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When Ryan was 4 years old, he started dancing — and he loved it.

"I love dancing because it is a different language of expression like no other," he explains now. "Choreographers ... are brilliant storytellers."

As a kid, he knew dancing wasn't the "in" thing to do. He'd tell people he dreamed of being on Broadway, and sometimes they'd make nasty comments.


One day when Ryan was young, he asked, "Is it wrong for me to want to dance?"

But his mom Diane was always on his side. One day when Ryan was young, he asked, "Is it wrong for me to want to dance?"

"No," she said. "Go. Go dance."

Diane's been part of Ryan's story every step of the way: taking him to dance practices, watching every show, supporting his dreams in every way possible.

Diane and Ryan when he was a kid. Image via Wyndham Rewards.

And their dedication has certainly paid off — here's a look at the two of them before Ryan's recent one-night-only performance on Broadway.

Ryan is so proud that his hard work is paying off ... but he also knows he's still got a long way to go.

Ryan's performance on Broadway was part of The National High School Musical Theatre Awards (the "Jimmy Awards"). The Jimmys — named for Broadway theater owner and producer James M. Nederlander — celebrate outstanding student achievement in musical theater. Finalists get to perform on Broadway for a night, and many participants receive merit awards and college scholarships.

The Jimmy Awards recognize the best existing local arts programs, but they have also helped revitalize a passion for the arts in schools across the country. After all, who could pass up a shot at Broadway?

"The Jimmys is certainly a dream for a senior in high school, but my dream and goal for the future is to have a successful career in musical theater."

Needless to say, being a finalist in the Jimmys is a huge deal. And such an exhilarating experience. Ryan says, "getting that one night at The Minskoff Theatre was pretty special, and it's something I will forever be grateful for."

But he's not stopping there.

Ryan performs in a dance recital at a young age. Image via Wyndham Rewards.

Because for Ryan, dancing isn't just about making it to Broadway for a night. It's about being able to spend his life pursuing what he loves.

"The Jimmys is certainly a dream for a senior in high school," says Ryan, "but my dream and goal for the future is to have a successful career in musical theater."

He aspires to move his audience through dance — the same way that today's performers have moved him.

Ryan doing what he loves most: performing. Image via Wyndham Rewards.

Sure, it's always good to aim higher and dream bigger. But Diane, for one, couldn't be more proud of where Ryan is today.

Describing the night Ryan performed at the Jimmys, she says, "When he started singing ... well it was like a surreal moment in time, and no one and nothing else existed but that moment."

Way to go, Ryan!

Of course, it takes more than one awesome mom to revitalize the arts in schools. Support the arts! Every kid who loves to dance deserves a shot like Ryan.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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RumorGuard by The News Literacy Project.

The 2016 election was a watershed moment when misinformation online became a serious problem and had enormous consequences. Even though social media sites have tried to slow the spread of misleading information, it doesn’t show any signs of letting up.

A NewsGuard report from 2020 found that engagement with unreliable sites between 2019 and 2020 doubled over that time period. But we don’t need studies to show that misinformation is a huge problem. The fact that COVID-19 misinformation was such a hindrance to stopping the virus and one-third of American voters believe that the 2020 election was stolen is proof enough.

What’s worse is that according to Pew Research, only 26% of American adults are able to distinguish between fact and opinion.

To help teach Americans how to discern real news from fake news, The News Literacy Project has created a new website called RumorGuard that debunks questionable news stories and teaches people how to become more news literate.

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Family

A mom describes her tween son's brain. It's a must-read for all parents.

"Sometimes I just feel really angry and I don’t know why."

This story originally appeared on 1.05.19


It started with a simple, sincere question from a mother of an 11-year-old boy.

An anonymous mother posted a question to Quora, a website where people can ask questions and other people can answer them. This mother wrote:

How do I tell my wonderful 11 year old son, (in a way that won't tear him down), that the way he has started talking to me (disrespectfully) makes me not want to be around him (I've already told him the bad attitude is unacceptable)?

It's a familiar scenario for those of us who have raised kids into the teen years. Our sweet, snuggly little kids turn into moody middle schoolers seemingly overnight, and sometimes we're left reeling trying to figure out how to handle their sensitive-yet-insensitive selves.


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