These organizations are planting trees to combat the "urban heat island effect" in Richmond
Photo courtesy of Capital One
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America's urban areas are often known as concrete jungles due to their abundance of asphalt and lack of parks and natural grassy areas. These neighborhoods are often populated by low-income, communities of color because of discriminatory lending practices known as redlining. These policies, which date back to the 1930s, were put in place to reinforce racial segregation and reallocate city funds to white neighborhoods.

Redlining policies perpetuated inequality that was not only economic but environmental as well.

The buildings, roads, and unnatural infrastructure that make up urban areas absorb and re-emit the sun's heat more than natural landscapes. This turns urbanized areas into "heat islands" that experience warmer temperatures than greener, less populated neighborhoods.

Richmond, Virginia's urban heat islands can reach temperatures as much as 20 degrees warmer than the greener areas of the city. Heat islands look to become an even greater problem in the coming years as extreme temperature shifts caused by climate change become more common.

To help create green space in heat-island communities, Capital One is supporting the Arbor Day Foundation and Groundwork RVA with $75,000 in grant funding to plant and distribute roughly 300 trees in affected neighborhoods across Richmond.


"Greenspace and access to fresh food [are] vital to the communities we serve. We are proud to work with Groundwork RVA and the Arbor Day Foundation to help address those needs here in Richmond," said Andrew Green, Director of Capital One's Office of Environmental Sustainability.

Together, the three organizations will strive to improve green infrastructure in three areas that have been identified as some of the hottest, least-resourced in Richmond.

Photo courtesy of Capital One

"That coalition is working hard to use resources to mitigate the disparate impacts that those communities have had," says Rob Jones, Executive Director of Groundwork RVA. "There's an open conversation in Richmond about how to ameliorate inequities that stem from the direct connection between the discriminatory practice of redlining and the communities impacted by urban heat island effect today."

The effort began, appropriately, on Earth Day in April of this year when Groundwork RVA's Green Team and Green Workforce — cohorts of Black and Brown high school students and recent graduates in Richmond — created a volunteer event to plant 50 fruit trees at Sankofa Community Orchard to enhance food access in the city.

The Earth Day project also distributed 50 shade trees to residents.

Members of the Green Team and Green Workforce plan to plant the remaining 250 trees by the end of the year, focusing on neighborhoods in Southside Richmond that have a lot of concrete and a real lack of shade.

The volunteers are also building and maintaining green infrastructure in a variety of ways, including the development of rain gardens, rain capture systems, and permeable pavement.

Several of Groundwork RVA's participants live in Richmond's Hillside Court housing project. Volunteers are looking to plant trees in the community to work in tandem with its recently launched mini-farm project to help address the food desert.

"It's so surreal to see how we can take empty places and turn them into a spot for people to grow food and enjoy the space," says Darquan Robertson, a Groundwork RVA Green Workforce participant and Hillside Court resident. "I want people in this community to feel like this space is meant for them."

Photo courtesy of Capital One

Over on Richmond's Hull Street, the goal is to cool down the neighborhood by filling many of the area's vacant tree wells with high-quality, shade-producing trees.

Through support from Capital One and the Arbor Foundation, Jones says that Groundwork RVA will be able to purchase equipment, such as a watering truck, needed to sustain its efforts to support the growth of each tree during the two years that follow planting.

"We're thankful to receive funding from Capital One and the Arbor Day Foundation to plant more trees and build healthier neighborhoods," Jones said. "This work is not only vital for our communities today but the survival of future generations, especially as we tackle climate change."

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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Every mom has made a face like that.


In a video recently released by The Dodo—the beloved source of all sweet animal things—a female raccoon is spotted peeking her little eyes and paws from inside a public trash bin.

It’s the kind with a top lid, making it her private cave. Meaning anyone who comes close is a trespasser. She aggressively swipes at anyone who dares approach.

The man taking the video is a professional animal rehabilitator of some sort and clearly knows what’s up. He’s seen warning passersby to “don’t go near there! There’s a raccoon in there!”

Despite the handler’s smooth talking and gentle maneuvering, Miss Raccoon is not happy as she wriggles and screeches. But still, she is successfully removed from her post.

And then, small chirps continue from the bin…

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"Veteran" mom and "new" mom parent differently.

When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

But soon, reality sets in and if they have more kids, they'll probably be raised with a lot less attention. As a result, first-born kids turn out a bit differently than their younger siblings.

"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

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