When he's not fighting off bears or trying to win an Oscar, Leonardo DiCaprio is busy saving the environment.

The man is passionate about the planet. And why shouldn't he be? It is THE ONLY PLACE CAPABLE OF SUSTAINING HUMAN LIFE. Sorry, his enthusiasm is contagious.


DiCaprio speaking at the COP 21 Paris Climate Conference last December. Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images.

On Tuesday, DiCaprio received the Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum for his work on climate change.

The Crystal Award honors artists whose actions improve the state of the world. DiCaprio and his foundation (the aptly named Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation) work with more than 70 partners in 40 countries to protect the planet's remaining natural ecosystems.

DiCaprio traveled to Davos, Switzerland, to accept the award alongside fellow recipients Will.i.am, Chinese actress Yao Chen, and Olafur Eliasson, a Danish artist. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images.

As DiCaprio said in his speech, "These complex ecosystems can never be replaced; they are the foundation of our global economy, and more importantly, our interconnected climate — without them life as we know it will simply collapse."

During his acceptance speech, DiCaprio pledged $15 million from his foundation to fast-track sustainability projects around the world.

DiCaprio is putting his money where his mouth is and fast-tracking several innovative sustainability projects in every corner of the globe.

Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images.

These are the five exciting projects his foundation committed to:

1. $6 million will be used to help monitor commercial fishing activity.

Global Fishing Watch is a new interactive web tool from Google, Oceana, and SkyTruth that actively monitors all of the trackable fishing activity in the ocean to help put an end to overfishing. The platform is still in the prototype stage, but will be available to the public, allowing consumers, seafood suppliers, the media, fishermen, and other stakeholders to track commercial fishing around the world.

A fisherman arranges dried fish near Manila Bay. Photo by Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images.

2. $3.2 million goes toward protecting the rain forest from the palm oil industry.

The funds are headed to the Rainforest Acton Network to help protect one of the last rain forests on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Indonesia produces much of the world's palm oil, and producers are intentionally burning forests to clear the land for plantations. The fires have resulted in dangerous brown air, over half a million respiratory infections, and more carbon emissions each day than the daily activity of the entire United States economy. The grant will help preserve 6.5 million acres of rain forest, which DiCaprio described as, "the vital lungs of our planet."

Fires rage as the peatland forest is cleared for palm oil plantations in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images.

3. Another $3.4 million is headed to support indigenous populations as they defend their land against oil drilling.

ClearWater protects portions of the Amazon rain forest in Ecuador, where oil drilling has marred the once pristine landscape. The partnership with DiCaprio's organization also brings together the Ceibo Alliance — four indigenous nations, the Cófan, Secoya, Siona, and Waorani, working as one for the first time ever to protect their land, water, and rich culture.

A local activist shows waste from an oil well in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Photos by Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty Images.

4. $1 million in debt relief will be given in exchange for ocean and coral reef conservation off the coast of the Seychelles.

Off the coast of east Africa's Seychelles Islands is a portion of the Indian Ocean about the size of Nebraska. Rising ocean temperatures and carbon levels are damaging coral reefs in this spot, which once provided a lush habitat for many marine animals.

To protect this vital ecosystem, the Nature Conservancy proposed a $30 million debt swap for the Seychelles Islands in exchange for a promise to protect marine life and promote conservation. DiCaprio's foundation is contributing $1 million to the effort.

A sea turtle looks for a nesting spot on the beach of one of the Seychelles outer islands. Photo by Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images.

5. And finally, $1.5 million will be used to promote renewable energy in the U.S.

Stateside, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is teaming up with the Solutions Project, a nonprofit with a vision for a 100% renewable energy future. The $1.5 million will fund smaller community-based efforts all over the country.

President Obama chats with Sandra Richter, the co-founder and CEO of Soofa, which produces solar-powered sofas that can be used to charge electronic devices. Photo by Mike Theiler-Pool/Getty Images.

DiCaprio hopes to fund more projects, but he can't do it alone.

Though DiCaprio's passion is palpable, it can't write checks. And as he reminds us, currently less than 3% of all philanthropic giving goes toward conservation, sustainability, and animal protection.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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Processed food gets a bad rap. But without it, we might have never been able to even say the word “food.” Or “friendly,” or “fun” or “velociraptor” for that matter. Why is that?

“F’s” and “v’s” belong to a group of sounds known as labiodentals. They happen when you raise your bottom lip to touch your top teeth and are used in more than half of today’s human language. But science suggests we didn’t always have this linguistic ability.

As hunter gatherers, our ancestors ate a diet that was minimally processed and required more effort to chew. As a result, by adolescence their teeth would develop what’s called an edge-to-edge bite, where the jaw is elongated so that both the bottom and top teeth are completely flush with one another.

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"Veteran" mom and "new" mom parent differently.

When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

But soon, reality sets in and if they have more kids, they'll probably be raised with a lot less attention. As a result, first-born kids turn out a bit differently than their younger siblings.

"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

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