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Thanks to Yao Ming, killing sharks for their fins is down 50%. And he's just getting started.

After a successful campaign to raise awareness about the dangerous of shark fin soup, Yao Ming is now working to fight poaching.

Thanks to Yao Ming, killing sharks for their fins is down 50%. And he's just getting started.

I don't know about you, but I can't wait for retirement. I have delicious dreams to do nothing in my fancy beachside home as I grow old, soak up some sun, and read and write at my leisure. And I was totally OK with my goals of supreme lazydom ... until I saw what Yao Ming's been doing since retiring from the NBA.

Yao Ming is not on a beach drinking things with tiny umbrellas in them. Yao Ming is saving the sharks.


It's a tough goal, but Yao is up to the task. Photo by Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images.

In his home country of China, shark fin soup had become so popular that the country became the largest market for shark fin. While there isn't much meat in the fin itself, the dish was considered something of a status symbol. As more people were able to afford to order shark fin soup, our sharky friends paid the price — with their lives.

A shocking 1 in 4 shark species is now endangered.

The number of sharks in our seas has been steadily decreasing for decades. About 100 million sharks a year are killed — 73% of those are targeted for their fins, which are usually cut off before the shark is left to die.

That's why Yao teamed up with the conservation nonprofit WildAid to spread the word that shark fin soup is bad news bears. Since launching with the slogan "When the buying stops, the killing can too," a huge shift has occurred. The campaign has been credited with cutting the number of sharks killed for their fins by 50 percent.

So, yeah ... Yao Ming's retirement work definitely puts my plan to shame.

Thanks to Yao's campaign with WildAid, support for a shark fin soup ban has skyrocketed in China.

Until recently, many Chinese didn't even know that shark fin soup came from sharks. (The Mandarin translation is "fish wing soup.") Now, surveys show that a whopping 91% support a nationwide ban of shark fin consumption. While the ban hasn't happened yet, the Chinese government has banned shark fin soup at its state dinners.

Now that's some news to dance about!

"Don't eat us, please!" GIF via Discovery.

Thanks to the shark fin campaign's success, Ming is looking to bring his awareness-raising powers to more members of the animal kingdom.

Ming recently visited Kenya to raise awareness about the dangers of poaching elephants and rhinos for their tusks and horns. His journey is documented on the Emmy-nominated "Saving Africa's Giants with Yao Ming" by Animal Planet.

I think the baby elephant is on to something ... let's take Ming's lead. Image via Animal Planet's "Saving Africa's Giants."

The shark fin soup campaign's success proves that knowledge really is power.

Yao has been able to use his celebrity to make serious progress on an issue that came down to people just not being properly informed. I can't wait to see how his new efforts to save elephants and rhinos turn out.

Huge thanks to Yao Ming for his dedication to protecting our animal friends.

And setting a really high bar for post-career accomplishments during my retirement years.

Cheers! GIF via "Downton Abbey."

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.

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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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."