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Tens of thousands of workers are demanding higher wages and better treatment.

Workers are doing what they can to lift up themselves and their families.

Tens of thousands of workers are demanding higher wages and better treatment.
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SEIU

Something important is happening on April 14, 2016, and we don't mean National Dolphin Day (although that's pretty cool, too).

Workers across the globe are joining together to demand a living wage and the right to unionize.

The idea is pretty simple: that everybody who works should be paid enough to afford their basic needs and that it's wrong that profitable corporations like McDonald's choose to pay people so little that they are trapped in poverty.


Image via The All-Nite Images/Flickr.

What started as a movement of a couple hundred fast-food workers in November 2012 has gained tremendous momentum — not only across the country, but across the globe. It's expanded from fast-food workers to include child care, health care, higher education, and numerous other workers. Tens of thousands of workers are expected to turn out in hundreds of protests on April 14, 2016.

In advance of what the Fight for $15 is calling its "biggest ever" day of strikes, here are three inspiring things about the fight so far.

1. It's winning.

On April 4, 2016, the governors of California and New York signed bills establishing a minimum wage of $15 per hour in their states. That means raises for 9 million workers. That's HUGE.

"What we’re doing is working. We’re really making this happen," Naquasia LeGrand, one of the workers who has been part of the movement since the beginning, told Upworthy. She participated in the first walkout on November 29, 2012, and has since become a face of the movement, organizing flash strikes and even appearing on "The Colbert Report."

There's Naquasia, leading a protest. Image via SEIU, used with permission.

She recalls the first meeting she attended and what it was that convinced her to join. "It was just inspiring that we were willing to to stand up straight and tall and have our voices be heard. From there, I knew this is where I need to be to make a difference in our country."

2. It's only possible because people are banding together.

In a country that's been feeling more and more divided, it can be easy to look past the instances of people joining together. But the Fight for $15 is a pretty incredible reminder that when people work together, change happens.

As LeGrand puts it, "It made me feel that the only way Americans can survive in America is that we stick together to keep our country strong. These corporations try to divide us in so many different ways. ... We’re all in the same boat. We’re all struggling to take care of our families, to live a better life, to save money for our future."

In a delightful interview with Stephen Colbert, LeGrand explained why it's important to her to organize:

"Me as my one voice can't go to my manager and be like, 'Listen, I want these set days ... this is how much money I want' — no, I have to come with a team, I have to come with my coworkers and other workers around the country and let them know it's not just me who's going through this, it's all of us going through this."

Image via SEIU, used with permission.

3. It's about more than wages.

LeGrand enjoys and gets satisfaction from her job and goes out of her way to be a good employee. In return, the corporations she's worked for — well, they don't return the favor. The raise LeGrand received this year of just 15 cents, bringing her total wages to $8.15 an hour, only drove this point home for her.

"I enjoy working at my job and serving people and being able to please a customer knowing that I got their order right or their food was delicious or my service was so great they’re coming back again. I go out of my way for McDonald's and my customers, and they won’t go out of their way for me. ... A 15 cent raise tells you right there, McDonald's, tells you, they don’t care about their workers."

Image via SEIU, used with permission.

In addition to making it very difficult for workers to support themselves and their families, that undervaluing takes an emotional toll.

"With workers who work for so long for so little, we feel like that’s it. Like that’s what we settle for. That this is what we deserve. That we deserve $7.25," she said.

That's a feeling LeGrand doesn't want her son, who turned one in January, to ever know.

When asked about the jobs she envisions for her son, who, LeGrand says, may someday work at McDonald's or KFC given the growth in fast food jobs and stagnation in middle- and high-wage jobs, she said, "I will hope they offer better pay and of course benefits, paid sick days, paid vacation days. This is what I’m fighting for now so my son don’t have to know how it is to struggle so much for what they call a minimum wage job or low-wage job."

LeGrand is joining thousands of other low-wage workers in walkouts across the country on April 14, 2016.

She has spent almost four years fighting this fight and says she'll spend the next four years doing the same if that's what it takes. We really hope it doesn't take that long.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."