Nigeria just got crossed off a list no country wants to be on. It's a huge win for us all.
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In 2012, over half of the world's polio cases were in Nigeria.

But then something amazing happened.

This year, they've had ... zero.

A substantial drop to zero cases of polio in 2015. You do the math. That's incredible.


I know, right? GIF via "Full House."

As the country celebrates going an entire year without a single case of the crippling disease, the entire continent of Africa can too. Nigeria is the last of the African countries to suffer from it. That's huge! And it's huge for all of us — including you.

Think of the progress made: It wasn't that long ago polio was everywhere — including the U.S. — crippling hundreds of thousands of kids a year.

If you grew up in the U.S. in the 1950s, you lived in fear of this horrible disease cutting your healthy childhood short. Even as recently as 1988, polio was a devastating problem in 128 countries.

In 2014, there were three countries that hadn't eliminated polio: Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Go ahead and cross Nigeria off that list.

Maps via CDC.

How in the heck did they manage to get rid of it?

It wasn't magic, and it didn't come easy. Between misinformation, politics, and violence, there have been some major roadblocks in the past years.

It turns out when you have the resources and agree to work together, powerful things can happen — and more kids get a chance at a healthy life.

Kids being kids. Via Jeremy Weate/Flickr.

A recent joint effort between the Nigerian government, community members, religious leaders, and thousands of health workers with an awesome vaccination program helped kick polio to the curb.

Hopefully for good.

Vaccination programs and close monitoring helped make polio disappear in so many countries — and now in Nigeria too. We're on our way to completely eradicating it globally because of them.

But since the disease is contagious and can spread so fast, it'll take two more years of no polio cases in Nigeria for it to be declared completely polio-free. But hey, you gotta start somewhere. Cheers to Nigeria!

Next up: Pakistan and Afghanistan. There is work to be done — but it can be done.

Polio sucks. Image via CDC/Flickr.

There are entire generations of people who have never even had to consider polio.

There are people who have never known anyone with the disease or had to fear it themselves. They might not even understand the damage its caused all over the world — or how it works. (Ask Google or your grandma).

I can't wait until no one in the world has to think about polio anymore.

We're so close to eliminating polio from the earth! And when we do, it'll be one of the greatest achievements in our human history. It's going to be awesome.

It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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