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
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
“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.
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.
"Grief doesn't have to be something that just hits you when you're not ready for it."
When you lose a loved one, the grief can sometimes feel impossible to bear. Time may help to soften the initial blow, but grieving is an up-and-down process without a specific trajectory or timeline. Some small thing can happen to trigger a memory—a song, a sound, a smell—and a wave of grief can hit without warning.
But is there a way to proactively manage grief rather than just react to it? According to singer and songwriter Andy Grammer, there can be, and it's really quite lovely.
If you don't know, Grammer is the multi-platinum recording artist behind a slew of uplifting hits such as "Keep Your Head Up," "Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah)," and "Lease on Life." He's known for his positive, optimistic songwriting, which might lead some to assume he's not experienced a painful loss. On the contrary, Grammer's mother, Kathy, passed away from breast cancer when he was 25, and her death rocked his world.
He's written about her in many of his songs, but he also takes an approach to grief that he refers to as "going on offense."
In an interview on Podcrushed, Grammer explained what he means by that.
"If I see someone that's the same age as my mother in front of me in line, I'll go on offense and I'll be like, 'Hey, I lost my mom and I don't get to buy her stuff. Would you mind if I bought your coffee?' I'll just live that way. And when you live that way, crazy stuff happens."
He shared a story as an example.
Grammer was eating breakfast at a cafe in Boston back in 2018 near where he was playing a show. He saw a group of women about his mom's age at a table and had that feeling that he wanted to buy their breakfast. He hesitated because it was so close to the venue he was playing and he didn't want to seem like he was doing something nice to draw attention to himself, but the feeling persisted.
"Finally, I just give into it and I walk over and I say, 'Listen, my mom passed away. One of the things I like to do for her is just pay for women's breakfasts sometimes. It would mean a lot to me…if you would just let me pay for your breakfast this morning.' The lady on the left just starts bawling. And she says, 'I lost my son. He was about your age.' So we both stand up and I'm just like bawling with a stranger."
The worst thing that can happen when you stay open and follow those inner promptings, Grammer says, is that you feel stupid sometimes if someone responds like you're being weird. But most of the time, that's not the reaction.
"I dare everyone to live and to play with it," he said. "Grief doesn't have to be something that just hits you when you're not ready for it."
He suggests to people who are grieving the loss of someone to think of something specific about that person, something they did or something they loved, and go out and offer that thing to other people.
"Their thing was to make bread? Set days and make bread and give it out. Go on offense to be a part of it, and get this really sweet feeling of remembering them."
Watch how he explains:
Go on offense with grief 🖤 #grief #loss #lossofaparent
Grammer's approach really resonated with people who have lost loved ones themselves.
"I don’t who this man is but I just lost my dad who just turned 60 and I struggle so much with it. I’m sobbing at how beautiful this approach is," shared one person.
"Lost my dad to the pandemic and this feels like this thinking I might be a game changer for me. Thank you," wrote another.
"I’m so utterly affected by this conversation. It speaks to healing with community by giving ourselves permission to connect with others," shared another.
"Thank you. My mom died two years ago and I’m so tired of people telling me to get over it and move on. I want to celebrate her all the time," someone else added.
"THIS IS SO GOOD. I lost my mom too and could not agree more. I’ve never heard it explained like 'offense' love it ❤️❤️," added another.
Grammer and the hosts of Podcrushed went deeper into grief processing in their full conversation. You can listen to the Podcrushed episode with Andy Grammer here.
"It's one thing if you're not into fat women — everyone has their preferences — but if you want to have sex with us without being seen in public with us, that's emotionally abusive."
This article originally appeared on 06.29.18
Many years before I got together with my boyfriend, I had a sex thing with this guy that I thought was relationship material.
He not only had an amazing body but a great personality as well. I was honest when I met him that I was looking for something more than just sex, and he led me to believe that was what he wanted, too.
Between mind-blowing sex sessions, we ordered in, played video games, and watched movies — couple things but without the label. But when I tried to get him to go to a show or out to dinner with me, he refused. My frustration grew as the months went on, and one day I confronted him.
"Why don't we ever go anywhere?"
"We have everything we need here," he answered while simultaneously distracting me by caressing my shoulder blades.
"We actually don't," I said. "I'm hungry, let's check out that new Indian place around the corner."
"No! We might run into one of my buddies," he said, moving his body further away from me. The underlining meaning was clear — he couldn't take the chance that someone he knew would see him with me.
He needed to keep our relationship on the DL so that no one would ever suspect that he enjoyed spending time with me — a fat woman.
He was super fit, so obviously that's the kind of woman he wanted to be associated with, the kind he could be seen with at the Indian place.
When I realized he was ashamed of being seen with me, I felt as if I had been punched in the stomach — a place where much of my pain already resided.
To him, I was fuckable but not dateable. He dumped me soon after that conversation.
He did me a favor by not continuing to lead me on. Otherwise, I might still be trying to prove to him that I was worth any shit he might have gotten from other people. If I was still his secret shame, I might not have met my next boyfriend, so thanks, athletic asshole.
I had hoped that, in this age of body positivity, men would no longer need to hide their desires when it comes to fat women.
But I was wrong.
It's just a sad fact: Many men who are sexually attracted to fat women are ashamed of it.
They're OK with banging a fat girl, but they don't want to hang out with her — someone might judge them for it.
It's one thing if you're not into fat women — everyone has their preferences, and not every body type appeals to everyone. But if you find larger women hot and you want to have sex with them without being associated in public with them, that's emotionally abusive.
Everyone should have the freedom to express their desires openly (as long as there's consent from both parties). If you modify your behavior and wants to what you think will protect you from criticism and/or ridicule, then you need help because that kind of self-loathing will only grow until it has destroyed you.
Don't act like we're in a relationship if all you really want is to experience what sex with a fat woman is like.
I'll tell you what it's like: It's as amazing and fun as having sex with anyone who's into having sex with you. We don't have magic vaginas, and our breasts don't do any special tricks — well besides the usual, like feed or comfort people.
Fat women are just as hot and sexually gifted as women of other shapes, sizes, and abilities. Being fat doesn't mean we're so hungry for attention that we'll put our own needs aside and do whatever we can to rock your world.
If you're with someone who doesn't make you feel beautiful or who isn't proud to have you on their arm, you need to dump their ass.
Being alone is far better than compromising on what you deserve or being made to feel as if you're someone's big dirty secret.
You're not only dateable, you're lovable and worthy of being treated with respect and love.
I regret not standing up for myself when I discovered the athletic guy was only using me for sex. But at least I learned, as we all should learn, that I'm responsible for being my biggest advocate and to never accepting anything less than what I need.