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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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The incredible reason this inspiring teacher started collecting tires for her students.

True
Nike's Made to Play

Tucked away in a remote village in the Fujian province of China, there is a school that is home to more than twice as many tires as students. And for good reason.

Lin with her students. All photos via Nike.

Tires dot the playground outside of the white, three-story Xianling Primary School — and it is surprisingly beautiful. Some tires are piled on top of each other, while others are tied loosely together. Most have been painted colorfully and are covered with cartoon characters.


While the scene may be unusual, it turns out these tires are there to let the kids explore their creativity, play, and be active. Because the tires come in all sizes and shapes, they can be assembled in multiple ways, enabling students to turn them into hula hoops, vaulting horses, swings, and even wheelbarrows. And as an added bonus: they don't cost the school anything at all.

"People lovingly call us 'the tire school,'" says PE teacher Meizhen Lin, who "discovered," almost by accident, this unconventional learning tool for her students.

Lin first got the idea eight years ago, when she began teaching at the school.

With limited funding and little equipment for sports, PE "classes" consisted of running around the playground with no real direction. This was partly because the school had never really had a PE teacher before.

Lin with her students.

The student body at Xianling Primary Schoolis mostly made up of "left-behind children" — kids who live in rural areas with extended family while their parents work in urban centers.

"I am also from around Zianling, [so] I understand the difficult time these kids are going through," says Lin.  

Lin's father is a farmer and had barely earned enough to support his four kids, but he recognized that Lin was good at sports, so he worked extra hours so that she could go to college and earn a degree in physical education. Thanks to her dad's efforts and her hard work in school, Lin graduated college with a Bachelor’s degree in her chosen field in 1999, and started working as a PE teacher at the school.

However, because Xianling Primary School is located in such a remote area, it was not a prestigious posting for the newly qualified Lin — she wasn't sure if she'd like teaching there.

It didn't take her long to see herself in the kids though. In fact, teaching them made her recognize how fortunate she was to have broken the cycle of rural life. Now she was in a unique position to maybe help them do the same.

Lin cleaning and prepping old tires.

During one class, Lin remembers asking her students what their favorite toys were — but instead of a bunch of excited responses, all she got was total silence.

Her heart sank. Most of her students’ families simply couldn’t afford to buy any toys for their kids.

It was in that moment that Lin became determined to find a way to help these kids learn (and love) to play, using whatever resources she could find.

Later that same day, when driving home from work, she spotted a kid playing with an abandoned tire on the street. Thinking this might be a dangerous place for him to play, she pulled over and tried to persuade the kid to stop.

“The kid said, ‘But I like it, it's super fun to play with,’” Lin recalls.

That chance encounter gave her an idea.

“I couldn’t sleep that night. I kept thinking about what I could possibly do with the tires, if kids liked them so much.”

Lin started collecting abandoned tires from auto-repair shops in her village. She rolled the tires to the school, carefully cleaned them up, and then turned them into things that she could use in her PE classes, like a wheelbarrow.

To make the wheelbarrow, she used big, thick truck tires from trucks, put small wheels on the bottom and then attached elastic string on the sides. This way, one student could sit in the hollow of the tire while another student dragged it along by the string.

“My kids love the tire wheelbarrow I made them,” she says proudly. “They literally spring out of the classroom when the bell rings just to get to it.”

One of Lin's students riding in a tire wheelbarrow.

Since she started turning tires into toys, Lin's students smile a lot more. They’re also becoming more physically active and are becoming physically stronger.

“Kids used to not be able to stay in the sun for more than 20 minutes without complaining,” says Lin. “Now our 40-minute PE class feels like a breeze."

In fact, her creations are such a hit that the students are now helping Lin find more tires — and other reusable objects, such as water bottles and old clothes — around town to work with. The kids are also involved in each step of making new innovations — from designing and engineering to decorating.

Lin’s great work hasn't gone unnoticed. This year, she was one of 100 PE teachers in China who won Nike’s Active Schools Innovation Award.

This award, which was bestowed on her by Yao Ming, China’s legendary basketball player and former Houston Rockets team member, is given to PE teachers like Lin, who bring innovation to sports in schools. Speaking shortly after receiving the award, Lin could barely contain her excitement.

“I still can’t believe a bunch of tires brought me this honor,” she said.

Meizhen Lin with Yao Ming at Nike's Active Schools Innovation Award. Photo via Nike.

Her efforts earned her fame in her hometown and all across China. Nike created a short film of her teaching in school, which racked up 3 million views within just a few hours of being posted on Chinese social media.

But her new-found local fame won’t divert Lin from her passion to help her students find joy in sport and play.

When Lin first arrived at Xianling Primary school, she had only planned to work there for two years in order to meet the requirements needed to get a promotion and a new job elsewhere. But now, she has no intention of leaving.

“I just don’t think any promotion could compare with these kids," she says. It is clear that she still has a few more tricks up her sleeve for getting the kids moving.

Ileah Parker (left) and Alexis Vandecoevering (right)

True

At 16, Alexis Vandecoevering already knew she wanted to work in the fire department. Having started out as a Junior Firefighter and spending her time on calls as a volunteer with the rest of her family, she’s set herself up for a successful career as either a firefighter or EMT from a young age.

Ileah Parker also leaned into her career interests at an early age. By 16, she had completed an internship with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, learning about Information Technology, Physical Therapy, Engineering, and Human Resources in healthcare, which allowed her to explore potential future pathways. She’s also a member of Eryn PiNK, an empowerment and mentoring program for black girls and young women.

While these commitments might sound like a lot for a teenager, it all comes down to school/life balance. This wouldn’t be possible for Alexis or Ileah without attending Pearson’s Connections Academy, a tuition-free online public school available in 31 states across the U.S., that not only helps students get ready for college but dive straight into college coursework and get a head start on career training as well.

“Connections Academy allowed me extensive flexibility, encouraged growth in all aspects of my life, whether academic, interpersonal, or financial, and let me explore options for my future career, schooling, and extracurricular endeavors,” said Ileah.

A recent survey by Connections Academy of over 1,000 students in grades 8-12 and over 1,000 parents or guardians across the U.S., highlights the importance of school/life balance when it comes to leading a fulfilling and successful life. The results show that students’ perception of their school/life balance has a significant impact on their time to consider career paths, with 76% of those with excellent or good school/life balance indicating they know what career path they are most interested in pursuing versus only 62% of those who have a fair to very poor school/life balance.

Additionally, students who report having a good or excellent school/life balance are more likely than their peers to report having a grade point average in the A-range (57% vs 35% of students with fair to very poor balance).

At Connections Academy, teens get guidance navigating post-secondary pathways, putting them in the best possible position for college and their careers. Connections Academy’s College and Career Readiness offering for middle and high school students connects them with employers, internships and clubs in Healthcare, IT, and Business.


“At Connections Academy, we are big proponents of encouraging students to think outside of the curriculum” added Dr. Lorna Bryant, Senior Director of Career Solutions in Pearson’s Virtual Learning division. “While academics are still very important, bringing in more career and college exposure opportunities to students during middle and high school can absolutely contribute to a more well-rounded school/life balance and help jumpstart that career search process.”

High school students can lean into career readiness curriculum by taking courses that meet their required high school credits, while also working toward micro-credentials through Coursera, and getting college credit applicable toward 150 bachelor’s degree programs in the U.S.

Alexis Vandecoevering in her firefighter uniform

Alexis, a Class of 2024 graduate, and Ileah, set to start her senior year with Connections Academy, are on track to land careers they’re passionate about, which is a key driver behind career decisions amongst students today.

Of the students surveyed who know what career field they want to pursue, passion and genuine interest is the most commonly given reasoning for both male and female students (54% and 66%, respectively).

Parents can support their kids with proper school/life balance by sharing helpful resources relating to their career interests. According to the survey, 48% of students want their parents to help them find jobs and 43% want their parents to share resources like reading materials relating to their chosen field.

While teens today have more challenges than ever to navigate, including an ever-changing job market, maintaining school/life balance and being given opportunities to explore career paths at an early age are sure to help them succeed.

Learn more about Connections Academy’s expanded College and Career Readiness offering here.

Pop Culture

Here’s a paycheck for a McDonald’s worker. And here's my jaw dropping to the floor.

So we've all heard the numbers, but what does that mean in reality? Here's one year's wages — yes, *full-time* wages. Woo.

Making a little over 10,000 for a yearly salary.


I've written tons of things about minimum wage, backed up by fact-checkers and economists and scholarly studies. All of them point to raising the minimum wage as a solution to lifting people out of poverty and getting folks off of public assistance. It's slowly happening, and there's much more to be done.

But when it comes right down to it, where the rubber meets the road is what it means for everyday workers who have to live with those wages. I honestly don't know how they do it.


Ask yourself: Could I live on this small of a full-time paycheck? I know what my answer is.

(And note that the minimum wage in many parts of the county is STILL $7.25, so it would be even less than this).

paychecks, McDonalds, corporate power, broken system

One year of work at McDonalds grossed this worker $13,811.18.

assets.rebelmouse.io

This story was written by Brandon Weber and was originally appeared on 02.26.15

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Joy

Family posts a very chill note to neighbors explaining why their dog is on the roof

“We appreciate your concern but please do not knock on our door.."

via Reddit

Meet Huckleberry the dog.

If you were taking a stroll through a quiet neighborhood and happened to catch a glance of this majestic sight, you might bat an eye. You might do a double take. If you were (somewhat understandably) concerned about this surprising roof-dog's welfare, you might even approach the homeowners to tell them, "Uh, I'm not sure if you know...but there's a...dog...on your ROOF."

Well, the family inside is aware that there's often a dog on their roof. It's their pet Golden, Huckleberry, and he just sorta likes it up there.


To put passersby at ease and ebb the parade of concerned parties knocking on their door, Huckleberry's human put up a note explaining the whole weird scenario to those interested:

pet tricks, Reddit, animals, #hucktheroofdog

There’s a dog on the wooof!

via Reddit

It reads:

"Huckleberry is living up to his name and learned how to jump onto our roof from the backyard. We never leave him in the backyard without someone being at home. He will not jump off unless you entice him with food or a ball!""

We appreciate your concern but please do not knock on our door... we know he's up there! But please feel free to take pictures of him and share with the world! #hucktheroofdog."

Of course, they ended it with a hashtag for photos shared on social media. Also, it seems a little strange that the owners mention that Huck is willing to jump 10 feet off a roof to chase food or a ball, but do nothing to suggest that people refrain from urging their dog to make that (seemingly dangerous) leap. Maybe Huck's got the whole process down to the point it's just not a concern.

This may seem like a pretty odd phenomenon, but not so odd that there isn't a whole corner of Reddit devoted to dogs who just seem to really, really enjoy roofs. It's called r/dogsonroofs, and boy does it ever deliver on that name.


This article originally appeared on 12.05.18

Democracy

This Map Reveals The True Value Of $100 In Each State

Your purchasing power can swing by 30% from state to state.

Image by Tax Foundation.

Map represents the value of 100 dollars.


As the cost of living in large cities continues to rise, more and more people are realizing that the value of a dollar in the United States is a very relative concept. For decades, cost of living indices have sought to address and benchmark the inconsistencies in what money will buy, but they are often so specific as to prevent a holistic picture or the ability to "browse" the data based on geographic location.

The Tax Foundation addressed many of these shortcomings using the most recent (2015) Bureau of Economic Analysis data to provide a familiar map of the United States overlaid with the relative value of what $100 is "worth" in each state. Granted, going state-by-state still introduces a fair amount of "smoothing" into the process — $100 will go farther in Los Angeles than in Fresno, for instance — but it does provide insight into where the value lies.


The map may not subvert one's intuitive assumptions, but it nonetheless quantities and presents the cost of living by geography in a brilliantly simple way. For instance, if you're looking for a beach lifestyle but don't want to pay California prices, try Florida, which is about as close to "average" — in terms of purchasing power, anyway — as any state in the Union. If you happen to find yourself in a "Brewster's Millions"-type situation, head to Hawaii, D.C., or New York. You'll burn through your money in no time.

income, money, economics, national average

The Relative Value of $100 in a state.

Image by Tax Foundation.

If you're quite fond of your cash and would prefer to keep it, get to Mississippi, which boasts a 16.1% premium on your cash from the national average.

The Tax Foundation notes that if you're using this map for a practical purpose, bear in mind that incomes also tend to rise in similar fashion, so one could safely assume that wages in these states are roughly inverse to the purchasing power $100 represents.


This article originally appeared on 08.17.17

Pop Culture

Listen to this organ in Croatia that uses the sea to make hauntingly beautiful music

It's a 230-foot-long organ that turns the rhythm of the waves into actual music.


In 2005, a Croatian architect designed a 230-foot-long organ that turns the rhythm of the waves into actual music.

Nope, not nonsensical bellows or chaotic tones. Real, actual, music.


Most of us have never seen, or heard, anything like it.

Imagine walking along the picturesque Adriatic Sea, treading lightly on a set of white stone steps as a cool breeze rolls past.

Carved into the steps are narrow channels that connect to 35 organ pipes, each tuned to different meticulously arranged musical chords.

As the waves lap against the steps, they push air through the pipes and out whistle-holes in the surface above, making a harmonious and completely random musical arrangement.

But you don't see what's happening below the surface. You close your eyes and all you hear is a song like you've never heard before, one completely unique to the movement of the sea at that exact moment.

Take a listen: Here's what it sounded like at one particular moment, on one particular day. On any other day, it might sound completely different.

(Hit the orange button to hear it.)

Pretty amazing, right?

The Sea Organ, or the Morske Orgulje, is an incredible feat of architecture designed to bring life back to one of the world's oldest cities.

Photo by Lisa/Flickr

assets.rebelmouse.io

Zadar, a 3,000-year-old city on the coast of Croatia, was almost completely destroyed in World War II –– so many of its ancient landmarks lost forever. Years after a rebuilding that featured lots of plain, concrete structures, award-winning architect Nikola Bašić was brought in to bring some delight back to the coastline.

That's when he came up with the idea.

No doubt he was inspired by the hydraulis — a nifty little instrument built by the ancient Greeks that used water to push air through tuned pipes — or even the Wave Organ in San Francisco — a set of curved tubes built in the 1980s that amplify the gurgles and howls of the Pacific Ocean.

But the intricate design of the Sea Organ is what sets it apart and makes it truly something to marvel at.


This article originally appeared on 11.06.15

Pop Culture

A comic about wearing makeup goes from truthful to weird in 4 panels.

A hilariously truthful (and slightly weird) explanation of the "too much makeup" conundrum.

Image set by iri-draws/Tumblr, used with permission.

A comic shows the evolution or devolution from with makeup to without.

Even though I don't wear very much makeup, every few days or so SOMEONE...

(friends, family, internet strangers)

...will weigh in on why I "don't need makeup."


Now, I realize this is meant as a compliment, but this comic offers a hilariously truthful (and slightly weird) explanation of the "too much makeup" conundrum.

social norms, social pressure, friendship, self esteem

“Why do you wear so much makeup?"

Image set by iri-draws/Tumblr, used with permission.

passive aggressive, ego, confidence, beauty

“See, you look pretty without all that makeup on."

Image set by iri-draws/Tumblr, used with permission.

expectations, beauty products, mascara, lipstick

“Wow you look tired, are you sick?"

Image set by iri-draws/Tumblr, used with permission.

lizards, face-painting, hobbies, hilarious comic

When I shed my human skin...

Image set by iri-draws/Tumblr, used with permission.

Not everyone is able to turn into a badass lizard when someone asks about their face-painting hobbies. Don't you kinda wish you could? Just to drive this hilarious comic all the way home, here are four reasons why some women* wear makeup:

*Important side note: Anyone can wear makeup. Not just women. True story.

Four reasons some women* wear makeup:

1. Her cat-eye game is on point.

mascara, eyes, confidence

Her cat-eye game is on point.

Via makeupproject.

2. She has acne or acne scars.

acne, cover up, scarring, medical health

She has acne or acne scars.

Via Carly Humbert.

3. Pink lipstick.

lipstick, beauty products, basics, self-expression

Yes, pink lipstick.

Via Destiny Godley

4. She likes wearing makeup.

appearance, enhancement, creative expression

Happy to be going out and feeling good.

Happy Going Out GIF by Much.

While some people may think putting on makeup is a chore, it can be really fun! For some, makeup is an outlet for creativity and self-expression. For others, it's just a way to feel good about themselves and/or enhance their favorite features.

That's why it feels kinda icky when someone says something along the lines of "You don't need so much makeup!" Now, it's arguable that no one "needs" makeup, but everyone deserves to feel good about the way they look.

For some people, feeling good about their appearance includes wearing makeup. And that's totally OK.


This article originally appeared on 05.28.15