Meet the teens leading an unprecedented lawsuit against the U.S. government.

Out of all the things teenagers are known to do, suing the U.S. government isn't one of them.

Go ahead and add it to the list.

15-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez and 20 other young people ages 8 to 20 have sued the government for its inaction on climate change — and so far they've been successful. This is, needless to say, unprecedented.


Two of the plaintiffs, Xiuhtezcatl and Victoria, react to the judge's decision.

"Judge Coffin decided our Complaint will move forward and put climate science squarely in front of the federal courts," said the plaintiffs' attorney, Philip Gregory.

The 21 young plaintiffs argue that this case is about their constitutional right to life, liberty, and property and that the government hasknown for decades that carbon dioxide pollution has been causing catastrophic climate change. Even with that knowledge, the government has failed to take action and do something about it to help future generations. In fact, the youths' complaint alleges the government has taken definite actions to make climate change worse.

They are having none of that.

When you hear Xiuhtezcatl talk, you realize it was only a matter of time.

All photos used with permission.

Xiuhtezcatl (pronounced "shu-TEZ-cuht") has been leading a youth movement to save the planet since he was ordering from the kids menu at the age of 6. He has assembled a global army of young people over the years with his organization Earth Guardians (which just keeps growing bigger!) to demand sustainable policy from world leaders. The Colorado-based organization has over 1,800 crews on six continents — and counting, partially thanks to social media.

In 2014, Xiuhtezcatl founded Rising Youth for Sustainable Environment (RYSE), a youth council that helps to plan, train, and execute an agenda to help combat climate change. Between the council's role in this federal lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of them by Our Children’s Trust, and the lawsuits they have on the way in other sates, it's clear they are onto something.

Not only does the lawsuit put pressure on world leaders, but the fossil fuel industry must also take it — and young people — seriously. Boom.

"When those in power stand alongside thevery industries that threaten the future of my generation instead of standing with the people, it is areminder that they are not our leaders," said Xiuhtezcatl. "The real leaders are the twenty youth standing with me in court todemand justice for my generation and justice for all youth."

Earth Guardians at Pittsburgh Power Shift in 2015.

For now, the plaintiffs have only been granted permission to argue the case in federal court. But hey, you have to start somewhere.

"Never before in the history of our laws have we seen a coordinated set of legal actions on this scale," said University of Oregon law professor Mary Wood.

It's inspiring to see these young people stand up for their generation and those that will follow. But when you talk to Xiuhtezcatl, you're reminded that they've been forced into this situation. Leaders have failed to act on climate change, so it's up to them to do something about it.

As he puts it, "We are the ones we've been waiting for."

So they'll do it themselves.

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.

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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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."