Obama's emotional trip to Kenya is quiet diplomacy in action.
Photo by Tony Karumba/Getty Images.

The legacy of Barack Obama and Kenya will be forever intertwined.

The East African country is the birthplace of Obama's father and the source of a conspiracy theory about Obama's own birthplace that the president has had to spend way too much time refuting.

It's also a place where Obama is making a real impact.


On July 15, Obama stopped by Kogelo, where his sister-in-law Auma Obama opened Sauti Kuu — a youth sports and training center that aims to help children "become self-reliant mentally, socially, and financially."

Photo by Tony Karumba/Getty Images.

Back in 2015, Obama said that returning to Kenya after his presidency might actually be more effective, "because I can actually get outside of a hotel room or a conference center."

And he has a point.

Obama was able to mingle with several of the kids at the Sauti Kuu resource center. But he was also there to help the country heal after a tumultuous, contested election.

He's on a journey that carries a larger message of hope.

It's a big deal any time Obama visits Kenya. And while this visit was described as "low-key," he was also there doing some very important work.

Kenya has been divided over a contested 2017 election. The country's current President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga agreed in March 2018 to work together after months of political fighting.

Obama is meeting with both leaders during his visit to help facilitate a peaceful and lasting political solution.

Though Obama has been mostly quiet about the visit, Kenyatta posted about their visit on Twitter, adding several pictures of the two men meeting.

On July 18, Obama heads to South Africa to mark the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's birth and to meet with 200 African children who are working with the Obama Foundation. Not bad for a low-key trip.

Obama is showing how quiet diplomacy is something we could use more of right now.

President Teddy Roosevelt once famously said of his approach to international diplomacy, "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." What many may not know is Roosevelt actually cited the quote as a West African proverb that he picked up during his travels before becoming president.

In many ways, it also captures Obama's approach to exerting his influence in the world. Instead of lecturing the world, he's helping empower Kenya's youth and offering his support to healing the nation's political divide.

Right now, the world of politics seems to be dominated by those with the loudest voices. But Obama, time and again, shows that the power of diplomacy rooted in respect and trust can indeed help someone go far.

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.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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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."