Subway riders in New York are paying $2 for 5 minutes of advice from an 11-year-old.

Ciro Ortiz, a sixth-grader from New York, sometimes has a tough time at school.

All photos by EmotionalAdviceKid/Instagram used with permission.

Like a lot of kids his age, he's dealt with his fair share of bullying. He says getting picked on doesn't really bother him; it's the feeling that he doesn't fit in.


"Some kids are only nice to you if you are into what they're into," he writes in an email. "I'm not going to force myself to be someone I'm not."

He figured there were a lot of people like him that could use some advice or encouragement, so he decided to do something about it.

Ciro was sitting around watching TV one day when he came up with the idea of doling out advice to stressed-out New York subway-goers.

"I think I'm wise enough to give good advice!" he says. His parents agreed.

At Ciro's booth, at the Bedford L train stop in Brooklyn, he offers five minutes of advice for $2.00 — a total bargain.

He's out there for two hours every Sunday, listening to people's problems regarding work, relationships, and with life in general.

The money Ciro makes — about $50 per week on a busy day — all goes to helping kids at his school who can't afford to buy snacks or lunch.

His first day out on the platform, Ciro says he was super nervous. But pretty soon, "clients" started coming to him in bunches.

"I didn't know if people were going to stare or laugh at me," he says. But then they "saw that I was taking it seriously."

And, surprisingly, so were they. People were coming to Ciro with real problems, and truly listening to what he had to say.

So far, the reviews are stellar.

"Somebody came up to us and said that what [Ciro] told her is what she'd been feeling in her gut that whole time," Adam, Ciro's father, told the New York Post.

Out of the mouths of babes...

The thing that seems to be on most people's minds? Love, Ciro says.

People either are't happy with who they're with or they're worried they'll never find the right person.

His absolute best advice: "When you were brought into this world, you were born into someone loving you. Look at it like that."

As for Ciro himself, he says most of his friends at school don't understand what he's doing or why. But that's OK.

Because now, he has dozens and dozens of new friends he's met on the L train platform. He's helped them all by lending a kind ear, and they've helped him finally feel like he belongs somewhere.

"Everyone needs help sometimes," he says. "You can't get through life without help."

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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