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Growing up, NFL star Joe Haden took one request from his parents to heart: "Protect your brother, Jacob."

It was a commitment that came to light back in 1998, when he was just 9 years old. Jacob, who was only 4 at that time, nearly drowned in a swimming pool.

Luckily, Joe was there to save him.


"Honestly, I didn't think for one second that he was gone," Joe told ESPN, which recently profiled the 26-year-old athlete. "I just wouldn't let myself even get to the thought."

GIF via ESPN.

Joe has always been a protective older brother to Jacob, who has a cognitive disorder.

In fact, they're each others' "#1." Jacob, whose disorder impairs his speech, gave Joe the nickname because Joe was born first. But Joe considers Jacob his #1 because he's a source of inspiration — on and off the field.

"Life wouldn't be the same without him," Joe told ESPN. He plays cornerback for the Cleveland Browns.

"That's kind of why, when I play, I play so hard, and I play with so much passion, emotion. Because I love the game and know my man, Jake — he can't do it. ... I'm playing for the both of us."

Inspired by his brother, this year Joe became the first NFL player to be named a Special Olympics global ambassador.

Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images.

The recognition has allowed Joe to bring visibility to people with disabilities during the 2015 Special Olympics, taking place July 25 through Aug. 2, 2015, in Los Angeles.

"Growing up, my brother had the opportunity to participate in the Special Olympics movement and through my involvement, I learned first-hand the tremendous value of playing sports with, and learning from, people with intellectual disabilities," Joe said in a statement.

The role has given him the opportunity to speak out on one word in particular that hits close to home.

Joe hasn't beaten around the bush when it comes to his thoughts on the R-word.

The word "retarded," which originated as a clinical description for a person with an intellectual or developmental disability, has devolved into slang often used to demean someone's intellect. Clearly, there's no reason to use the outdated term today.

That's no news to Joe. He made his take on the word very clear when he chatted with ESPN in July 2015:

(In case you're still wondering if there are certain situations in which the R-word is appropriate to use, this handy flow chart should help you out.)

Joe's message is part of a growing movement to end the R-word.

An online initiative launched in 2009, Spread the Word to End the Word, has garnered more than 570,000 signatures in support of eliminating "the derogatory use of the R-word from everyday speech." You can pledge your support here.

Thanks to groups like Spread the Word to End the Word and people like Joe, hearts and minds are changing.

A little bit of brotherly love can spark a lot of good.

GIF via ESPN.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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RumorGuard by The News Literacy Project.

The 2016 election was a watershed moment when misinformation online became a serious problem and had enormous consequences. Even though social media sites have tried to slow the spread of misleading information, it doesn’t show any signs of letting up.

A NewsGuard report from 2020 found that engagement with unreliable sites between 2019 and 2020 doubled over that time period. But we don’t need studies to show that misinformation is a huge problem. The fact that COVID-19 misinformation was such a hindrance to stopping the virus and one-third of American voters believe that the 2020 election was stolen is proof enough.

What’s worse is that according to Pew Research, only 26% of American adults are able to distinguish between fact and opinion.

To help teach Americans how to discern real news from fake news, The News Literacy Project has created a new website called RumorGuard that debunks questionable news stories and teaches people how to become more news literate.

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Family

A mom describes her tween son's brain. It's a must-read for all parents.

"Sometimes I just feel really angry and I don’t know why."

This story originally appeared on 1.05.19


It started with a simple, sincere question from a mother of an 11-year-old boy.

An anonymous mother posted a question to Quora, a website where people can ask questions and other people can answer them. This mother wrote:

How do I tell my wonderful 11 year old son, (in a way that won't tear him down), that the way he has started talking to me (disrespectfully) makes me not want to be around him (I've already told him the bad attitude is unacceptable)?

It's a familiar scenario for those of us who have raised kids into the teen years. Our sweet, snuggly little kids turn into moody middle schoolers seemingly overnight, and sometimes we're left reeling trying to figure out how to handle their sensitive-yet-insensitive selves.


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