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Meet the father-son duo sharing their disability experiences through art.

Therapy or self-expression? This new art show is both.

Meet the father-son duo sharing their disability experiences through art.

Anthony Ptak and his 8-year-old son, Aedan, might seem like an average dad and son.

Meet the Ptaks: Anthony, Aedan, and Jordana. All photos provided by Anthony and used with permission.


But they're more than that — they're also survivors. Anthony is a brain cancer survivor and Aedan has Down syndrome.

They're also artists, having recently launched an inspiring art exhibit together titled "Difference Frequencies," on display through Nov. 28, 2015, at The Creative Center in New York City.

Their show, "Difference Frequencies," is inspired by Anthony and Aedan's experience as father and son living with disability.

A difference frequency occurs when two inaudible sound frequencies are played together, creating a third audible frequency.

Their art show combines Aedan's art (bottom row) with Anthony's (top row).

So while their show is about art, it's also about the deep power of the human connection to create something else entirely beyond themselves.

Anthony was introduced to art as therapy at The Creative Center during his treatment for brain cancer in 2010.

Aedan lays with his dad, Anthony, as Anthony recovers from brain cancer.

When treatment ended, Anthony wasn't willing to walk away from The Creative Center. So he enrolled in their free art classes, which provided him with the opportunity to dabble in everything from creative writing to photography to jewelry, songwriting, and more.

For Aedan, who has limited expressive language, drawing is a form of sense-making.

It allows him to understand his place in the world and the space around him. Both Anthony and his wife, Jordana, suspect Aedan's drawing is both calming and exciting, interesting, and provocative for him.

When Aedan draws, he seems highly aware of the borders of the page. This sparked Anthony's original idea for the "Difference Frequencies" show: Aedan's drawings overlaid on Anthony's prints. But as Anthony said, "Aedan has too much respect for my work to draw on it."

Instead, they decided to produce a set of pieces together.

Anthony, a jazz musician prior to his brain cancer diagnosis, wrote music for the show in real-time interpretation. Each of Anthony's pieces in the show lasts approximately 60 seconds, and each measure lasts roughly six seconds, conceptually representing the expression of a chromosome.

The 21st measure is Anthony's representation of his son's diagnosis. Down syndrome, known by geneticists as trisomy 21, is a genetic disorder caused by three copies of the 21st chromosome.

Aedan's pieces are also very complex.

Society often refers to children with Down syndrome as angels. And Aedan is absolutely beautiful, with almond eyes and soft features.

But through his elaborate, frequently aggressive pieces, Aedan also gives you the opportunity to glimpse who he truly is: a complex person with complex feelings and desires.

Ask anyone in attendance and they'll tell you Aedan and Anthony have truly created songs in the key of life.

“My goals as an artist are to promote acceptance of difference and to design a society which allows for empathy and degrees of freedom despite the constraints we may find ourselves challenged by — whether genetically encoded, or otherwise acquired, in the complexities of our society." — Anthony

And he's done just that. What many may normally interpret as the scribblings of a child show something much more profound when viewed in conjunction with Anthony's art. It's a beautiful difference frequency indeed.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.