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levar burton lifetime achievement award

Our face when we think of LeVar Burton

Since 1983, LeVar Burton has helped children discover the wonder and adventure of books with “Reading Rainbow.” For his 23 years of exceptional educational programming, Burton will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the first ever Children’s & Family Emmy Awards. And it couldn’t be more well deserved.

Levar Burton Television GIFGiphy

But you don’t have to take our word for it…


Over the course of his lengthy career, Burton has already received 22 awards for his work, including 12 Daytime Emmys, a Peabody, a Grammy and multiple NAACP Image Awards. Though of course some of that recognition goes to his performance in “Roots,” a majority of the attention goes to “Reading Rainbow,” which Burton not only starred in, but also produced.

Every episode began with the beloved and iconic theme song (“take a look, with a book, Reading Rainboooooooow”) and featured a different children’s picture book, often narrated by a celebrity, which was followed by a segment where a child would give their own book review. All before Burton would sign off with a friendly “I’ll see you next time.” It was a wholesome, heartwarming staple for bookworms for 23 years.

But when the show got canceled in 2006, that was not “Reading Rainbow”’s final chapter. Through his company RRKidz, Burton began a Kickstarter campaign called “Bring Reading Rainbow Back” in order to launch the show as a new app. The app promised to bring classrooms free access to a library of interactive books and video field trips. The campaign was a massive success, and the goal amount of $1 million was reached within only 24 hours, according to NPR, making it the most widely supported Kickstarter campaign ever.

A video of Burton’s beautiful, tearful reaction to the good news can be seen below. If there’s any doubt as to the genuine passion this man has for this project, this is a must-watch.

Despite the campaign's success, it did stir up some less than positive aftermath. WNED filed a lawsuit against Burton and RRKidz over contract and trademark violations. But still, the conflicts seem more or less resolved with some rebranding on Burton’s part. And no matter what, I think we can all agree that he will always be the heart and soul of the show.

It seems very fitting that a man who brought so much innovation to children’s programming will be receiving his award during a brand new ceremony. After all, Burton brought us many “firsts.” The Children and Family Emmy Awards will take place in Los Angeles on Dec 11th, and Burton will be taking home his prize then.

Though Butron seemed surprised by the news (posting a simple “Whoa” to Twitter), he has touched so many lives that it seems like a no-brainer.

I just hope he has room left on his trophy shelf. As long as it doesn’t take the place of a book!

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

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More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via YouTube

This article originally appeared on 02.15.22


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