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Meet the star athlete getting fellow players to take a stand against sexual assault.

Shocked by the Steubenville assaults, Jerome Baker decided that it's time for athletes to publicly commit to ending gender-based violence.

Meet the star athlete getting fellow players to take a stand against sexual assault.

In December 2012, when the sexual assaults in Steubenville, Ohio, made national headlines, the impact hit high schooler Jerome Baker close to home.

As a star football player in his hometown of Cleveland — just two hours away from Steubenville — he noticed people started to act differently around him. And not in a good way.


"Not sure if I should back away slowly or run..." GIF via "Futurama."

When he'd tell people that he was a football player (just like the young men who assaulted the young woman in Steubenville), he felt like they immediately saw him as a perpetrator. He didn't like it, and he wanted to do something about it.

And it wasn't just that he wanted to set himself apart. (There's a reason the #NotAllMen meme isn't useful when it comes to conversations about sexism. They derail the conversation by taking the focus off the prejudice the women experience and onto men.) Baker wanted to take responsibility and do something bigger to address the issue of gender-based violence.

What he did is an amazing example of how a single person can spark a meaningful cultural shift to help end sexual violence.

After Baker talked with his neighbor and mentor Tyrone White (lovingly called "Coach Ty" by his students), founder of anti-sexual violence group Whoaman, the two decided to reached out to the top 31 high school football players in the area, asking them to take a public pledge to end violence against women and girls. Part of the invitation read:

"In the pledge we will promise to treat women and girls with respect and speak up if we witness or hear of assaults — to stand as a protector and speak out against perpetrators.

Let's be the voice that prevents assaults like what happened two years ago involving members of Steubenville's football team. Let's use our status as athletes to encourage change and promote behavior that respects women and girls and does not bring harm to them."

Here's the awesome part: Almost all the top players agreed to take the pledge. Better yet, when the day came for the group to take the pledge on camera, Baker was surprised to see that 50 athletes had come to participate.

Just a fraction of the athletes in attendance. Image via Tyrone White/YouTube.

Turns out that they'd heard about it from their friends and decided to join. Baker didn't stop there. He knew that how we talk about women, girls, and sex matters. And as one of the top high school players in the country, he decided to use his platform to influence other male student athletes.

He urged them to speak up when a teammate says something that contributes to a culture of disrespecting women, like slut-shaming or making rape jokes. No easy task in the face of high school machoism and peer pressure. And yet — Baker made an impact. A student from a different high school came to him, discouraged by the taunting he'd get when he spoke out again sexist speech. Baker was able to lift his spirits enough to keep on.

Now a player at Ohio State University, Baker is continuing his anti-violence work on his college campus.

Baker, giving a post-game interview about going to Ohio State. Image via cleveland.com/YouTube.

He recently asked the head coach Urban Meyer to allow team members to take the pledge. While the coach has declined for now (for unknown reasons), Baker's still hopeful for change.

An initiative like this is more important than ever.

A recent survey of college campuses found that over 27% of women and more than 30% of transgender and gender-nonconforming folk reported being sexually assaulted at school. We have a long way to go — and we need to start doing the work before people take a step on campus.

Work like Baker's is part of a winning movement to end sexual violence by attacking it at its roots. It's time to put a stop to rape ... before it happens.

Photo by Richard Potts/Flickr.

Baker's high school had little to no sex or anti-sexual assault education. With 40% of women reporting victimization before the age of 18, Baker's pre-college efforts show how it's better to start anti-rape training sooner rather than later.

Sexual assault is not an individual issue. Almost 47% of rapes and 82% of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows. This is something that communities have to address collectively. That's why Baker's leadership is so important. In the wise words of Coach Ty, that Baker shared in an interview with SB Nation:

"People are going to follow you no matter what. If you're doing the right thing, they're going to follow you. If you're doing the wrong thing, they're going to follow you, too. It's just a matter of which one you want to do."
Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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4 minutes of silence can boost your empathy for others. Watch as refugees try it out.

We could all benefit from breaking down some of the walls in our lives.

Images via Amnesty Poland

This article originally appeared on 05.26.16


You'd be hard-pressed to find a place on Earth with more wall-based symbolism than Berlin, Germany.

But there, in the heart of Germany's capital city, strangers sat across from one another, staring into each other's eyes. To the uninitiated, it may look as though you've witnessed some sort of icy standoff. The truth, however, couldn't be more different.

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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."