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She was adopted at 17. Then, a stranger who'd 'been where she is' offered to help pay for college.

As a child in the foster system, Ashley Lacasse had already attended 19 different schools by the time she was 17. But now she has a stable home and the opportunity to attend college, thanks to her two adoptive moms and the generosity of a perfect stranger.


"There's sort of this unspoken rule with older kids that are in the system," Ashley told her new moms, "and once you hit about 10 years old, nobody wants you anymore and you will never find a family."

That sense of hopelessness is why Ashley is adamant about sharing her good fortune of being adopted in January by Zoe and Amanda Jette Knox, who live in Ottawa, Canada. But she had no idea how much brighter her future would soon get.

This happy chain of events all started when Ashley befriended Amanda and Zoe's daughter, Alexis. Ashley was in a heartbreaking foster placement that left her crying every day, and Alexis advocated for her friend to join their family. When Alexis' older brother moved out to get his own place at the age of 21, Ashley moved in.

RELATED: They almost lost hope in foster care, but these teens found their happy ending instead.

Ashley's adoptive mom, Amanda, is the bestselling author of Love Lives Here, and even she is surprised by the sweet and happy ending to this story. Not only does she have a new daughter she loves every bit as much as her biological children, but an anonymous stranger who heard about the adoption has offered to contribute towards Ashley's college education.

Amanda shared her excitement in a tweet thread that went viral:

"Yesterday, the BBC published a piece about my wife & I adopting our teen daughter. Today I got an email from someone who offered to help pay her college tuition because they've been where she is, and today they can. So they did. They really did. Holy cow, people are amazing.

I'm keeping this vague because the person (understandably) wishes to remain anonymous. But they had no idea who we were until they read the article, found a way to contact me and we've since spoken on the phone and I'm still processing their incredible kindness and generosity.

Ashley is on cloud nine. She just can't believe it. We haven't had much time to save for her tuition, so this help is seriously life-changing. It makes everything easier. This person changed everything, and I know we're all hoping to meet in person someday."


Within days, Ashley applied to enter a baking program at a local college. Amanda describes her as a talented baker and reports that they are awaiting a response to her application. The good news of the anonymous donation touched the hearts of many people online, with countless tweets praising the generosity of the donor. Life has turned around in a big way for a young lady who had been through so much.

While Ashley was excited to be adopted after bouncing around the foster care system, Amanda is quick to point out that Ashley already has a mom and that nobody is being "replaced." Now she has three moms!

"I think it's really important to acknowledge that Ashley has a good relationship with her biological family and that her joining our family also means that her biological family is a part of our family. I really think sometimes we villainize or at the very least really misunderstand parents whose children are in care. They love her very, very much. Our job is not to replace them. Our job is to help them provide stability for her, so that she can keep having relationships with them, and keep growing as a person," Amanda explained.

RELATED: When this man told his foster care story, people listened — 39 million people.

Amanda offered her advice for parents considering fostering or adoption:

"The biggest thing to know is that just because a kid has been through trauma doesn't mean that they're not deserving of love. I think sometimes people shy away from this idea of fostering or adopting an older child because of the things that they could have gone through and what that could mean. And yes, certainly there can be attachment issues, and yes, certainly it can be more challenging in some areas. But when you create that trust and when that love really starts to grow, it is so worth it. It is the most amazing experience….So I would say go for it, and know that your own experiences, if you've had any struggles yourself, your own experiences can really help you parent better."

The gift of tuition was life-changing, like the shared gift of adoption and a new family member. Amanda summed it up beautifully in saying, "We have three biological children and I really do love Ashley just as much. She has taken a piece of our heart in a really good way and it's surprised me how much I can love this amazing kid."

Alison Tedford is an Indigenous freelance writer from Abbotsford, BC, Canada. She blogs on Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops and operates Feel Better Marketing.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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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.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

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.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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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.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin 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?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"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.

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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