Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.
Elaine Hamel founded Girls at Work, Inc. in 2000 because to her, empowerment isn't just a buzzword but a way of life. Their mission is to challenge traditional norms and normalize girl power, focusing specifically on uplifting and supporting inner city girls between the ages of 8 and 18, who need stability, safety, and confidence.
The girls attending summer camps or after-school programs work in groups and learn how to problem solve, communicate, and use tools to build something practical. Hamel believes that learning how to use power tools shows the girls that they can do anything they put their minds to, better preparing them for a bright future.
Photo courtesy of TD Bank
Elaine's forward-thinking, positive leadership, and passion for the community is exactly why TD Bank chose to honor her for the 2022 #TDThanksYou campaign, a North American campaign demonstrating the bank’s gratitude and commitment to their customers by celebrating, recognizing, and thanking unsung heroes in exciting and meaningful ways. Hamel is one of six honorees recognized this year and was presented with power tools and gift certificates to purchase additional items needed to enhance the program.
Hamel understands what it feels like to hear the word “can’t.” Growing up, she struggled to find her place in a world that seemed to be built by, and for, men. As a kid she loved to “create or fix things” and always found something to tinker with. Before long, she discovered not only did she enjoy building and repairing things, but she was very good at it.
She spent the next several decades breaking down the multitude of barriers that a woman pursuing a career as a general contractor faced in the 1980s and 1990s.
“It was really brutal when I first started out in construction,” Hamel said. “The men were so cruel. But I grew up with five brothers and I was used to it. I told myself I’d be the boss one day…and now I am.”
Photo courtesy of TD Bank
The process of learning how to become stronger and more confident in her natural abilities sent her career soaring, and drives her life’s work—empowering girls to take up space and take control of their own lives.
“These are kids who grapple with neglect, food insecurity, and extreme poverty,” said Hamel. “They’re not soaring in school because they’re in survival mode. They’re hungry and unable to focus and learn.” Hamel’s solution is a fully stocked food pantry, where the girls can shop for groceries before heading home. Girls at Work, Inc. also has a “kindness closet,” stocked with clothing, shoes, outerwear and other items.
After addressing their immediate needs, the girls are ready to get to work. “There are many programs out there devoted to teaching trades and skills to girls,” said Hamel, “But this is about learning how to think critically and problem solve. Pushing through that is what actually empowers them.”
Photo courtesy of Girls at Work
The nonprofit is a vital part of the community, relying heavily on donations and volunteers to keep it going. For example, a club of retired men volunteer their time to pre-cut the lumber for Girls at Work, Inc.'s projects. The girls use that lumber to create things—like picnic tables, benches, and birdhouses—which in turn are donated to local organizations.
Hamel says she’s built with over 20,000 girls so far, and her goal is to hit one million. Her dream is to secure funding to open up new locations to serve even more communities and says that watching these girls' step into their power and believe in themselves is what keeps her moving forward. The world needs more heroes like her.
To learn more about this year's #TDThanksYou heroes, visit https://www.td.com/us/en/about-us/customers/humans-with-heart
This article originally appeared on 02.25.21
Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.
As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.
Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.
The child was sent to the office for refusing to remove his hat in class. "So, I sat down with him and asked him why, what was going on," Smith told WRTV. "He said he just got his haircut, he didn't like the way it looked, and he thought his hairline look a little funny."
Having a haircut that's a little off can be like waving a red flag at middle school bullies. So, Smith decided to fix the situation by offering the child a haircut.
"I've been cutting hair most of my life. I played college basketball and I cut my teammates' hair before games and I've been cutting my son's hair for 17 years so I had professional clippers and edgers at home, so I said, 'If I go home and get my clippers and line you up, will you go back to class,' and he said, 'Yeah, I will,'" Smith said.
A photo of the cut was posted to Facebook where it's been seen over 21,000 times.
After Smith fixed the child's hairline, the student kept up his end of the bargain and returned to class.
"You know that age is a time for peer acceptance. It's huge. And So a young man, especially an African-American young man the barbershop is a big deal in the community. Looking good a representing and presenting yourself is huge for kids," Smith said.
A few days later, Smith posted a photo on Facebook of some memorable cuts he's given in the past. "Who knew a skill that helped me survive in college would be useful 20 years later?" he captioned the post.
via Jason Smith / Facebook
Smith saw the situation as a way to help the child in the moment instead of having to resort to disciplinary actions. From the child's perspective what's worse -- being ridiculed in front of your peers or having a parent get angry?
"We're not disciplining with a hard fist. You could call and have the parent pick up the kid up for defiance. Or you can sit and get to the root of the problem and see what can I do to help you? What do you need right now?" Smith said.
Imagine what the world would be like if more people simply asked each other, "What do you need?"
"He really was not trying to get out of class. He just thought that he would be laughed at. So, we took the time and did what we could to help him," Smith said.
Smith recently posted a quote by professor Brené Brown on Facebook that serves as a great reminder of the practical power of solving problems at the root through compassion and direct action. "Leaders must either invest a reasonable amount of time attending to fears and feelings, or squander an unreasonable amount of time trying to manage ineffective and unproductive behavior."
How we can create equity for all communities?
Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.
Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.
Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)
This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.
To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.
This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.
After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”
“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”
Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).
As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.
Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.
“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”
"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/
The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.
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Society must be unwavering in pursuit of social and environmental justice.
Voices from every part of the world have been calling for action on climate change and the rapid loss of nature for decades, but too many in power have ignored this growing chorus. Even today, with the impacts of climate change starkly evident, many leaders contend that now is *not* the time to take measures to halt or reverse climate change. And despite mounting evidence pointing to the market growth potential of green technology adoption, concerns over the cost of saving the planet at the expense of sparing the global economy from short-term pain have become the preferred stalling tactic.
We have now arrived at the end of a very long line of “passing the buck” from generation to generation, and might well run out of time before enough gatekeepers in government and business are convinced to act. Concerned only with near-term growth, they could cause the loss of everything in the next decade, including the very ecosystems that they and everyone on earth depend upon for survival and well-being.
On September 23rd, young people all over the world participated in a strike to make that point. The largest generation of youth in history, we represent a massive wave of voters, workers, and consumers who see the direct link between climate action now and the world’s future stability. Our strike underscored the dwindling options available to avert calamity and promote justice for communities bearing the greatest climate change burden.
Our strength comes from common experience. While our day-to-day lives look different depending on the places we live and languages we speak, we are unified by the grim likelihood of an unlivable future. That realization is based on two facts: climate is changing faster than anticipated, evident in the science and increased headlines of widespread wildfires and floods, scorching temperatures, agricultural failures, and vast injustices; and too many of our leaders continue the longstanding tradition of ignoring the threat.
We are not only striking, we are also acting. From Indigenous youth on the frontlines against destructive megaprojects like the US’s Line 3 pipeline and the Philippines’ Gened Dam, to child plaintiffs pursuing environmental justice in the courts – everywhere you look, youth are acting for systemic change. We won’t do it alone; we need those from every generation who understand the urgency of the climate crisis to join us to address its root causes in concrete ways. Here’s where to start:
Society must be unwavering in pursuit of social and environmental justice. Despite contributing the least to climate change, countries and communities across the global south suffer the most severe climate impacts. At the same time, violence against environmental defenders is disproportionately concentrated in this region, overwhelmingly directed at Indigenous Peoples. Every decision must be rooted in a respect for human rights.
We need a transformation of our economic systems. We are living through the dire results of adherence to an economic status quo that expects infinite growth from finite resources. We must actively resist the culture of extraction and acquisition, working to heal our relationship with nature, taking heed of the wisdom of Indigenous Peoples and their stewardship of the land.
We need innovative educational systems that nurture critical thinkers and incorporate traditional knowledge and Indigenous wisdom that support clean economies, setting people up for success in sustainable energy and agriculture. Education has the power to unlock solutions and reshape values, producing lasting change, steering us towards a sustainable, peaceful, equitable future.
Most of all, we need immediate action. This crisis is not happening in some blurry, distant future; it’s happening now, everywhere. We are experiencing the consequences of systems built on power and greed, and people are dying because those in power have decided money is worth more than human life.
The complexity and scale of today’s environmental crises are enough to leave even committed optimists frozen with fear, but the mass mobilization of youth is proving it doesn’t have to be this way. Our generation is carving an identity of perseverance, accountability, and determined resistance to unjust, unsustainable systems. We are bringing our collective voices to international policy processes through self-organized channels, calling for proactive steps toward meaningful youth participation.
This will feel immediately familiar to all who have acted for the environment in the past. Your generation will remember how many in power were quick to dismiss your calls for change. You may have experienced what we face now; in hostile spaces, we are silenced, criminalized, or intentionally misinterpreted to preserve the status quo. Elsewhere, our calls for justice are condescendingly referred to as ‘inspiring,’ but apparently not inspiring enough for those in power to act.
By joining our voices, we can’t be silenced. Our collective future depends on being heard and seen at this crucial moment for our planet.
Katharina Maier and Sefa Tauli are youth activists with Fridays for Future U.S. and the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN), respectively. Together, they’re writing on behalf of YOUNGO, the Children and Youth constituency to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; the Secretary General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change; and The Major Group of Children and Youth to UN Environment (UNEP-MGCY), which represents over a million young climate and nature advocates across six continents.
It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.
Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.
Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.
Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.
These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.
Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:
1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"
A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.
2. "The Sandlot"
It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.
3. "Drop Dead Fred"
Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!
4. "The Goonies"
Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.
5. Tim Burton's "Batman"
Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.
Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.
7. "Space Jam"
It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.
I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.
9. "The Parent Trap"
Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.
10. "The Land Before Time"
No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.
11. "Richie Rich"
The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.
12. "Dunston Checks In"
Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.
13. "George of the Jungle"
Watch out for the tree!!!Giphy
Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.
14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
Yes, they were professional detectives.Giphy
Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.