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
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
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
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.
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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:
"Answer: I have been precisely where you are, right now. In fact, we were just talking about this a few days ago, as it relates to a guy who wrote a ton of music that was PROFOUND to me when I was a teenager. He wrote about being lonely and feeling unloved, and all the things I was feeling as a teenager.
He grew up to be a reprehensible bigot, and for years I couldn't listen to one of the most important bands in my life anymore.
But this week, someone pointed out that he was one member of a group that all worked together to make that thing that was so important to me. And the person he was when he wrote those lyrics is not the person he is today. And the person I was when I heard those lyrics doesn't deserve to be shoved into a box and put away, because that guy is a shit.
This is a long way of saying that Joss sure turned out to be garbage. Because of who my friends are, I know stuff that isn't in the public, and it's pretty horrible. He's just not a good person, and apparently never was a good person.
BUT! Buffy is more than him. It's all the actors and crew who made it. It's all the writers who aren't Joss. Joss is part of it, sure, and some of the episodes he wrote are terrific.
At least one of the episodes he wrote was deeply meaningful to you at a moment in your life when you'd experienced a loss I can only imagine. The person you are now, and the 16 year-old you were who just lost their dad, are more important than the piece of shit Joss Whedon revealed himself to be.
His bad behavior is on him. He has to live with it, and the consequences of it.
16-year-old you, who just lost their dad, shouldn't have to think about what a shit Joss Whedon is for even a second. That kid, and you, deserve to have that place to revisit when you need to go there.
I can't speak for the other actors, even the ones I know. But I will tell you, as an abuse survivor myself who never wanted to be in front of the camera when he was a kid: it's really okay for you to enjoy the work. The work is good and meaningful, and if nobody is going to watch it because of what one piece of shit did two decades ago, what was it all for?
I'm not the pope of chilitown, so take this for what it's worth: I believe that when some piece of art is deeply meaningful to a person, for whatever reason, that art doesn't belong to the person who created it, if it ever did. It belongs to the person who found something meaningful in the art.
If it feels right to you to put it away and never look at it again, that's totally valid. But if it brings you comfort, or joy, or healing, or just warm familiarity to bring it out and spend some time with it, that's totally valid, too.
I've written a lot of words. I hope some of them make sense and are helpful to you."
As with practically everything in this world, the question of whether art can or should be separated from the artist is complex. It involves philosophical questions about the nature of art—where it comes from and who it belongs to—as well as questions about how imperfect a person has to be for us to reject everything they create. Wheaton's response feels right, especially when we're regarding art that is collaboratively created.
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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."
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