Some people say that while change is inevitable, progress is a choice. In other words, it’s a purposeful act—like when American media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner established the United Nations Foundation 25 years ago.
Turner recognized that the United Nations is indispensable to tackling humanity’s greatest challenges and driving global progress, and he also knew that solving complex, worldwide problems require a blend of diverse solutions and partners. He’s a pretty smart guy.
As a strategic partner of the United Nations, the UN Foundation seeks to solve the world’s biggest challenges by bringing together different perspectives, fresh thinking, and innovative ideas. Think of it as a massive table, where the best and the brightest from all over the world are invited to bring new and creative ideas to solve complex problems affecting humanity. That’s the UN Foundation, and it’s awesome.
Honorees, speakers and guests on stage at We the PeoplesPhoto: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation
Every year, the organization recognizes extraordinary individuals and institutions whose work stands out as an embodiment of their guiding principles: to create a safer, healthier, and fairer world for all. This year’s annual Global Leadership Awards were presented at We the Peoples in New York City’s Gotham Hall, where five recipients were honored for their tireless work to push progress forward.
Here are the change-makers who accepted the awards, which celebrate the very best of humanity.
Mia Amor Mottley, 2022 Champion for Global Change award. Not only is she the first female to hold the position of Prime Minister of Barbados, she exhibits top-notch leadership in her fight for global change. She is known for fearlessly urging the leaders of larger, richer, and more powerful countries to recognize their contributions to climate change and their responsibility to help combat its disastrous effects—especially in smaller island nations. (She also encourages leaders to have “mature conversations” with their constituents, something we can all agree is woefully lacking across the board!)
Hon. Mia Mottley, SC, MP, Prime Minister of BarbadosPhoto: Stuart Ramson for United Nations Foundation
Prime Minister Mottley takes stewardship of the environment very seriously. The island of Barbados is on the frontline of climate change impacts, which manifest in everything from more devastating hurricanes, to coastal erosion, and are getting worsefrom year to year. Not only that, she’s tackling social justice reform, lack of education access, and political corruption, one step at a time. “There are so many who are voiceless and so many who are incapable of action, but if those of us who have the capacity can make that difference in their lives, then the world would be a better place,” said Prime Minister Mottley. Seriously.
Forest Whitaker, SDG Vanguard Award: While Whitaker is best known for his acting roles, he is also Founder & CEO of Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative, a project aiming to promote the values of peace within communities all over the world that are impacted by conflict and violence. His work has touched the lives of approximately 1.3 million children—including former child soldiers—helping them cope with trauma and learn to thrive in their communities. The goal is to move people from chaos to hope and engagement by educating, training, and restoring peace.
Hans Vestberg, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Verizon and UN Foundation Board member, presents the SDG Vanguard Award to Khadija Mayman, Youth PeacemakerPhoto: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation
Whitaker staunchly values the potential of youth, insisting they deserve a seat at the table. He believes that in order to attain peace and prosperity, communities and nations must heed the voices of their young people; keeping them engaged is what preserves our future. “We must realize that whatever challenge we are faced with, young people can and should be part of the solution – both for today and tomorrow,” he said.
Whitaker walks the walk— and it showed when the spotlight was put on Khadija Mayman, Youth Peacemaker for the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative, who accepted the award on his behalf. What better way to change the world, than to start by healing our children and letting them lead?
Mia Kami, SDG Vanguard Award: Kami is a Tongan singer/songwriter. She is passionate about gender equality, indigenous rights, and climate action, reminding us that storytelling has the power to fuel political and environmental change. She channels her passions into songwriting and uses her music to inspire hope and healing.
In 2022, a devastating volcanic eruption created a massive humanitarian crisis in her home country of Tonga. The volcano generated a plume of ash that rose more than 12 miles above sea level; the next day, there was a larger, more violent eruption that created an ash plume 375 miles in diameter. This second explosive eruption produced a tsunami that affected the entire Pacific Ocean, and atmospheric pressure waves that circled Earth several times. After the eruption, satellite images show that 90% of the island is no longer visible. Kami drew attention to the crisis through song. In one of her most popular works, Rooted, she sings:
There is hope
There is strength
There is power
There is change
In you and I
Singer-songwriter Mia Kami performs at We The Peoples 2022Photo: Stuart Ramson for United Nations Foundation
Kami’s ability to bridge art and action to protect the world's oceans draws attention to issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, marking her as an extraordinary, creative change-maker.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), presented with the 2022 UN Heroes Award: Dr. Natalia Kanem, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNFPA, accepted the Award on behalf of the organization.
Dr. Natalia Kanem, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNFPA, accepts the 2022 UN Heroes Award, presented by Mark Malloch-Brown, President of Open Society Foundations and UN Foundation Board member at We the PeoplesPhoto: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation
Founded in 1969 by concerned American citizens, this institution is the lead United Nations sexual and reproductive health and rights agency. They are there for mothers, pregnant women, and girls around the world, no matter what, and their work encompasses everything from educating women on family planning to working to end child marriage and gender-based violence—especially in times of war.
UNFPA delivers lifesaving care in places in crises so that girls and women can manage their periods, have healthy pregnancies, and deliver their babies safely. They recognize that when individuals are deprived of the right to make crucial choices about their own bodies and futures, it has a cascading impact on their families’ welfare and future generations.
Unsurprisingly, courage is one of their four core values; they pride themselves on saying and doing what’s right, not what’s easy, all the time. That is a purposeful act of progress for certain.
Peace on Purpose/lululemon. This year, the inaugural Goal 17 Innovation in Partnership Award was presented to recognize creative, cross-sector partnerships that are driving progress forward. Most of us associate the brand name lululemon with leggings, but it turns out that they do much more than sell athletic wear. Peace on Purpose is a collaborative effort between lululemon and the UN Foundation to provide tools, such as mindfulness training, for humanitarian workers to care for their mental and physical well-being so they can effectively care for others. Support people need support people, after all!
From left to right: Baroness Valerie Amos, Master, University College Oxford and Vice Chair, UN Foundation Board of Directors; Esther Speck, Senior Vice President of Sustainable Business & Impact at lululemon; Nikki Neuburger, Chief Brand Officer, lululemon.Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation
The award was accepted by two of lululemon's leaders: Esther Speck, Senior Vice President of Sustainable Business & Impact, and Nikki Neuburger, Chief Brand Officer. Speck is widely respected among her colleagues as one of the most result-oriented professionals in sustainability. She managed to bridge lululemon and the UN Foundation seamlessly by recognizing that lululemon focuses on offering their customers a path to wellbeing, which entails supporting humanitarian and sustainable causes.
Esther Speck, Senior Vice President Sustainable Business & Impact at lululemon and Nikki Neuburger, Chief Brand Officer, lululemon.Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation
Neuburger is responsible for lululemon's ability to share compelling stories from their team of 2,000 global ambassadors. "We really lean into highlighting those ambassadors," said Neuburger in an interview with Ad Age, "lifting them up not only in terms of what they are doing with us, but also what they've got going on in their own communities."
The results are undeniable: over 8,000 UN workers from 137 countries have been reached through in-person and digital mental health and well-being programs! Research shows that the Peace on Purpose initiative has so far led to a 40% reduction of important psychological risk factors such as anxiety and depression, and an increase in overall well-being and resilience.
It’s a dynamic table of visionaries, that’s for sure—and the world is better because of them. As Elizabeth Cousens, President and CEO of the UN Foundation stated at the ceremony, “A few years ago, Ted [Turner] said: ‘The world is facing some tough obstacles, but I’ve never found much use in giving up. It’s much more effective to get to work.’ Well, at the UN Foundation, we believe in getting to work. We believe that allies and partners make us stronger. We believe that progress is worth fighting for, and we know you do too.”If pushing progress forward is a choice, then these change-makers make the right one, every single day. Learn more about these change-makers and the work they are doing here.
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'I’m not naughty, I’m autistic.'
Imagine everything you'd experience while strolling through a mall — the smells, the sights, the things to touch...
Now imagine all of those feelings and sensations times, like, a hundred.
For many people with autism, overstimulation is their reality.
Being over- or undersensitive when processing sensory information (like sights and smells) is common for people on the autism spectrum.
So an everyday thing that many people might not even notice at the mall, like the spraying of a perfume bottle...
Autism and coping with overstimulation.
Photo pulled from YouTube video.
... can be overwhelming for someone with autism.
To Jo Wincup, whose 15-year-old son, Ben, has autism, this reality hits close to home.
“Four years ago, my son had a meltdown in a shopping center after becoming overloaded by the crowds, bright lights, and smells. He started kicking me, shouting, and swearing. We tried to get him outside to help him calm down, but the people [lining up] for buses just stared, some even said really hurtful things. This upset Ben even more. He ran off into the bushes and refused to come out. I just wanted to cry, for the ground to swallow us up."
The National Autistic Society is hoping to give viewers a peek into this reality with a new and gripping PSA.
Seen through the eyes of a boy with autism, the video by the U.K.-based group takes viewers through a shopping center, allowing them to experience what living on the spectrum can feel like.
After he's overwhelmed by his surroundings and struggling with his mother (as onlookers gape at what appears to be a child acting out), the boy explains to viewers: "I’m not naughty, I’m autistic."
How can we understand what autism feels like?
Video pulled from YouTube video.
It's important that we all understand what autism can feel like so that we can build a more empathetic world.
Although a large majority of people have heard of autism, a very small number of people actually understand how living on the spectrum can affect behavior. Many kids aren't necessarily naughty; they're dealing with a condition most of us can't experience firsthand.
A new report from the National Autistic Society found that 87% of families say people stare at their child who has autism, and 84% of people on the spectrum say others perceive them as "strange." Unfortunately, this contributes to the reason why nearly 8 in 10 folks with autism report feeling socially isolated.
"It isn’t that the public sets out to be judgmental towards autistic people," Mark Lever, chief executive of the organization, said in a statement, noting the research provided "shocking" results.
"They tell us that they want to be understanding but often just don’t ‘see’ the autism. They see a ‘strange’ man pacing back and forth in a shopping center, or a ‘naughty’ girl having a tantrum on a bus, and don’t know how to respond."
It doesn't have to be this way, though.
The more we all understand autism, the more people on the spectrum can feel OK about being themselves.
“Autism is complex and autistic people and their families don’t expect or want people to be experts," Lever explained. But a "basic understanding could transform lives."
Watch The National Autistic Society's PSA below:
Innovation is awesome, right? I mean, it gave us the internet!
However, there is always a price to pay for modernization, and in this case, it’s in the form of digital eye strain, a group of vision problems that can pop up after as little as two hours of looking at a screen. Some of the symptoms are tired and/or dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and neck and shoulder pain1. Ouch!
Eye strain from staring at devices is a widespread issue. Most people work, play, and maintain relationships through screens, which averages out to 6 hours and 35 minutes per day (and that’s in addition to work or school)! That translates to 46 hours and 5 minutes per week, or 2,402 hours and 55 minutes per year.2
With numbers like these, attention to eye health is more important now than ever; our dependence on technology certainly isn’t going anywhere. And just like innovation brought us technology, innovation also holds the key to combating the effects it has on our bodies. Here are some key suggestions from eye care professionals to help reduce common symptoms of digital eye strain. Spoiler alert: none of them involve wearing glasses!
Follow the 20-20-20 rule.
You can find some relief by taking a 20-20-20 break: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. It’s easy to remember because we all want 20/20 vision, and it’s a good excuse to look out the window.
Adjust your workspace screen to be slightly below eye level and about an arm’s length away.
This simple tweak to your work area can really improve your posture, as well as the amount of strain on your eyes. A win-win!
Adjust the brightness of your device.
Brightness levels also play into how hard our eyes have to work. Our screen brightness should match our surroundings, especially during the evening hours.
Say hello to Biofinity Energys® contact lenses!
These contact lenses are specifically made to address eye dryness and tiredness caused by digital devices. Digital Zone Optics® lens design and Aquaform® Technology are two innovations that when combined help with the tiredness and dryness that can be caused by digital eye fatigue.
Additionally, Biofinity Energys® monthly replacement contact lenses are designed to help our eyes better adapt for a more comfortable wearing experience3. This part is tricky because contacts can be hard to adjust to, and trust me—no one wants what feels like gritty sandpaper in there. Comfort is key!
If you’re sick of wearing glasses all the time and feel ready to do something new, visit biofinityenergys.com to learn more and to get your free trial certificate.
- Asurion-sponsored survey by Market Research Firm Solidea Solutions conducted August 18-20, 2019 of 1,998 U.S. smartphone users, compared to an Asurion-sponsored survey conducted by market research company OnePoll between Sept. 11 – 19, 2017 of 2000 U.S. adults with a smartphone.
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'Needle in a haystack doesn't come close to what we were looking for.'
A story out of Hopewell, Texas, is about finding a ray of light in a very dark time. NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reports that on Friday, November 4, a tornado destroyed the home of Dakota Hudson and his girlfriend, Lauren Patterson. The couple rode it out in the bathroom and when they emerged from hiding, their home was destroyed.
After checking in on their neighbors, Hudson realized that the engagement ring he bought for Patterson was lost among the debris. “Needle in a haystack doesn’t come close to what we were looking for,” Hudson said.
A Paris Junior League softball team stopped by the property to see if Hudson and Patterson needed help with the cleanup. Hudson asked the team to please help him find the ring.
“When you tell 20 girls someone is going to get engaged if they find a ring, they are going to find it,” Hudson said. Outfielder Kate Rainey miraculously found the ring, stuck in the mud, seven feet from where it was hidden in the house by Hudson.
“I was just kind of digging through the mud in this certain particular spot, and I kept digging there,” Rainey said according to KXII. “I don’t know why I felt led to dig right there, and I found a little piece of a metal circle, and it was not metal. It was gold. I didn’t believe it.”
Hudson celebrated the incredible moment by spontaneously dropping to one knee and proposing. Patterson said yes.
“We’re safe. We’re here. Everybody’s alright. It’s a miracle the ring was found. What better time to do it?” Hudson said.
Justin Baldoni exemplified patient parenting when his daughter started. having a meltdown at the store.
This article originally appeared on 06.23.17
Young kids don't always pick the best times to have emotional meltdowns.
Just ask any parent.
Grocery stores, malls, and restaurants (or any place with lots of people around) in particular seem to bring out the worst in our little ones, prompting explosive tantrums that can make even the most stoic parent turn red-faced with embarrassment.
But why be embarrassed? It's just kids being kids, after all.
Actor Justin Baldoni recently shared a poignant photo with his own daughter and the big lesson he learned from his dad about such moments.
Baldoni, best known for his role on the show "Jane the Virgin," shared a photo his wife, Emily, took while the family was shopping at the local Whole Foods.
In it, Baldoni, along with his father, stares down at his daughter, Maiya. She's crying and/or wailing on the floor. Who knows about what. Her body is twisted into classic tantrum pose.
The two men look calm. Almost amused, but not in a mocking way.
They certainly are not embarrassed despite a horde of people around them in the store.
When Baldoni posted the photo to his Facebook, he recalled the way his father used to act during the actor's own tantrums, and how it helped shape him into the man he is today.
I tried to stay off social media yesterday to connect with my family without distraction so I'm posting this today....
Posted by Justin Baldoni on Monday, June 19, 2017
"My dad always let me feel what I needed to feel, even if it was in public and embarrassing," he wrote.
The post continued:
"I don't remember him ever saying 'You're embarrassing me!' or 'Dont cry!' It wasn't until recently that I realized how paramount that was for my own emotional development. Our children are learning and processing so much information and they don't know what to do with all of these new feelings that come up. I try to remember to make sure my daughter knows it's OK that she feels deeply. It's not embarrassing to me when she throw tantrums in the grocery store, or screams on a plane. I'm her dad…not yours.
Let's not be embarrassed for our children. It doesn't reflect on you. In fact.. we should probably be a little more kind and patient with ourselves too. If we got out everything we were feeling and allowed ourselves to throw tantrums and cry when we felt the need to then maybe we'd could also let ourselves feel more joy and happiness. And that is something this world could definitely use a little more of."
The photo, which Baldoni calls one of his favorites ever, shows the advice in action.
There's a lot of pressure out there on both men and women to be the perfect parents at all times.
But being the perfect parent doesn't mean your kid never gets angry or frustrated or confused. As Baldoni writes, toddlers are really just beginning to learn and explore the world's boundaries. There's naturally going to be a lot of swirling emotions as they encounter things and situations they can't understand.
What's important is we don't teach them to hide those feelings or push them down for fear of ridicule — that kind of emotion-management can come back to haunt us as adults. Working through our feelings, or just having a good cry right there in the middle of the grocery store, is an important skill to learn.
The emotional health of our children is certainly worth a few weird stares from people we'll never seen again.
It's even more involved than it appears.
We know that there’s a painstaking amount of detail that goes into bringing characters to life on the big and small screen. But ever so often, a fascinating look behind the scenes will come along that’s so mind-blowing, one can’t help but feel a fresh level of gratitude (and awe) for the effort that goes into modern-day storytelling.
Take, for instance, the hyperrealistic wigs we see in so many films and television shows. Odds are, one of your favorite characters wears one—even when you would bet your life savings that the hairs you see are sprouting from their own head. This illusion is the result of dedicated hours upon hours from artists that are so much at the top of their game, we might as well just call them hair sorcerers.
In a video posted to YouTube by Insider, Rob Pickens, founder of Wigmaker Associates, takes viewers on a tour of the wigmaking process for some of today’s most iconic shows, from start to finish. As Pickens explains, since cameras have become more equipped to pick up every detail, wigs must become more detailed and precise to not only mimic real hair texture, but perfectly fit an actor’s head shape to look as natural as possible.
To do this, hair teams don’t just measure an actor’s head. They create a mold that completely replicates their skull shape using a headwrap made with cellophane and tape—lots of it—after which they trace over the hairline with a sharpie.
Millie Bobbie Brown's skull mold.
That headwrap then goes onto a canvas block (which more or less looks like a mannequin head), and that canvas block is filled with stuffing to match the actor’s exact head shape in a process that Pickens calls “padding the block.”
It might be a laborious endeavor, but once it’s done, that mold can be used for any production in the world. Cranium cloning, if you will.
Next, wigmakers must create a layer of superfine lace that will serve as the piece’s foundation. For very short hair styles, a silk base is used to create the look of skin that might be visible under the hair’s surface. This technique was used for later seasons of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” to create Eleven’s signature buzz cut, when actress Millie Bobby Brown couldn’t shave her head.
Millie Bobby Brown on "Stranger Things."
When actors are portraying real people with different skull shapes and hair lines, the hair team must add an extra step of creating prosthetic pieces to go under the wig’s foundation. In Hulu’s “Pam & Tommy,” for example, a prosthetic forehead was given to actress Lily James to replicate Pamela Anderson's characteristic high forehead.
The next step is the ventilating process, where each hair is stitched into the lace one by one using a variety of knotting techniques. The key here is to match an actor’s natural hair patterns, like which direction the hair at their temples prefers to go, while keeping it malleable enough to part anywhere, just like you can with real hair.
As for the hair itself, the choices come down to either real human hair or synthetic. Synthetic hair, which is more durable but has more of a light-reflecting sheen, is usually used for background actors. But for “hero wigs” that must pass the close-up test, real human hair is required.
Pickens might even add mohair (a durable, resistant hair fiber made from angora goats) to hairlines to mimic baby hairs, which he did for Ana De Armas for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in Andrew Dominik’s “Blonde.”
Wigs might evoke a sense of glamor, but in the world of realistic storytelling, accuracy takes precedence. When tasked with creating an aging and syphilis-ridden Al Capone (played by Tom Hardy), Pickens helped convey the story with hair that was “actually a bit sickly before we texturized it.”
Tom Hardy as Al Capone in "Capone" (2022).
But wait, there’s more. We are now to the coloring process, which, as Pickens puts it, is a blend of “alchemy and color theory and figuring out how that’s going to play on the final product.” Colorists have to understand how a scene might be lit and edited, so that they can make an educated guess as to how to color the hair so it has the desired shade in the final cut, rather than in real life.
“Reds can be quite the nightmare sometimes,” Pickens shared. “If we create a red wig and they put a blue filter over the entire thing, it could look brown.”
And just to make matters more complicated, the looks don’t just get created for the main actors. Anyone performing as a photo double or stunt performer also needs a matching (usually synthetic) wig. Stunt double wigs in particular are tricky, as they need to be durable enough to endure take after take of literally rolling with the punches, yet still be easily removed for when a stunt might go wrong. But also they must look exactly like the hero wig. No big deal, right?
Charlize Theron and her stunt double Monique Ganderton on the set of "Atomic Blonde."
To say that people were floored to learn some of these things would be an understatement. Just check out some of these comments:
“I'm amazed by what they can create to make us believe that their wigs are their real hair because it looks so natural..So many times I've just assumed that the actors must have changed their real hair to look a certain way because it looks too real to be a wig. It was interesting to see what the process looks like.”
“I love learning stuff like this. I never would have thought about how much went into wigs. Unsung masterpieces are everywhere.”
“This is so cool. I honestly had no idea so much detail went into this. I'm impressed.”
More content is being put out now than ever before, causing many shows to have to create costumes and wigs on a mass level (read: faster and cheaper). This undoubtedly leads to a drop in quality that can sometimes take us out of a story—something we covered in a previous article. However, when artists are given the opportunity and resources to really work to their highest potential, magic happens. Kudos to the pros who completely immerse us into a story, strand by strand. Your labor of love is appreciated.
You can watch the full video below, which has even more fascinating info: