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When scrolling through Instagram, you may come across a captivating image like this:

Europe is currently facing one of the biggest migrant crisis in recent history, with over 400,000 migrants this year having already reached Europe as they brave the dangerous and arduous journey to flee from war and dire economic conditions in their various homelands. 2,800 of them has lost their lives attempting to reach Europe this year, while many others are stuck in limbo as European countries decide how to handle the influx of migrants. To help support the migrants, we have partnered with the International Association For Refugees (@iafr_media) to fundraise for their refugee relief efforts. On October 3rd, join us in Jersey City, NJ, or Austin, TX, for a walk to raise funds and awareness for IAFR's efforts in Europe. Visit @iafr_media to learn more about what they're doing to help, and sign up here (http://on.fb.me/1LdNowa) for the fundraising walks. 📷: @saunakspace #gramforacause #refugeeswelcome #openheartsus

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Or this:

Or this:

Maybe it catches your attention; maybe it even intrigues you enough that you want to learn more about the subject featured in the image.

That's what Gramforacause is counting on.

But let's back up a little bit.

A few years ago, digital storyteller Denise Chan found herself engaging more and more with Instagram. And she noticed a few interesting things about it.

One was that it had a really passionate community of creatives — on and offline. Chan started attending "Insta-meets," in-person meet-ups where she and fellow Instagrammers would take photos together around a certain theme or style. She was inspired by how passionate and engaged the community was.

She was also intrigued by how Instagram was accelerating as a marketing tool — particularly when it came to influencer marketing.

And then she noticed one more thing: Many nonprofits were, well, missing the Instagram boat.

From the intersection of those three things, Gramforacause was born.

Members of the Gramforacause crew. All images via Gramforacause, used with permission.

How it works is simple:

1. Nonprofits that have a cool story but no one to tell it — or rather, show it —  submit a project request.

2. Gramforacause has a database of more than 200 (mostly volunteer) photographers around the country, dubbed "storytellers." When they get a request from a nonprofit, the team carefully reviews it and chooses a storyteller who would be a great fit for that specific project.

3. The storyteller and nonprofit each receive an email with project specs. If both parties are interested in working together, Gramforacause makes the introduction.

Projects range from photographing one-off, offline events to online campaigns where the storyteller posts images over a series of weeks. They've also done Instagram takeovers, with storytellers directly accessing the nonprofit's account and posting on its behalf for a few days. Many of the storytellers are Instagram influencers, so they crosspost on their own channels as well.

Gramforacause has only been around for two years, but in that time, it's done some pretty awesome things.

Whitney Tressel, Gramforacause's community manager, photographed the Salvation Army's Divisional Star Search event.  

Image by Whitney Tressel/Gramforacause.

Storyteller Cathy Lee snapped some photos while in Haiti visiting friends she'd met on a previous mission trip.

Photo via Cathy Lee (@cathyslee)/Gramforacause.

Storyteller Karen Heredia shot a volunteer/sponsor party put on by Reveal, an organization that puts on workshops and experiences that help empower women who have experienced domestic violence. At the party, attendees shared moving experiences they've had while volunteering with the org.

Image by Katen Heredia (@khere)/Gramforacause.

They also held an event with Big Brothers Big Sisters where they taught mini photography workshops to the "bigs" and "littles," and then sent them out along with storytellers on a mobile photography scavenger hunt.

"The kids came back, and they were really inspired by it," Chan says. "We had a few kids that said they wanted to pursue photography professionally."

In 2016, Gramforacause partnered with CWS (Church World Service) to put on a fundraiser called Hello, Neighbor.

The goal was to raise funds to support resettling refugee families in the Jersey City area.

The event offered food, music, local vendors, and a photo booth by Pursuit of Portraits (a portrait photography magazine that actually started as an Instagram account). Refugees from the area who work with CWS also came and shared their stories.

"It was a great community bonding and a very educational experience for a lot of people who came out," Chan says. And it was a success; they surpassed their fundraising goal and raised nearly $3,000 for CWS.

Another neat thing that's come out of these project is that many storytellers find themselves wanting to learn more about the nonprofits' work.

"We've found that actually ... a majority of our photographers that sign up said that they're interested in using or joining Gramforacause in order to learn more about causes and ways that they can get involved," Chan says.

She adds, "Social media has really made it so easy for people to find their platform. Just using these channels to connect people and build their own ways of giving back."

If you are an Instagram whiz, Gramforacause can always use more storytellers and brand ambassadors. If you're interested in joining them — or donating  — check them out.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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Photo by TR on Unsplash

Companies and organizations are on the side of their employees in light of stricter abortion laws.

The leak from the Supreme Court about overturning Roe v. Wade caused many people with uteruses to go into a tailspin. People began scheduling appointments for long-term birth control. Some opted for permanent birth control. Others stocked up on Plan B or called in preemptive prescriptions for the abortion pill mifepristone. In addition to making tangible plans for what the future might hold in some of these trigger states, people took to the streets to make their voices heard. Protests were held across America against the proposed overturning of Roe v. Wade, which protects people’s right to abortion under the 14th Amendment.

People are also organizing over social media. They’re helping locate nonprofits that will help cover the cost of travel from a restricted state to states where abortion will remain legal. Secret Facebook groups are popping up to help arrange transportation and accommodations for those who need access to safe reproductive care. People are coming together in ways you see in movies, all in an effort to prevent inevitable deaths that would occur if people attempt home abortions. It’s both heartwarming and heart-wrenching that this is something that needs to be done at all. It doesn’t stop with determined activists and housewives across the country, this fiery spirit has reached corporations as well.

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via Pexels

If you know how to fix this tape, you grew up in the 1990s.

There are a lot of reasons to feel a twinge of nostalgia for the final days of the 20th century. Rampant inflation, a global pandemic and political unrest have created a sense of uneasiness about the future that has everyone feeling a bit down.

There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

But, you gotta admit, that TV is still pretty damn good.

A lot of folks feel Americans have become a lot harsher to one another due to political divides, which seem to be widening by the day due to the power of the internet and partisan media.

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