How do you make a bullied kid feel like a superhero? Turn them into one, of course.

When Josh Rossi and his wife Roxana first heard about the bullying Jackson Bezzant was experiencing, they knew they had to do something to make him feel like the superhero he is.

Bezzant has Treacher Collins syndrome, a genetic condition that caused issues with his facial bones and tissue development. The differences in his appearance led to excessive bullying in school, to the point where his classmates were calling him "monster" and "freak." Rossi came across a video of Jackson's dad explaining the challenges his child faced, and Rossi was heartbroken.

“As I was watching, I felt as though he were speaking directly to me,” Rossi wrote. “I immediately messaged him on social media and told him I was doing a new project on bullying and wanted his son to be part of it.”    


So how does one make a bullied kid feel like a superhero? By turning them into one, of course.

All photos courtesy of Josh Rossi.

Inspired by the trailer for "The Avengers," the photographer and digital artist partnered with Vero to create "The Avengers of Bullying," a photo series dedicated to really awesome kids who have experienced bullying. They get to play dress up as incredible bad-guy-fighting Marvel superheroes.

"We knew that if we could provide a platform where each kid could make a powerful statement against abuse, it would help unite others against it," wrote Rossi.

When Josh began the series, he had no idea what the project would look like. But after getting Bezzant on board, other kids joined too. The children who became involved in the project had faced excessive bullying for things like their gender identity, depression, and being a refugee. The project became incredibly popular and even gained the attention of Justin Bieber’s little brother, Jaxon.  

With between one in four and one in three U.S. students saying they have been bullied at school, Rossi wanted to make sure the kids felt seen.

“We knew that if we could provide a platform where each kid could make a powerful statement against abuse, it would help unite others against it.”

These 10 empowering, adorable photos show just how cool these children are.

1. Cole Helton, Vision  

2. Jaxon Bieber, Thor

3. Joshua Walker, Star Lord

4. Benson Bateman, Spiderman

5. Morisi Elkano, the Black Panther

6. Mia Verlade, the Scarlet Witch

7. Jaron Balico, Drax

8. Jackson Sommers, Dr. Strange

9. Jackson Bezzant, Captain America

10. Benjamin Crofts, Falcon

These photos won't solve the problem of bullying, but creating spaces where kids feel seen, heard, and empowered is a huge step toward creating a better, kinder world.

To learn more about the kids' stories, check out Josh Rossi's post here and watch the video below.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
True

Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

Keep Reading Show less

In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.