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.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via Texas State Senate and The ACLU

There has been a tidal wave of anti-trans legislation proposed over the past few months in the U.S. At least 17 states are now considering restricting anyone under the age of 18 from transition-related care.

Texas is currently debating two anti-trans bills. Once would criminalize parents for allowing their children to receive gender-affirming treatments. Another would criminalize healthcare professionals who administer them.

For a state that prides itself on promoting personal freedom, these bills go out of their way to punish medical professionals and parents for making deeply personal choices. Shouldn't doctors and parents have the right to make medical decisions for children without the state's involvement?

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less