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.
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
Kids really do say the darndest things.
One of the greatest parenting milestones is the day you get to explain to your children the basics of sex. Sometimes that day arrives because a kid bluntly asks how babies are made, sometimes parents bring it up so their kids to hear it from them before they hear it from other people, and sometimes it's a result of an unexpected encounter (like a kid walking in on their parents doing the deed).
However you arrive at it, that initial conversation is always interesting. No matter how prepared you think you are, some awkward hilarity is inevitable as you navigate those new waters. Sex is pretty simple on the one hand, but quite complicated on the other, and figuring what details to share at what stage is a tricky balancing act.
Some kids are open and curious and ask a million questions. Some kids are quiet and reserved and process it all in their own sweet time. But the first reaction of most pre-pubescent kids when they first hear about the mechanics of sex, even if you introduce it in a sex-positive way, is something along the lines of "What?? Are you serious? EW." And when they connect the dots that their parents had sex in order for them to be alive, the reaction gets even funnier.
A thread on Twitter illustrates how true this is as parents share their children's reactions to hearing about the birds and the bees.
A thread on Twitter illustrates how true this is as parents share their children's reactions to hearing about the birds and the bees.
\u201c@Kezfromchadders @meganmuircoyle My daughter (6 at the time) asked if we need to have a doctor watch us do it since he is putting something inside my body. Then she asked if she could see how far it goes inside. \ud83d\ude2c We then explained privacy.\u201d— megan (@megan) 1612314141
Clearly, Megan has three kids. Logic.
Some kids let questions slip out before thinking about whether they really want to know the answer. Once you know it, you can't unknow it. Sorry, kiddo.
@meganmuircoyle On a summer walk my 1 boy(9) was asking ? about sex & I explained everything. My husband was away f… https://t.co/0hHQQxUFgt— arlene geerlinks (@arlene geerlinks) 1612372163.0
Parents have to be prepared for awkward questions, but sometimes you really can't predict what a kid might want to know. Kids aren't exactly known for having boundaries, and that's doubly true for a topic that's totally new for them.
\u201c@AnnieTook @meganmuircoyle I remember asking my mom how you\u2019d know \u201c when you inseminated a woman\u201d. I was like 9 and I still remember the look on Her face.\u201d— megan (@megan) 1612314141
Most of us don't like to imagine our parents having sex, so this is one area where kids who are adopted have somewhat of an advantage (until they learn that procreation isn't the only reason people have sex).
“@meganmuircoyle My kids are adopted, and I once heard, "Well, at least you guys didn't have to do THAT!"”
“@meganmuircoyle My kid learned about it in the backseat at Target in a spur of the moment conversation. We got home and she goes up to her Dad, “YOU STUCK YOUR PENIS IN MOM’S VAGINA TWICE!!!””
\u201c@meganmuircoyle My kid learned about it in the backseat at Target in a spur of the moment conversation. We got home and she goes up to her Dad, \u201cYOU STUCK YOUR PENIS IN MOM\u2019S VAGINA TWICE!!!\u201d\u201d— megan (@megan) 1612314141
It's not just the questions, but the declarations that come along with kids learning about sex that can take parents by surprise.
“@meganmuircoyle @bames_jrolin My nephew was about 7 when he got this info. At the next big holiday dinner he spontaneously stood up on his chair, flexed his biceps and loudly announced, “I am strong and healthy and full of sperm!””
\u201c@meganmuircoyle @bames_jrolin My nephew was about 7 when he got this info. At the next big holiday dinner he spontaneously stood up on his chair, flexed his biceps and loudly announced, \u201cI am strong and healthy and full of sperm!\u201d\u201d— megan (@megan) 1612314141
It's always entertaining to see a kid's understanding move from innocence to reality.
@meganmuircoyle when he got older I told him about the cervix, contractions, labour etc and he was like "oh. okay.… https://t.co/u7mnCiVYUg— L. (@L.) 1612384726.0
And even more entertaining when you realize that you were the one who inadvertently introduced your kid to a sexual concept you may not have been prepared to discuss.
“@fitz_lorie @meganmuircoyle @JoJoFromJerz I asked my mom the same question around the same age. She wanted to know where I had heard such a word from. Ummm from you and my aunt talking the other day. 😂😂😂😂 She never asked that question again! It’s important to know I was raised Southern Baptist! 😂”
\u201c@fitz_lorie @meganmuircoyle @JoJoFromJerz I asked my mom the same question around the same age. She wanted to know where I had heard such a word from. Ummm from you and my aunt talking the other day. \ud83d\ude02\ud83d\ude02\ud83d\ude02\ud83d\ude02 She never asked that question again! It\u2019s important to know I was raised Southern Baptist! \ud83d\ude02\u201d— megan (@megan) 1612314141
And then there are the unintentional misunderstandings that occur when kids don't get quite enough information.
Perhaps the funniest part about talking about sex with kids is how actually kind of weird the physical act really is when you think about it. Of course it seems absurd to children who haven't sexually developed yet.
In fact, some kids find it so weird, they literally don't believe it.
Like, what the heck with this design? And they don't even know at this point about the nitty-gritty details that you only really know once you've done it.
As funny as these stories are, the fact that parents are having open and honest conversations with their kids about sex is seriously awesome. Some people do their kids a disservice by being too creeped out to talk about it, or maybe worrying they'll give too much info, so they don't talk about it.
Whatever your moral perspectives on the topic, sex is part of life. It's basic health and biology. It's a human reality that everyone learns about one way or another, and it's generally better for kids to learn about sex from their parents than from their peers, who might give wrong information. Starting early by answering kids' questions matter-of-factly, giving age-appropriate details (which admittedly can be hard to discern), and bringing up the topic occasionally if your kids don't can help kids ease into a healthy understanding of sex.
While the basic mechanics conversation is indeed a parenting milestone, the best parent-child conversations about sex are ongoing and ever-expanding. Making consent and boundaries part of the conversation is vital as well. Some uncomfortable moments may be inevitable, but keep the line of communication wide open will go a long way toward helping kids prepare for what's to come.
This article originally appeared on 02.04.21
“If we don’t see each other again on this earth, we’ll see each other in heaven."
94-year-old Barbara Carolan of Seabrook, Massachusetts, hadn’t been able to see her 90-year-old sister Shirley, who lives in Nevada, since 2020.When it became clear to Barbara that she might not have much time left to spend with her beloved sister, she prepared to make the 2,700-mile cross country trip to say goodbye.
“They waited so long to see each other, and if you don’t know if you’re going to see someone again, you know, especially siblings, it must be really hard,” Barbara’s granddaughter, Stephanie Atkinson Shively, told told her local news outlet WMUR.Shively volunteered to ride alongside her grandmother and document the trip. In a TikTok video, which has been seen over 13 million times, we see Barbara and Shirley getting emotional while reminiscing.
“We had a wonderful, wonderful time,” Barbara tells Shirley through tears.
“If we don’t see each other [again] on this earth, we’ll see each other in heaven,” her little sister assured.
“You betcha!” Barbara sobs. “You betcha.”
@stephanieatkinson #goodbye #sistersforever #notgoodbye ♬ original sound - Stephanie Atkinson Shively
Needless to say, viewers were struck by the sweet moment.
“There needs to be a category on this app for videos that are guaranteed to make you cry cuz dammit I’m tired of randomly balling my eyes out!” one person wrote.
Another added, “It’s not good bye, it’s see you later. I imagine when we pass, it’ll be like going home. And never again will we have to be separated from the ones we love.”Shively shared several other moments from the journeys, including some pictures of the sisters when they were younger. But the ‘last tearjerker’ showed grandma Barbara waving goodbye as she made her way back home.
There’s a bit of comic relief in this one, as Barbara yells “until we meet again!” and gets “WHAT?!” from Shirley, having to repeat herself a few times.
@stephanieatkinson #sistersforever #notgoodbye #sisterlylove ♬ original sound - Stephanie Atkinson Shively
All in all, just a beautiful, heartwarming reminder to savor our lives, and all the loved ones in it.
Now go hug someone.
His two little girls called him up on stage to perform the song he wrote for them.
We've seen some moving America's Got Talent stories before, but a recent viral audition absolutely requires a tissue warning. I tried to steel myself in preparation when I saw the "Admit it, we were *all* in tears after this" caption on the Facebook share of it, but I failed.
In a video that's been shared more than 95,000 times, the "Britain's Got Talent" audition shows two tiny little girls onstage with their grandmother. They introduce themselves as "Cally" (age 4) and "Savannah" (age 3) and "Nanny" (their "daddy's mummy") then the girls share that they are there to surprise their dad.
Dad—also known as Nick Edwards—is sitting in the audience. He thought the family was there to watch the audition on a fun outing; he had no idea that they had arranged a surprise audition for him, so when his girls and mom showed up on stage, he wondered what was going on.
A "Britain's Got Talent" spokesperson explained to the Daily Mail how they got Edwards mic'd up without giving away the surprise.
"When Nick entered the Palladium auditorium during ‘BGT’ auditions, he was approached to be part of our ‘gogglebox’ audience and told he would be mic’d up so we could capture his reactions throughout the day as he sat in the audience," they said. “He was totally unsuspecting. We did this so we could mic him up without him suspecting a thing.”
As Edwards tried to figure out what his mom and daughters were doing on stage, Edwards' mother explained to the judges and the audience that he sings a special song to his girls. She said they wanted him to come up and sing it. Naturally, not being prepared for an audition, Edwards was stunned. But the judges sent him backstage to "grab a glass of water" so he could compose himself and get ready.
"They gave me some time to warm up—about 45 minutes in total," Edwards told This Morning. "They gave me my guitar my family brought down on the day, they [producers] said this is the song we want you to sing because we'd seen it on your Instagram."
The song is an emotional doozy, especially if you're a parent. "It's a song I've felt quite attached to so I sing it a lot around the house," Edwards told the judges before he started to sing. Once you hear it, you'll see why he joked about trying to keep from crying while he sang it.
Lovely voice. Beautiful song. Adorable little girls. Not a dry eye in the house.
Tissue, seriously. Don't say I didn't warn you.
The fact that Edwards was able to pull off that audition with less than an hour of preparation was quite impressive. He told This Morning what he was thinking during that prep time.
"If I go out I've got two options here, I either go out and try to own it or I come out and it all crumbles…" he said. "The whole thing just went so quickly. I do remember playing and in a way my fingers started to get a bit jelly, I remember thinking 'this is going to be a big moment for you.' I don't want to stuff it up."
Stuff it up he did not. What a lovely performance, and what lucky little girls to have a daddy who shares his love for them in such a beautiful and creative way.
This article originally appeared on 04.22.22
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Samuel J. Seymour was 95 years old when he appeared on “I’ve Got a Secret.”
Samuel J. Seymour was one of the approximately 1,700 people at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 1865, the night President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. He was also the last to live long enough to talk about that historic night on television.
Seymour was 5 years old when he went to see the play “Our American Cousin” with his nurse, Sarah Cook, and Mrs. Goldsboro, the wife of his father's employer.
When Booth shot Lincoln, he pulled the trigger during the biggest laugh of the night so that it wouldn’t be heard. What caught Seymour’s attention was when Booth fell from the balcony after a scuffle with Henry Reed Rathbone.
Chaos erupted in the theater and Seymour was ushered out by his nurse. While they fled he overheard people screaming, "Lincoln's shot! The President is dead!"
"I saw Lincoln slumped forward in his seat," the old man later recalled. "That night I was shot 50 times, at least, in my dreams—and I sometimes relive the horror of Lincoln's assassination, dozing in my rocker as an old codger like me is bound to do."
Two months before Seymour’s death at the age of 95, he appeared on the game show “I've Got a Secret,” where panelists tried to guess his secret: “I saw John Wilkes Booth shoot Abraham Lincoln (April 14, 1865).”
Seymour didn’t speak much during the show but he did make a historic understatement when panelist Jayne Meadows asked if his secret was “a pleasant thing,” to which Seymour replied, “Not very pleasant I don’t think. I was scared to death.”
This article originally appeared on 2.3.23
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.