Intimidating hazmat suits just got friendlier thanks to an artist's touch.

Are you in there?

How can you tell what these people look like?

Image by Carl de Souza/Getty Images.


You really can't, right?

Now imagine being sick, isolated, and afraid, with a figure in a hazmat suit hovering over you.

Zoinks. If you're like me, hazmat suits and other personal protective equipment have always been a little scary and mysterious looking. Yes, they're completely lifesaving and necessary, but unless it's Halloween or a fictional television show (hi, "Breaking Bad"), they usually mean something serious is going very wrong. How wrong? Ebola wrong.

When Ebola hit hard in 2014, hazmat suits came with it. A lot of them.

It didn't take long to see just how quickly an infectious virus could scare the heck out of the world. The numbers were jarring, the paranoia was high, and the images shown in the media elevated fears to a whole different level.

Can't imagine hazmat suits helped those fears much.

Artist and Occidental College professor Mary Beth Heffernan was very taken back while watching coverage of the Ebola crisis. She couldn't help but think of how frightening the health workers must have appeared to the patients they were treating.

"I thought, what would it be like if you were a patient looking at that?" she said.

A health care worker treating an Ebola patient by Issouf Sanogo/Getty Images.

Her artistic brain kicked in, and she came up with an idea to make protective suits a little more personal.

Mary thought, what if photos of the health care workers could be taken and attached to their suits? It'd show who was really underneath all of the gear and serve as a simple (but effective) way to put patients who were already going through a very traumatic time at ease.

She ran with it and launched the PPE Portrait Project.

It's changed how patients see their health care workers.

Living in isolation, torn apart from family and friends, and not seeing a human face for days can make a bad situation even worse. Adding a human element — if even through a sticker — could only help.

I talked to Mary at length about her preparation for this project. She did extensive research on the Ebola crisis, cultural norms in West Africa, and spoke with everyone from doctors to scientists to anthropologists on how to best approach her idea. She began to write letters all day and night to try and reach the right health care facilities and workers. Throughout the lengthy process, one thing was constant: Her idea was a hit.

She eventually made her way to Liberia while on sabbatical with a discreet package of supplies to see her project forward. The two main things: a reliable camera that could print photos and adhesive labels.

She got started.

First, a picture.

Then, printing them out!

And she was able to teach the health care workers how to create the photo labels themselves, so they'd be set when she left.

Stick 'em on, and boom! There's a friendly face where there was once only a scary suit.

The response has been terrific, and as mentioned in the video below (that you should totally watch!), some health care workers wish they would've had the photo labels sooner. They think they could have saved more lives.

The PPE Portrait Project is a simple way to help comfort patients who have to undergo this kind of horrifying, isolated experience while also humanizing the health care superheroes behind the suits. A GREAT idea in my book.

Rock on, Mary!

See more about the PPE Portrait Project here:

More
True
the Ad Council - #TrendOnThis

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens
via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture