32 years ago, Sue Hipple gave birth to her third child, Timothy. It seemed that everything was exactly as it should be.

"A quick, easy delivery — half an hour and he was there!" Sue told Upworthy.

While he was smaller than her other two children had been when they were born and his lips were a little blue, the doctors assured Sue and her husband that Timothy was just fine.


Photo provided by Sue Hipple, used with permission.

It wasn't until the next morning — which just so happened to be Father's Day — that another doctor realized something was amiss.

Timothy was immediately flown to another hospital with more resources and specialists. There, a pediatric cardiologist listened to Timothy's heart.

"He didn't think Timothy would still be alive by the time my husband got there," Sue said.

But Timothy did make it through the day. And by the time he was 10 days old, his tiny body had undergone two heart surgeries for what doctors had believed was a single heart defect.

It turned out, however, that Timothy had four separate heart defects.

"The nurses called him a little fighter," Sue said. So for his one-month birthday, Sue knitted itty-bitty boxing gloves and made trunks for little Timothy.

"I always tell people babies have an amazing will to live," she said.

The little fighter, wearing his boxing gloves and trunks. Photo shared by Sue Hipple, used with permission.

Timothy's will was strong. He was transferred to a third hospital, where he continued to fight as doctors did their best. Unfortunately, Timothy passed away at 9.5 weeks old during a major open-heart surgery.

Sue reflects on her time with Timothy fondly, despite how difficult it must have been:

"He was an amazing little kid. He had a personality and we got to know him and there were all the ups and downs encapsulated in that summer that you have in raising any child — a little more dramatic, though. We had a lot of joy and laughter, as well as tears and sorrow, and we grew a lot in our faith. [We] learned a lot about unconditional love and putting people ahead of things. It shaped our family."

33 years later, Sue looks back on Timothy's brief time on Earth with a full heart.

She points out how far medical science has come in that time: "Today, things are so advanced, maybe he would have lived."

Sue and Timothy just three days after he was born. Photo provided by Sue Hipple, used with permission.

She also knows how much Timothy's life meant. "Even in our sorrow and sadness 33 years ago, we can look back now and see that his life mattered," Sue said. "He has effected change, and his legacy still continues."

To honor Timothy's memory, Sue joined an initiative by the American Heart Association to knit red caps for newborn babies.

The Little Hearts, Big Hats project is a way to spread awareness about congenital heart defects, which are the most common type of birth defect in the United States. Last February, babies born in hospitals around the country were given tiny red caps, all knitted by volunteers like Sue Hipple.

Photo provided by the American Heart Association, used with permission.

"Last year, volunteers from all 50 states and six countries ... knitted more than 15,000 hats for Chicago’s Little Hats, Big Hearts project," Corey Rangle, director of communications for the American Heart Association, told Upworthy. The hats were distributed to hospitals in three different states.

Photo provided by the American Heart Association, used with permission.

The response was incredibly positive. This year, there are even more volunteers, and the hats will be delivered to over 260 hospitals in 33 states (and counting).

Sue joined the project again this year. She even customizes her hats with a special heart and tag to memorialize Timothy.

Photo provided by Sue Hipple, used with permission.

Sue's plan is to knit 33 hats in honor of Timothy — he would have been 33 this year.

Not only are these hats raising awareness (and funds) for congenital heart defects, but they're spreading a lot of smiles because ... cute, squishy newborns in tiny red hats!

All photos of painfully cute babies in red hats provided by the American Heart Association, used with permission.

While I could look at these adorable babies all day, it's important to remember why they're wearing those cute red hats.

Sadly, congenital heart defects continue to affect babies at a high rate — over 35,000 American babies born each year will have one.

And, second only to the federal government, the American Heart Association is the largest funder of pediatric heart research. If you'd like to help, you can check out the Little Hats, Big Hearts page.

Unfortunately, Timothy's story didn't have a happy ending. But because of awareness, research, and fundraising, many more babies born with heart defects today have a chance at a healthy life!

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

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How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

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