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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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'People tell me to kill my child . . ." This mom is on a fierce mission to battle hate.

Update: Sophia passed away in May of 2019 surrounded by her loved ones. Natalie Weaver continues to use her voice to advocate for people with disabilities.

Natalie Weaver's holiday photo should have been received with joy like any other family's. Instead, a vile commenter attacked her and her daughter Sophia.

The photo shows Weaver's husband Mark sitting in front of the tree with their 10-year-old daughter, Sophia. As Sophia gazes at the tree in wonder, her smiling dad helps her hang an ornament. It's a sweet photo of a father and his obviously unique daughter sharing a warm holiday moment.

But one woman saw something else—an opportunity to spew hatred and prejudice toward a child with profound needs.


Weaver received a vile message in response to her photo. But rather than ignore it, she published the comment so that people could see what kind of stigma and unkindness people with disabilities can face.

Unfortunately, such comments are not all that uncommon for Sophia's family.

Sophia's deformities and disabilities make her one of a kind, but they aren't what define her.

Sophia was born with facial, hand, and foot deformities. Weaver says she's the only person in the world with her features, and also the only person in the world with her combination of conditions.

"Each year has brought a new diagnosis for Sophia," says Weaver. Her health challenges include an extremely rare immune deficiency, Type 1 diabetes, and Rett Syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes seizures, breathing disorders, tremors, and many other issues, and has left Sophia unable to walk, talk, and use her hands. She needs around the clock care.

But Sophia is so much more than a child with profound needs. She's a daughter, a sister to two younger siblings, and in some ways, a typical sassy 10-year-old.

"Though she goes through a lot," says Weaver, "she is the strongest person I know. She handles it all with a smile and laughs a lot. She has an attitude, rolls her eyes at me and is silly! When her body calms, and the neurological storms pass (this can last a minute, days and weeks) sometimes she surprises us with a word like 'annoying' (she was calling me that!)."

Weaver says that Sophia has brought a lot to their family:

"Though we experience heartache and struggles, Sophia has changed our lives for the better. She makes our live richer, fuller and filled with love. She's taught us to live in the moment and to appreciate the small things. She is my child, and I love her just the same as any other parent loves their child. It seems some people don't understand that. Society has defined beauty, and value but because of Sophia I now have my own definition, and I know what true beauty and value are. Sophia is beautiful, and valuable, and is filled with so much happiness and love. She deserves respect and dignity just like everyone else."

"People often tell me to kill my child, to put her out of her misery . . ."

Weaver decided years ago that she wasn't going to hide her daughter away from the world. She became an advocate for people with disabilities and deformities and shares her family's life with Sophia openly on social media.

Unfortunately, living openly with differences sometimes means receiving horrible, vile comments from the dregs of humanity.

"I've received a lot of comments since I decided to share a glimpse into our lives and Sophia's story to change the stigma surrounding profoundly disabled kids and in Sophia's case also facial deformities. You don't hear or see families like mine often. People often tell me to kill my child, to put her out of her misery, and that she looks horrible, scary and that she is worthless. I receive many different forms of hate speech, discrimination and even death threats against my daughter and me. Someone used her image to promote abortion. In real life, people have screamed at the top of their lungs and laughed, called her a monster, point her out, stare, whisper or pretend she doesn't exist."

Weaver says that people think there's "a magical plug to pull," but there's not. "Sophia is alive because she is strong and her body is strong," says Weaver. "We've never taken any unnecessary measures to keep her alive. We will lose her one day, but while she is here, we will take every step possible to decrease her pain and make her quality of life the best it can be, which is the only reason she's had 28 surgeries."

The idea that anyone would tell a parent their child should die is unfathomable. To imply that they should kill their own child themselves is the height of human cruelty.

We can all help fight the stigma and support people like Sophia and her family.

To learn more about battling the stigma, Weaver suggests checking out https://faceequalityinternational.org, an organization founded by a man with a facial disfigurement and which seeks to create "a world where everyone is treated fairly whatever their face looks like."

Weaver also founded Sophia's Voice, a non-profit organization in Sophia's honor, to help others by providing medical assistance and equipment to people with disabilities, and she has dedicated her Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts to sharing a glimpse into her family's life to change the stigma surrounding kids with facial deformities and profound disabilities.

"I was a very private person for the first 7.5 yrs of Sophia's life because of people like the lady who made this public comment," says Weaver. "Once I decided to no longer hide, I have made it my mission to fight for the dignity and respect that profoundly disabled people and people with facial deformities deserve."

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Image shared by Madalyn Parker

Madalyn shared with her colleagues about her own mental health.






Madalyn Parker wanted to take a couple days off work. She didn't have the flu, nor did she have plans to be on a beach somewhere, sipping mojitos under a palm tree.

Parker, a web developer from Michigan, wanted a few days away from work to focus on her mental health.


Parker lives with depression. And, she says, staying on top of her mental health is absolutely crucial.

"The bottom line is that mental health is health," she says over email. "My depression stops me from being productive at my job the same way a broken hand would slow me down since I wouldn't be able to type very well."

work emails, depression, office emails, community

Madalyn Parker was honest with her colleagues about her situation.

Photo courtesy Madalyn Parker.

She sent an email to her colleagues, telling them the honest reason why she was taking the time off.

"Hopefully," she wrote to them, "I'll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%."

Soon after the message was sent, the CEO of Parker's company wrote back:

"Hey Madalyn,

I just wanted to personally thank you for sending emails like this. Every time you do, I use it as a reminder of the importance of using sick days for mental health — I can't believe this is not standard practice at all organizations. You are an example to us all, and help cut through the stigma so we can all bring our whole selves to work."

Moved by her CEO's response, Parker posted the email exchange to Twitter.

The tweet, published on June 30, 2017, has since gone viral, amassing 45,000 likes and 16,000 retweets.

"It's nice to see some warm, fuzzy feelings pass around the internet for once," Parker says of the response to her tweet. "I've been absolutely blown away by the magnitude though. I didn't expect so much attention!"

Even more impressive than the tweet's reach, however, were the heartfelt responses it got.

"Thanks for giving me hope that I can find a job as I am," wrote one person, who opened up about living with panic attacks. "That is bloody incredible," chimed in another. "What a fantastic CEO you have."

Some users, however, questioned why there needs to be a difference between vacation time and sick days; after all, one asked, aren't vacations intended to improve our mental well-being?

That ignores an important distinction, Parker said — both in how we perceive sick days and vacation days and in how that time away from work is actually being spent.

"I took an entire month off to do partial hospitalization last summer and that was sick leave," she wrote back. "I still felt like I could use vacation time because I didn't use it and it's a separate concept."

Many users were astounded that a CEO would be that understanding of an employee's mental health needs.

They were even more surprised that the CEO thanked her for sharing her personal experience with caring for her mental health.

After all, there's still a great amount of stigma associated with mental illness in the workplace, which keeps many of us from speaking up to our colleagues when we need help or need a break to focus on ourselves. We fear being seen as "weak" or less committed to our work. We might even fear losing our job.

Ben Congleton, the CEO of Parker's company, Olark, even joined the conversation himself.

In a blog post on Medium, Congleton wrote about the need for more business leaders to prioritize paid sick leave, fight to curb the stigma surrounding mental illness in the workplace, and see their employees as people first.

"It's 2017. We are in a knowledge economy. Our jobs require us to execute at peak mental performance," Congleton wrote. "When an athlete is injured, they sit on the bench and recover. Let's get rid of the idea that somehow the brain is different."


This article originally appeared on 07.11.17

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Education

Voice recordings of people who were enslaved offer incredible first-person accounts of U.S. history

"The results of these digitally enhanced recordings are arresting, almost unbelievable. The idea of hearing the voices of actual slaves from the plantations of the Old South is as powerful—as startling, really—as if you could hear Abraham Lincoln or Robert E. Lee speak." - Ted Koppel

Library of Congress

When we think about the era of American slavery, many of us tend to think of it as the far distant past. While slavery doesn't exist as a formal institution today, there are people living who knew formerly enslaved black Americans first-hand. In the wide arc of history, the legal enslavement of people on U.S. soil is a recent occurrence—so recent, in fact, that we have voice recordings of interviews with people who lived it.


Many of us have read written accounts of enslavement, from Frederick Douglass's autobiography to some of the 2,300 first-person accounts housed in the Library of Congress. But how many of us have heard the actual voices of people who were enslaved telling their own stories?

ABC News' Nightline with Ted Koppel aired a segment in 1999 in which we can hear the first-person accounts of people who had been enslaved taken from interviews conducted in the 1930s and 40s (also housed in the Library of Congress). They include the voice of a man named Fountain Hughes, who was born into slavery in 1848 and whose grandfather had "belonged to" Thomas Jefferson.

As Koppel says in the segment, "The results of these digitally enhanced recordings are arresting, almost unbelievable. The idea of hearing the voices of actual slaves from the plantations of the Old South is as powerful—as startling, really—as if you could hear Abraham Lincoln or Robert E. Lee speak."

Indeed, hearing formerly enslaved people share their experiences of being bought and sold like cattle, sleeping on bare pallets, and witnessing whippings for insubordination is a heartbreaking reminder of how close we are to this ugly chapter of our history. The segment is well worth ten minutes to watch:

This article originally appeared on 03.09.20

Teresa Kaye Newman thinks that Boomer parents were right about a few things.


Teresa Kaye Newman, a teacher about to have a son, knows a lot about how to deal with children. So she created a list of 11 things she agrees with Boomers on when it comes to raising kids.

Newman believes she has credibility on the issue because she has 13 years of experience dealing with “hundreds and hundreds” of other people’s kids and has seen what happens when her so-called “Boomer” parenting principles aren’t implemented.

Of course, Newman is using some broad stereotypes in calling for a return to Boomer parenting ideas when many Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z parents share the same values. But, as someone who deals with children every day, she has the right to point out that today’s kids are entitled and spend too much time staring at screens.


Here are the 11 things that Newman agrees with Boomers on when it comes to raising kids.

11 Things I agree with boomer parents on raising children

@teresakayenewman

11 Things I agree with boomer parents on raising children, as a #teacher and soon to be mom.

1. No iPads

“All I’m going to say is my kid has a whole world to explore and none of that has to do with being stuck in front of a tablet.”

2. No smartphone until high school

“Kids that are younger than that age do not know internet safety to a point where I feel comfortable letting them have free reign of the internet.”

3. Teaching the value of education

“What I’m going to teach them is [education] has nothing to do with how much money you’re making or how successful you’ll be professionally. But you will still value it, nonetheless. You will go with it as far as you possibly can, and then once you’re done with it, you can do whatever you want.”

4. Respect your teachers and treat them well

“This may be biased because I am a teacher, but everyone who has gone through a professional degree program and has put in the time and is there, giving you the quality education, deserves some type of attention and deserves to be treated well.”

5. Be kind to elderly folks

“If they’re on public transportation and they’re sitting down and there’s an old lady standing next to them and there are no other seats available, my child will know to stand up and give that lady his seat.”


6. Yes ma’am

Newman will teach her kid to use the terms sir and ma’am when speaking to adults. “It does not matter your age or status in society, as long as they are respecting their pronouns, that’s how we’re gonna be talking to other people.”

7. Greetings and gratitude

“Simple greetings and simple terms of gratitude are just not being taught like they used to. I think it’s really sad.”

8. Consequences for poor behavior

“If they’re neglecting their schoolwork and not doing what they’re supposed to do, they get their technology taken away. … Simple things like this are pretty common sense and I’m not sure why they’re not being done anymore.”

9. Respect adult conversations and spaces

“They don’t get to interrupt 2 adults speaking to each other. They don’t get to come and butt in at an inappropriate time when 2 people are talking to each other."

10. Clean your mess

“My child is going to put as much work in the house as we are regardless of whether he’s paying rent out of his own pocket or not. That’s because when my son becomes an adult, I want him to be a partner or a spouse or a roommate that someone is proud to have around.”

11. Bedtime

“I don’t care how old my kid is as long as he is living under my roof as a minor; he’s gonna have some sort of bedtime. But this staying up until 3 or 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning or pulling all-nighters like kids are used to … is absolutely not normal. And I’m not going to have a kid that’s staying up that late and then not waking up the next day.”


This article originally appeared on 12.20.23


Grandma shows granddaughter shorthand

Grandparents can be a wealth of history and knowledge. But one TikTok user, Reagan Jones, was blown away by her grandmother's ability to write in shorthand, so she did what a lot of people do in this century—uploaded it to TikTok. Not surprisingly, most people who viewed the video had no idea what shorthand was and some thought the whole thing was made up. The reaction to it certainly makes you question if it's more than a lost art, but a forgotten part of history.



Shorthand is a method of quickly writing that has been around for a centuries. The first recorded history of a form of shorthand being used was in the 4th century B.C.. In the 1800s, two different types of shorthand became popular, Pitman in 1837 and Gregg in 1888. Looking at the shorthand alphabet may make you furrow your eyebrows because a lot of the symbols look ridiculously similar. It's full of lines that are straight, slightly curled or partially looped and some that just look like a squiggle. It's something to behold and resembles a super secret language.

Judging by the comments on the video, other people feel the same way. One commenter, Jamie wrote, "I've heard the term shorthand but I think my brain always took it as abbreviations not this 😳😅"

Another commenter, Samantha said, "Nah this has to be a glitch in the timeline I’ve never heard of this from any of my family member."

@reaganjones176

This is called “short hand” and its a real form of old-style note-taking. She uses this to write herself notes daily. 😂#coolgrandma #funwithgrandma #grandparents #handwriting #shorthand

In a reply to a commenter, Jones revealed, "My grandma was a legal secretary for the railroad :) She won a lot of awards for her work and shorthand in school."

Now, that's just cool. Sure there are still professions like court reporters and such that use shorthand, but it's not as common as it was back when most people's grandparents and great-grandparents were young adults. This was such a neat blast from the past. It's clear that Jones' grandma could probably still take home some awards for her unique skill.


This article originally appeared on 09.13.22

Photo by Danial Igdery on Unsplash

Do we need to redefine what we mean by "low-skill" labor?

A software engineer who used to work at Taco Bell has prompted a debate over “skilled” and “unskilled” or “low-skill” jobs and how much value we place on workers based on those labels. A post on Reddit shows a screenshot that reads:

“Idk man I’ve worked at Taco Bell and as a software engineer and the job that takes way more skill is not the one u would expect lol. Making a quesarito during lunch rush is 10x harder than writing any sort of algorithm. Service jobs are not ‘low skill’ bro lmfao.”

Others who have also worked service jobs weighed in with their thoughts and experiences, with some agreeing with the tweet and some vehemently disagreeing.


Some said "low-skill" doesn't mean easy, just not something that takes long to learn.

“Low skill doesn't mean easy. It just means that it doesn't take long to train.

Low skill jobs are usually hard AF, because a lot of people can do them, often it's physical and the profit margins can be low. So, people get exploited.

High skill jobs can be very easy. If the profit margins are high, the job is mostly mental, and there aren't that many people that can do it then you get treated better. A doctor at the end of their career is generally not stressing themselves out taking patient appointments.”davidellis23

“Yes, they are low skill.

I was trained to be a waiter in 3 days, and there wasn't much difference between myself and waiters with 10 yrs experience.

I studied 4 yrs for a CS degree, have been working and learning for for awhile as a dev, and I still don't know sh*t about sh*t.” -Sonmi451-

“The spirit of what this guy is saying is right, he’s just using the wrong words.

IT jobs are way more skilled than service work. But service jobs are far and away much more difficult than IT jobs to actually do day in and day out. Service work is emotionally draining and soul crushing

IT jobs test knowledge, service jobs test will.”

In some ways, it’s an issue of semantics, and the actual definition of “skill” doesn’t make the discussion much clearer. Merriam-Webster defines "skill" as “the ability to use one’s knowledge effectively and readily in execution of performance,” "dexterity or coordination especially in the execution of learned physical tasks” and “a learned power of doing something competently: a developed aptitude or ability.”

While it’s true that the training involved in jobs like food service is not nearly as long or involved as becoming a computer programmer, calling that work “unskilled” or “low-skill” doesn't really go along with the definitions of the word. It can also seem to devalue the skills necessary to be good at various kinds of jobs. Is multitasking not a skill? Is anticipating needs not a skill? Is handling difficult customers not a skill? Is problem-solving on the fly in a fast-paced environment not a skill?

“Food service in the kitchen especially is ALL about multitasking, efficiency, and pivoting. I got four orders coming up, what can I prep now so it's ready with the rest of the next two customer's food? Ope now there's five. Customer says they had a large fry but cashier didn't ring it up or they didn't order it, gotta put more fries down either way.

Any mistakes or poor choices moment to moment mean everything gets slowed down. It's much less like one task and more like 20 where in most cases you have to do things out of order because stuff takes time to cook but you don't want food to get cold.” Hawkatom

Some suggested using alternate terms that feel more accurate, such as "credentialed" or "specially trained."

"I prefer 'credentialed' or not. Whether or not you need a certificate before your on the job training is an orthogonal concept from how much job specific training or skill is required." Bakkster

"In economics 'skilled labor' means jobs that require training/apprenticeships this it's doctors, plumbers, lawyers, masons et al.

Unskilled labor does NOT mean that the job requires no skill only that you don't need certification or training to claim the title."No-Appearance-9113

Much of the discussion boils down to the fact that we place more value on certain skills than on others and pay accordingly, despite the fact that we rely on the people who do those difficult "unskilled" or "low-skill" jobs all the time (while there are plenty of highly skilled jobs that only benefit a small portion of the population). We need all kinds of workers, of course. We just need to be mindful of not judging some jobs as less challenging, less important or less valuable simply because they are labeled as "low-skill."