I've watched every Patriots game since 1991. But I can't this Sunday.

​​I've watched or attended every New England Patriot's game since 1991. I won't be doing either this Sunday.

Image by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images.

Ever since I can remember, I've been a New England Patriots fan. For a long time, the Patriots were a very bad football team. They were the laughing stock of the league. I spent many a winter on cold metal benches angry at my brother for dragging me to see an awful performance every other Sunday.


All that changed though with the arrival of head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. Four Super Bowls and a few controversies later, the legend of the greatest coach-player duo is still growing on the gridiron.

Image by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

Bill Belichick is a genius on the football field. But something changed for me when he publicly endorsed the now president-elect.

On the eve of the election, Trump spoke at a rally in New Hampshire and read out loud a letter written by Belichick. In it, Belichick praised the candidate's perseverance and work ethic, and he enthusiastically, publicly supported Trump's candidacy.

Image by Scott Eisen/Getty Images.

Brady was also pulled into it. His wife, Gisele Bündchen, reportedly dispelled the myth that they had already voted for him.

This all shocked me to the core. Then when Trump won, it sparked a series of personal reflections like never before. After 350 games of unwavering support, I now needed to step away from my team.

It may seem like a small, silly protest and have you thinking, "It's just football," but the emotions felt by many, many groups are real and palpable.

I need time to reconcile the fact that Belichick publicly supported someone who has spouted so much hate. It's been terribly difficult trying to explain this to my friends.

I have a bunch of text "chat rooms" where my closest friends and I chew the fat on a myriad of subjects. To be clear, they're all wonderful humans and I'm lucky to have them as a support system.

After the election, some of them weren't as worried about what could happen to the freedoms of minorities, women, Muslims, and the LGBTQ community. While I admire that practical mentality, I was shocked. Then, I realized why I felt the way I did.

I'm the only person of color in this conversation. We never talked about it and we didn't address it.

It was hard to try to explain my palpable fear to them. It was difficult to express my emotional state after witnessing a campaign filled with divisive racism, sexism, homophobia,  fear mongering, and the marginalization of all non-white people. I gently tried, but privately, I cried.

Sports are part of the fabric of who I am, but for now, I have to rip it off like velcro.

Sports are my escape. They're a way for me to remember my hometown.  But right now, watching the Patriots isn't either of those things. I need to step away. This is not a condemnation of the team. This is not a condemnation of New England. I am proud of my city, and I love my friends.

As far as Bill Belichick and the Patriots go, however, I need them to understand supporting this kind of candidate has questioned my allegiance to a team I've grown to love over the past 25 years.

Image by Jim Rogash/ Getty Images.

There are bigger things than the game.

We don't know if those statements and proposed policies of mass-deportation, profiling, wall building, rescinding basic human rights, and disregard for sexual assault are going to become normalized in America. I need time to process it all.

There is much more to worry about than a football game, so I'm going to step away, gain some clarity, and prepare myself for the next four years. And maybe, perhaps, the playoffs.

I hope to do this again. Photo by Shane Kennedy.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

The year 2018 was a pivotal one in the produce industry, the Red Delicious was supplanted as the most popular apple in America by the sweeter, crisper Gala.

It was only a matter of time. The Red Delicious looked the part of the king of the apples with its deep red, flawless skin. But its interior was soft, mealy, and pretty bland. The Red Delicious was popular for growers because its skin hid any bruises and it was desired by consumers because of its appearance.

But these days it's having a hard time competing with the delectable crunch provided by the Gala, honeycrisp, and Fuji.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."