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.
This article originally appeared on 08.20.15
You've probably been there. You're out and about and you see something that just feels ... off.
"Should I step in? ... But it's not really any of my business. ... And I'm not even sure they need my help..."
Our gut tells us to speak up, to ask questions, to tell someone. But often, we don't.
This happened to Malyk Bonnet, a 17-year-old from Montreal, on Aug. 1, 2015. But instead of ignoring his instincts, he acted brilliantly. It may have saved a woman's life.
Photo via CBC News.
He'd been waiting for the bus after a shift at the restaurant where he works when he saw a man and woman arguing. He sensed a red flag.
"The guy was screaming at her, the girl," Bonnet told CBC News. "He wasn't really gentle with her, and I started watching, because I thought he would hit her, so I approached them a little bit."
The pair asked Bonnet if he could lend them bus fares to nearby Laval, a city about 25 miles away from downtown Montreal.
Bonnet felt uneasy about what was happening. But instead of declining, he decided to get more involved. He helped the man and woman with their fares and told them he was also traveling to Laval (which was not the case).
"My plan was to keep them in a public place where he wouldn't hurt her," Bonnet told Dateline NBC. "I decided to be friendly with the man and have him think I was his friend. I played my game and he seemed to trust me."
After arriving in Laval, Bonnet suggested they grab a bite to eat. At the restaurant, he gave the pair $50 for food and excused himself to use the restroom. Finally having the opportunity, he called the police and told them "someone had been kidnapped." Officers arrived minutes later.
What Bonnet hadn't known at the time was that police were already looking for the perpetrator and his victim.
"We were looking for a 29-year-old woman who was kidnapped by her former boyfriend earlier that day," Laval police Lt. Daniel Guérin told CBC News. "We believed that man was very dangerous."
Previously, the abuser spent time behind bars for assaulting his ex and sending her death threats.
Bonnet told Dateline NBC that while he didn't speak with the woman after police arrived, he could see how relieved she was. "We made eye contact and she had tears in her eyes. She was really happy."
While this particular story unfolded in Canada — where roughly half of women have experienced at least one incident of sexual or physical violence since the age of 16 — you'll find similarly alarming statistics in the U.S.
Photo via Thinkstock.
Although it may seem easy to simply leave an abusive relationship in the dust, take it from some women who've been there — it's much more difficult than it seems from the outside looking in.
Instead of passing judgment, you can learn more about how you can help friends and family members who may be experiencing domestic abuse.
"His quick actions may have saved this young woman's life," Guérin said. The officers made sure to collect money so Bonnet could be reimbursed for the bus fares and food he purchased while trying to save the victim. "He now has 500 new friends in our department."
Thank you, Malyk, for reminding me that sometimes the bravest thing I can do is simply listen to that voice when it's trying to get my attention.
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.
'You have to stay … Mr. Chicken Man!'
Being an Amazon delivery driver is no easy task. You have to deliver the packages on time, to the right address while keeping them away from porch pirates. But a driver in the southern Chicago suburbs really had his work cut out for him when he unexpectedly had to deal with a wandering chicken.
The driver opened a garage to deliver a package when a chicken named Fancy started walking through the door. He dropped off the package and then placed the chicken safely back in the garage. But it wasn’t going to be that easy.
The driver had to pick up the chicken and place it in the garage three times before he knew it would be safe and he could leave.
The video was caught on a Ring camera in the garage by the chicken’s owners. They told ViralHog that Fancy “loves human interaction” and was living in the garage because she was injured and needed to be kept away from the other chickens. “So she is very used to people coming in and out,” the homeowner told ViralHog.
Some people may be wondering how the homeowners were able to get their packages delivered to their garages. Amazon Prime members with compatible smart garages can set up Amazon Key In-Garage Delivery where their packages and groceries are delivered into their garages free of charge. In-Garage Delivery is a great way to beat porch pirates. But, for extra protection, there’s nothing wrong with having a security chicken on duty, too.
Justin Baldoni exemplified patient parenting when his daughter started. having a meltdown at the store.
This article originally appeared on 06.23.17
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.
A gift that will last for a lifetime.
Sometimes you meet a friend that becomes the second part of your name. You know the friend. The Ethel to your Lucy or the Sookie to your Lorelai. You go together like all of the cliche things that complement each other. A duo in California now have more things to add to their close relationship, their kidneys.
Chris Morales and Debbie Thompson have done everything together since they were teens, even moving into their first apartment together at 18. It shouldn't be surprising, then, that when Thompson found out in 2015 that Morales needed a kidney, she immediately offered it to her.
The twist came several years later when Morales' husband, Ron, also found himself in need of a new kidney. That's when Debbie's husband Brad stepped up to be a donor for his friend. Ron told Good Morning America, "He called me up on the phone and was like, 'Hey I hear you need some extra body parts.'"
Brad did have a couple of stipulations, "I said you can't call it little Brad. You can't bring me flowers every year on the anniversary like Chris does," he told GMA. Amazingly both Thompsons were a match, though Ron had to receive multiple blood transfusions before the transplant to decrease the likelihood of rejection due to the men having different blood types.
The two couples now share four kidneys between them and have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. It's the gift of friendship that will last a lifetime. Watch the interview below: