterhoudt likely would've considered a bust, since she revealed in a follow up video that she used to answer people's questions, she wasn't having luck at that particular Goodwill.
"This Goodwill is in Birmingham, Alabama, in the Green Springs area and it had nothing. It had nothing but the dress," Osterhoudt laughs. "I had gone in just to look at some picture frames for a gallery wall and I did. I had already checked out."
Answer some of the Galia Lahav dress questions with me!!! 🏼🏼 #goodwill #goodwillfinds #galialahav #weddingdress
But on her way out she noticed a section they didn't go through, so she went back to look. That's where she found the beautiful designer gown, which luckily for other brides won't be the only Lahav gown to hang on Goodwill racks. People received a press release from the designer revealing her plan to work with Goodwills across the country to donate wedding gowns.
"It's a reminder that sometimes, life's surprises can be as beautiful as the dress itself," Galia Lahav said according to People.
Im so freaking excited about this find, i may not even use it when it comes to the day because im not getting engaged or married for awhile but maybe its fate lol also jlo has worn this brand as well #galialahav #galialahavbride #goodwill #weddingdress @Galia Lahav
Under the original video, people are flabbergasted by the woman's thrifting find.
"As someone who has worked in bridal for 9 years and still has never seen a Galia Lahav in person, my jaw is on the FLOOR. The find of a LIFETIME," one woman writes.
"We literally sell this dress where I work for $6800 20/10 find," another person says.
"You had me at $25 designer wedding dress. A $6,175 save. To add it looks stunning on you, like it was made for you," someone writes.
There's no telling what you'll find at the Goodwill, it can be anything from used salt and pepper shakers with little monetary value or a sculpted bust that turns out to be priceless. But thanks to Osterhoudt's viral find, brides to be across America will soon be able to scour their local Goodwills to find a buried treasure left by the designer herself.
“We want everybody to feel good. That’s not the way life is."
Deion Sanders changed our perceptions of an an athlete when he was one of the handful of people to ever play in the National Football League (1989 to 2005) and Major League Baseball simultaneously (1989 to 1997 and 2001).
Now, he’s changing perceptions on the sidelines as a head college football coach by being passionate, provocative and unapologetically “old school.”
Last season, the Colorado Buffaloes only won one game. This year, after hiring Sanders as a coach, the team is 3-0. One of the big reasons for the overnight change is that Sanders had no problem firing the entire coaching staff and replacing most of the team’s players.
Before the season began, Sanders told the team he was going to be hard on them and bring in a bunch of new guys from the transfer portal. If the players weren’t with how he was running things, he asked them to transfer out of the program.
“Now, if you went for that, if you were able to let words run you off, you ain’t for us because we’re a old-school staff,” he told “60 Minutes.” “We coach hard. We coach tough. We’re disciplinarians. So, if you’re allowing verbiage to run you off because you don’t feel secure with your ability, you ain’t for us,” he said.
"I’m sure that your straight talk was appreciated by some. But, is this scorched-earth policy good for college football or for the kids?” interviewer Jon Wertheim asked.
“I think truth is good for kids. We’re so busy lyin’, we don’t even recognize the truth no more in society,” Sanders replied. “We want everybody to feel good. That’s not the way life is. Now, it is my job to make sure I have what we need to win. That makes a lot of people feel good. Winning does,” he said.
Sanders’ honesty is probably refreshing to a lot of people who think kids are too coddled these days. What’s interesting is that his ultimate goal is exactly the same as a parent or coach who sugarcoats things. Sanders believes that by pushing young people hard they can achieve great things and through that success comes happiness.
"If he owns a light saber—green flag."
Historically, guys with a passion for comic books, Star Wars, or anything else that might have a fandom, haven’t exactly been the poster boys for the ideal love interest. But nowadays, it looks like nerds really do get revenge.
Because apparently, everything that makes a great nerd, also happened to make a great husband. At least, according to thousands of women on social media.
Married podcaster Isabel Brown recently went viral on TikTok for attesting that “nerds make the best husbands,” and that society just gives them a bad rep.
Brown made her appeal as part of a stitch with another woman asking how to find a man that are thoughtful, attentive, good fathers, and know how to “spoil” their wives.
Brown’s response? “They’re nerds.”
“It honestly blows my mind how we have this entire trope in American literature and movies and TV shows about the nerdy girl who gets the glow up when she grows up,” ranted Brown of the common theme features in famed rom-com classics like “She’s All That” and “Never Been Kissed, but we don’t say that for men!” Brown says in her video.
In her opinion, we should be taking those nerdy traits as “green flags.”
“Hear me loud and clear, if he owns a lightsaber — green flag,” says Brown. “If he has purchased a wand from the wizarding world of Harry Potter — greenest possible flag. If he has an unhealthy obsession with Ashoka Tano, you better run to the altar.”
Brown even allots “bonus points” to a guy obsessed with monopoly.
Nerds make the best husbands. It’s a fact.♬ original sound - Isabel Brown
But why does she think these traits translate into being good husbands? Because from her perspective, it means these men will appreciate their partner’s inner drives more, and understand heartfelt passions.
“Those little underestimated nerd boys grow up to be men who see what’s on here,” she says, while placing a hand on her heart.
Brown clearly wasn’t alone in her opinion. Several married women who had nerdy husbands of their own chimed in to agree.
“Mine has a LOTR sword and I knew he was the one after that,” wrote fellow TikTok creator Elyse Myers.
Another woman commented “I married the anime loving, nerdy gamer boy. Wouldn’t change it for the world.”
One even created her own stitch video showing snapshots of her husband as a kid (read: nerdy kid) and adult while singing his praises.
“She’s right. It’s the nerds…[My husband] is amazing. He’s sweet, kind, loving and an amazing father. It’s the nerds,” she insisted.
According to a male relationship influencer who goes by @urdivorcesurvivalguide, it’s being chronic outsiders that make nerdy men good partners.
@urdivorcesurvivalguide #stitch with @Isabel Brown ♬ original sound - UrDivorceSurvivalGuide
“Watching those beautiful girls [they’ve] always been attracted to” receive less-than-stellar treatment from other guys that are typically seen as more attractive provides a curriculum for “what not to do [in relationships],” he says.
According to some, however, this isn’t a foolproof dating plan.
As self-described nerd Justin explains, if a woman simply dates a nerdy man in hopes that it will make him a more loyal and dedicated partner, but doesn’t have any nerdy qualities herself and isn’t “willing to become part of that culture in some way,” then they won’t actually be able to build anything meaningful.
@ramblinglifter #stitch with @Isabel Brown ♬ original sound - Justin
While it’s true that shared interests can create deep bonds, many experts agree that it isn’t vital to having a fulfilling relationship. In fact, having a partner with opposite interests can help us grow into more well rounded individuals. What really matters in the long run is having similar values and ethics.
Still, to Justin’s point, it probably isn’t best to date someone simply for what they can do for you. You need to actually appreciate who they are.
All this to say—aside from general personal improvement, it probably isn’t necessary for you to change key aspects of who you are in order to become more desirable by potential partners. What really matters is being authentic and actually being ready to be a partner.