She started fighting injustice as a kid. Now she's helping other kids be brilliant at it.
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For as long as she can remember, Aria Finger has fought against social injustice wherever she's found it. Even when that fight ruffled some feathers.

For example, in a high school social studies presentation, way before she'd made social justice her career with DoSomething.org, she proposed this rather logical solution to the absurdly wide wage gap in America: the maximum wage shouldn't be greater than 40 times the minimum wage. Soon after, she found the word "communist" scrawled on her locker.

While no doubt jarring, it didn't deter her from her mission of advocating for those unheard voices.  


"My parents instilled a deep sense of fairness in me, pointing out discrimination in all its forms," Aria writes in an email.

And this activism streak only grew stronger as she came into adulthood.

Thankfully, when she graduated from college and was looking for job in 2005, she came across a nonprofit that shared her personal mission.

BE THE CHANGE.

A post shared by DoSomething.org (@dosomething) on

DoSomething is a social change platform that works to inspire young people to get out there and make an impact on a cause they care about. At the time, the whole organization was just six people. It was also before social media tools like Facebook where widely available, so everyone was literally pounding the pavement to get the word out.

Obviously today, the way the organization operates looks much different, but the mission remains the same. The internet just made it a bit easier to reach the younger generations and vice versa.

Here's how you can get involved in one of their many social good campaigns:

You become a member by telling DoSomething what you're passionate about, how much time you have to devote to it, and what skills you have to contribute. You're then matched with a campaign (or several), which offers instructions on how to take action. Once you get started, you're invited to share photos of your progress with friends/fellow members to inspire others to get involved as well.

That's it. It's that simple.

Their mission spoke to young people in a big way. In just 13 years, DoSomething grew from under 100,000 members to 6 million.

It was just about fanning the fire of social consciousness that teens and young adults already possess.

"We’re standing by their side giving them the tools, resources, knowledge, and power to unlock their inner activist," writes Aria.

Of course, she also had a lot to do with this exponential growth. In 2013, Aria founded the DoSomething Strategic, an arm of Do Something that works with brands on reaching young people through various initiatives that live in the social good realm.

For example, they're currently partnered with Garnier's Rinse Recycle Repeat campaign, which is educating the younger generations about how to recycle their beauty products the right way. Half of Americans don't recycle them at all which is part of why beauty and personal care products make up approximately one-third of the trash in landfills. This campaign is working to shrink those statistics.

And now, as the CEOs of DoSomething, she has a guiding hand in every aspect of the organization, which is perfect for an activist who could never pick just one area of social good to focus all her passion.

Aria talking to a colleague in the Do Something offices. All photos via DoSomething.org. Used with permission.

So, as you might imagine, it's almost impossible for Aria to choose just one social good campaign of her organization's to highlight. That said, here's one she loves that's started three months ago:

In honor of Ramadan, Sincerely Us is a campaign that encourages Do Something members to make homemade Happy Ramadan cards. All members have to do is send the cards in to DoSomething and they'll deliver them to every single mosque in America. The goal is to show members of the Muslim community that the younger generation sees them and supports them.

A DoSomething.org member with a Happy Ramadan card.

Another notable one, Teens for Jeans, calls on young people to donate their gentle used jeans, because it's the number one requested item from younger homeless people. According to DoSomething, there are approximately 1.7 million homeless teens in America. After the campaign was live for just five weeks, they'd collected enough jeans to clothe half of them.

But it's not just about finding solutions to the problems of today. DoSomething is also committed to getting young people to focus their activism on tomorrow, too.

Case in point, their partnership with Garnier is helping young people and adults alike clean up their recycling act so that the world is cleaner and healthier for future generations.

And again, it's a very simple mission — all you have to do is collect your empty beauty products. Once you've accumulated 10 pounds, mail them to TerraCycle — Garnier's other partner in this campaign.

DoSomething is also sharing photos of members completing the mission on social media to inspire others to join the movement.

None of this is to say activism is easy. It involves a lot of hard work. But as long as idealistic, passionate young people are taking initiative, no social good mission is too big.

That said, access to tools of engagement, like the internet, is keeping some of them from getting involved. It's Aria's ultimate goal to see every young person who wants to do good working on a DoSomething campaign, or something like it in the not-too-distant future.

"I want every young person, regardless of income, geography, race, etc. to have the opportunity to volunteer, lead, and make change," she writes. "Nothing makes you feel more powerful and confident than seeing that you can make the world a better place for your fellow humans."

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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