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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.

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Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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Sandy Hook school shooting survivors are growing up and telling us what they've experienced.

This story originally appeared on 12.15.21


Imagine being 6 years old, sitting in your classroom in an idyllic small town, when you start hearing gunshots. Your teacher tries to sound calm, but you hear the fear in her voice as she tells you to go hide in your cubby. She says, "be quiet as a mouse," but the sobs of your classmates ring in your ears. In four minutes, you hear more than 150 gunshots.

You're in the first grade. You wholeheartedly believe in Santa Claus and magic. You're excited about losing your front teeth. Your parents still prescreen PG-rated films so they can prepare you for things that might be scary in them.

And yet here you are, living through a horror few can fathom.

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