These kids love yoga — but they call it 'Jackie Chan-ing,' and it's changing their lives.
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In Liberia, hundreds of kids are using Jackie Chan to heal after trauma.

You mean the famous martial artist and actor Jackie Chan?

Well, kind of.


The kids are actually using body movement classes to rebuild trust in their bodies — but they call it "Jackie Chan-ing."

Image courtesy of Playing to Live.

The classes are yoga therapy classes, Playing to Live founder and director Alexis Decosimo explained to me.

"All our programs go through a cultural adaptation process, so ['yoga' or] even 'relaxation' didn't really stick. It ended up being 'We're going to do Jackie Chan-ing.'" Understandably, the idea of learning to be like Jackie Chan is what got the kids most excited about yoga therapy exercises.

Playing to Live is an organization that uses art, play, and yoga therapies to help children from communities affected by Ebola to process what they've been through.

Practicing tree pose. Image courtesy of Playing to Live.

Thanks to a UNICEF grant and local partner RESH, the group is currently working with 900 kids and 40 female Ebola survivors across a few of the most affected Liberian communities.

Yoga therapy helps each kid rebuild a healthy relationship with their body and gently guides them out of trauma response mode.

When you think you might have Ebola, your body is scary — it can even become your enemy, Decosimo said. The reflexive response is to try to disconnect from your body. "But then you're not in control anymore. It goes much deeper than that."

Enter yoga therapy.

Yoga — er, Jackie Chan-ing — forces the kids to focus on something other than trauma. It helps them relax, and it helps their body and brain realize they're not in the trauma anymore.

It also builds self-esteem and healthy body-mind relationships. The "Mountain Dance," for example (a favorite among the kids), is all about standing tall and proud, and being in control.

Kids in Liberia learning the mountain pose. Image courtesy of Playing to Live.

"Everything really is of course fun and playful, y'know, helps children be children," Decosimo added. "The twist that we have is that there is an evidence-based clinical aspect to it."

Playing to Live uses art, play, and yoga therapy to help kids overcome trauma worldwide.

Decosimo says, “We want to build this culturally relevant program that can be extended globally." In fact, they've already started working with kids in South Africa on issues of homelessness.

"What art therapy can do, and play therapy can do," said Decosimo, "is help the child recreate their trauma ... [and] learn how to process it through creating images about it, playing it out, and having a safe place."

Kids participating in Playing to Live art therapy programming. Image courtesy of Playing to Live.

Well, I suppose it's official: Jackie Chan really can defeat any villain. Even the trauma of Ebola.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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