These backpacks are making a world of difference to kids with autism.

A uniquely designed backpack is helping change lives.

Zach has been pretty rough on his backpacks, according to mom.

“I would probably say we’ve gone through three or four backpacks in the last three years," Krista Bau explained. Her son has autism, so wearing a backpack — and keeping it in good shape — hasn't always been the easiest throughout his time in school.

But Zach's new blue backpack has been a big help.


GIF via Nesel Packs/Kickstarter.

Zach is one kid who's benefitted from a Nesel Pack — a backpack uniquely designed to benefit kids who have autism.

The backpack, created by students at the University of Minnesota, has special features that make wearing it much more convenient and comfortable. And it's helping kids like Zach succeed in school.


Photo by Jerry Holt, Star Tribune.

Many kids on the autism spectrum have sensory input issues, which can make them feel overwhelmed by stimuli like light, sound, and touch. Wearing a weighted vest can provide a sense of calm for many of these kids, according to National Autism Resources. So the Nesel Pack has pockets where parents can easily store weights.

The backpack also comes with hip and hugging chest straps to give kids an extra sense of security and comfort, as well as clips for sensory tools.


Photo by Nesel Packs/Kickstarter, used with permission.

The Nesel Pack is designed with durability in mind too, with a bottom that's made out of ballistic fabric (what you'd find on bulletproof vests) and waterproof material that's often used in military and hunting bags. So keeping it in tip-top shape shouldn't be a problem.

Since the backpack's launch, the students in Minnesota have seen a remarkable response to their product.

Since they launched a Kickstarter on March 19, 2016, for parents and supporters to purchase the packs, the group has already exceeded their fundraising goal of $10,000 — in less than one week.

The whole concept of Nesel Packs came out of a class assignment for an entrepreneurship course. But it's turned into something so much more.

Photo by Nesel Packs/Kickstarter, used with permission.

Martha Pietruszewski, the team lead and CEO of Nesel Packs, said she knew the group was really on to something when she got en email from Australia regarding the product.

"I don't know anybody in Australia," she told Upworthy, noting the team started receiving orders before the Kickstarter even launched.

For the Kickstarter campaign, Nesel Packs partnered with Fraser — a Minnesota-based group that provides services to folks with autism — to help supply backpacks to the kids who could use them.

That partnership has been huge in making Nesel Packs a success, Pietruszewski said: "We were all just happy to have someone believe in us and believe that this product will change lives."


Photo by Nesel Packs/Kickstarter, used with permission.

For every $100 donation to the campaign, Fraser provides a backpack to a child in need. Any interested parent looking to purchase one for their child can buy one for $115.

The Nesel Pack team understands that may be a hefty price tag for many families, so they're working on getting it down.

"In order to get this bag into as many hands as possible, we would like to lower the cost," the Kickstarter reads. "We hope that this Kickstarter will be successful so that for our next production run, the bags will be produced at a lesser cost."

One of the coolest things about Nesel Packs? The benefits aren't just for kids with autism.

The design and accessibility of the backpack may also help kids with anxiety issues, ADHD, or dyslexia, Margaret Semrud-Clikeman of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Pediatrics told the Star Tribune.

“The child would know that it’s theirs," she explained. "It’s safe and I think that’s the most important thing, that things are safe.”

Although Nesel Packs reached its initial fundraising the goal, the team has set the bar higher.

"The more that we are funded, the more backpacks we are able to give to those in need," the page explains.

And that means more kids like Zach will feel ready to take on the day.

GIF via Nesel Packs/Kickstarter.

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Women around the world are constantly bombarded by traditional and outdated societal expectations when it comes to how they live their lives: meet a man, get married, buy a home, have kids.

Many of these pressures often come from within their own families and friend circles, which can be a source of tension and disconnect in their lives.

Global skincare brand SK-II created a new campaign exploring these expectations from the perspective of four women in four different countries whose timelines vary dramatically from what their mothers, grandmothers, or close friends envision for them.

SK-II had Katie Couric meet with these women and their loved ones to discuss the evolving and controversial topic of marriage pressure and societal expectations.

SK-II

"What happens when dreams clash with expectations? We're all supposed to hit certain milestones: a degree, marriage, a family," Couric said before diving into conversation with the "young women who are defining their own lives while navigating the expectations of the ones who love them most."

Maluca, a musician in New York, explains that she comes from an immigrant family, which comes with the expectation that she should live the "American Dream."

"You come here, go to school, you get married, buy a house, have kids," she said.

Her mother, who herself achieved the "American Dream" with hard work and dedication when she came to the United States, wants to see her daughter living a stable life.

"I'd love for her to be married and I'd love her to have a big wedding," she said.

Chun Xia, an award-winning Chinese actress who's outspoken about empowering other young women in China, said people question her marital status regularly.

"I'm always asked, 'Don't you want to get married? Don't you want to start a family and have kids like you should at your age?' But the truth is I really don't want to at this point. I am not ready yet," she said.

In South Korea, Nara, a queer-identifying artist, believes her generation should have a choice in everything they do, but her mother has a different plan in mind.

SK-II

"I just thought she would have a job and meet a man to get married in her early 30s," Nara's mom said.

But Nara hopes she can one day marry her girlfriend, even though it's currently illegal in her country.

Her mother, however, still envisions a different life for her daughter. "Deep in my heart, I hope she will change her mind one day," she said.

Maina, a 27-year-old Japanese woman, explains that in her home country, those who aren't married by the time they're 25 to 30, are often referred to as "unsold goods."

Her mom is worried about her daughter not being able to find a boyfriend because she isn't "conventional."

"I really want her to find the right man and get married, to be seen as marriage material," she said.

After interviewing the women and their families, Couric helped them explore a visual representation of their timelines, which showcased the paths each woman sees her life going in contrast with what her relatives envision.

SK-II

"For each young woman, two timelines were created. One represents the expectations. The other, their aspirations," Couric explained. "There's often a disconnect between dreams and expectations. But could seeing the difference lead to greater understanding?"

The women all explored their timelines, which included milestones like having "cute babies," going back to school, not being limited by age, and pursuing dreams.

By seeing their differences side-by-side, the women and their families were able to partake in more open dialogue regarding the expectations they each held.

One of the women's mom's realized her daughter was lucky to be born during a time when she has the freedom to make non-traditional choices.

SK-II

"It looks like she was born in the right time to be free and confident in what she wants to do," she said.

"There's a new generation of women writing their own rules, saying, 'we want to do things our way,' and that can be hard," Couric explained.

The video ends with the tagline: "Forge your own path and choose the life you want; Draw your own timeline."

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