These kids are using technology to turn their prosthetics into a superhero's dream.

If you could give yourself a superpower or a superhero-style gadget, what would it be?

I always say I'd want to be a shapeshifter or have a car that could shape-shift à la the Batmobile because I like pretending to be other things.

It's a fun question to ask friends because it gets everyone to think outside the box and have a good time being creative.


Now consider this: What if you could take those ideas and actually make them functional? (Who else's inner comic nerd just perked up?)

That's the idea behind Superhero Boost — a weeklong workshop where disabled kids get to create their own superpowers in the form of wearable devices.

One kid's light-up prosthetic. All photos by Autodesk/Blue Bergen, except where noted, used with permission.

The workshop was launched in 2014 by Kate Ganim and has since turned into an intensive series of workshops that help kids harness their inner designer and/or engineer.

"We aim to create a space for kids to celebrate the bodies that they're in and to re-think their disability as a super-ability," writes Ganim in an email.

However, she stresses that it's not about trying to "fix" these kids. Many of them were born without a limb or part of a limb; because those were never there in the first place, the kids don't feel like they're missing anything. Instead, it's about helping them create something cool and unique that they're proud to show off.

"Why does it have to be a hand, when it could be literally anything and it could do things that a natural hand isn't able to do?" asks Ganim.

What's more, the kids get to make their body modification using state-of-the-art technology like 3D modeling, robotics, and Google artificial intelligence technology — with the help of trained experts, of course.

Since 15-year-old Sydney's a competitive BMX rider, she updated her arm prosthetic so that it lights up to intimidate competitors.

Photo courtesy of Andrea Howard.

This was her second year doing the workshop, and since she's now quite proficient in 3D printing, she was asked to be a mentor as well as an inventor during the June Superhero Boost workshop in San Francisco.

"The thing that I like as a parent is that they want kids to think on their own and be themselves," says Audrey, Sydney's mom.

Sydney's currently ranked seventh in her state in her age group for BMX, and her handle bar was custom made to support her prosthetic, so she wanted to make it stand out in a major way. When she learned Google engineers were going to be at the workshop teaching kids how to incorporate AI, she knew that had to be part of her design.

Thanks to help from Google engineers and staff from both Superhero Boost and Autodesk, the company that held the workshop and offered up their plethora of tech tools, she got her modification to work by the end of the week.

"The [engineers] are like little kids," remarks Sydney. "It's quite fun. They get so excited."

Meanwhile, 16-year-old Kenzie created something entirely different — a robotic arm sleeve with a glowing gem that even Iron Man would envy.

Kenzie actually came up with the idea at a one-day workshop she did with Superhero Boost in Boston, near her hometown, but she really got to flesh it out during the most recent weeklong workshop in San Francisco.

While in the end, it wasn't totally what she'd envisioned, it still looked pretty darn cool.

"I was like, 'It's going to have to shoot something or do something,'" says Kenzie. "It ended up just lighting up. It did a thing — not a fantastic thing — but it did something."

She devised the whole modification on the computer in something called Tinkercad, a computer-aided design (CAD) program that allows you to 3D print your creations. Kenzie had to do some futzing with the voice control aspect of the project, which initially failed to function correctly, but eventually she and her engineer helper figured it out.

This experience is about much more than making awesome gadgets, though: It's also helping these kids see that they really can do anything they set their minds to with technology at their disposal.

Kenzie and Sydney working at the Superhero Boost workshop.

For example, Kenzie was blown away by a wheelchair booster that her friend Anaiss made — it literally lifts her wheelchair higher, which is not only super cool, but also legitimately useful.

These kids are also taking skills with them that will likely be instrumental in whatever career they end up choosing.

Kenzie, for one, is looking to go into toy design, and thanks to the workshop, she's already connecting the dots to that dream. "One lady at the end was talking about how she's going to be working on this augmented reality project, and that she wanted to work with me on that," she says.

What's more, everyone who participated gets to keep working with a professional designer on their prototypes to make them as cool as they can be.

But while all these tools are great, the real superpowers come from the kids themselves.

The kids from the most recent Superhero Boost workshop.

"By nature, these kids are incredibly creative and determined," writes Gamin. "They're having to adapt every day to an environment that was not designed for them, and it's on them to figure out how to adapt."

However, since the most formidable beings are the most adaptable, there's no doubt these kids are going to be unstoppable.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Wikiimages by Pixabay, Dr. Jacqueline Antonovich/Twitter

The 1776 Report isn't just bad, it's historically bad, in every way possible.

When journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones published her Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project for The New York Times, some backlash was inevitable. Instead of telling the story of America's creation through the eyes of the colonial architects of our system of government, Hannah-Jones retold it through the eyes of the enslaved Africans who were forced to help build the nation without reaping the benefits of democracy. Though a couple of historical inaccuracies have had to be clarified and corrected, the 1619 Project is groundbreaking, in that it helps give voice to a history that has long been overlooked and underrepresented in our education system.

The 1776 Report, in turn, is a blaring call to return to the whitewashed curriculums that silence that voice.

In September of last year, President Trump blasted the 1619 Project, which he called "toxic propaganda" and "ideological poison" that "will destroy our country." He subsequently created a commission to tell the story of America's founding the way he wanted it told—in the form of a "patriotic education" with all of the dog whistles that that phrase entails.

Mission accomplished, sort of.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.