New Jersey just became the first state to include mandatory climate change classes in schools
Photo by William Bossen on Unsplash

It's not an easy time for people to feel hopeful—especially when you consider the constant problem that's facing America right now with climate change and our government's lagging efforts for improvement. It's extremely important to understand why our planet is warming and what we can do to mitigate it.

Teen activists like Greta Thunberg are in the forefront of change and encouraging others to spread awareness and education. We can all take a deep breath for a moment, though. There is some hope after all. Climate change education is coming to New Jersey class rooms in September 2021. It's the first state in the U.S. to announce a new initiative that will incorporate climate change education into its curriculum. According to NJ.com, the plans will include teaching students about climate change, how it works and how it impacts society.

First Lady Tammy Murphy, who's spearheading the curriculum, said the New Jersey Board of Education will soon mandate lessons on climate change for all K-12 public school students. The lessons will be incorporated across different areas of contents including 21st Century Life and Careers, Comprehensive Health and Physical Education, Science, Social Studies, Technology, Visual and Performing Arts and World Languages. She mentions that students will also use art and creativity to address universal themes in climate change.

Teaching all New Jersey public school students about climate change is vital, which First Lady Murphy conveyed further. The Garden State has already experienced high sea level rise on the Jersey Shore and lake areas, as well as harmful algal blooms and extreme heat spikes in the state.

Photo by Chermel Porter on Unsplash

"Decades of short-sighted decision-making has fueled this crisis and now we must do all we can to help our children solve it," she said. "This generation of students will feel the effects of climate change more than any other, and it is critical that every student is provided an opportunity to study and understand the climate crisis through a comprehensive, interdisciplinary lens."

Former Vice President Al Gore, a supporter of Murphy's environmental initiative, praised New Jersey on the new standards. Last year, he compared the fight against climate change to 9/11 and pivotal World War II struggles like the Battle of Midway and Bulge. In a statement recently, he noted he was "incredibly proud" of climate change being taught in schools and believes that future generations will be greatly impacted. After all, children are the leaders of tomorrow. He continued, saying, "We will need leaders who are not only well educated about the effects of climate change, but leaders who can craft solutions for climate change and implement those solutions."

Hopefully other states will follow suit and we can further our education and activism to make this planet a better place. But, of course, the first step is knowledge. The best way to put this is what former President Barack Obama said in the State of the Union in 2014: "The shift to a cleaner energy economy won't happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children's children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy. I want us to be able to say yes, we did."

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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.

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Images via Canva and Unsplash

If there's one thing that everyone can agree on, it's that being in a pandemic sucks.

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Much has been made of the mental health impact of the pandemic, which is a good thing. We need to have more open conversations about mental health in general, and with everything so upside down, it's more important now than ever. However, it feels like pandemic mental health conversations have been dominated by people who want to justify anti-lockdown arguments. "We can't let the cure be worse than the disease," people say. Kids' mental health is cited as a reason to open schools, the mental health challenges of financial despair as a reason to keep businesses open, and the mental health impact of social isolation as a reason to ditch social distancing measures.

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True

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.

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via Budweiser

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