​They laughed when she wanted to bring yoga to a prison. Then they saw the results.
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Even as a child, Kathryn Thomas knew she wanted to be a helicopter pilot.

After watching a helicopter demonstration at 11, her dreams were set in motion. Thomas earned her wings of gold in 2009, certifying her as a U.S. naval aviator.

But while on deployment, Thomas broke her ankle and later suffered complications. She was told she'd never fly again.


All images via Upworthy/Facebook.

The experience of a long recovery and exit from the Navy left Thomas depressed and anxious. She turned to yoga.

So much of her identity was wrapped up in her military career. Practicing yoga helped Thomas find some relief and a sense of purpose after life in the Navy.

"I started to practice yoga, and that’s really what changed my outcome because I was able to find myself again on my mat," she said.

After discovering the restorative power of yoga, Thomas started Yoga 4 Change to help others who've experienced trauma.

The Northeast Florida nonprofit serves four distinct populations: young people experiencing abuse or trauma; military veterans; people struggling with substance abuse or in recovery, and incarcerated individuals. Professional yoga teachers lead the classes in schools, rehabilitation centers, correctional facilities, and community spaces at no cost to the participants.

And it's not just learning poses. Classes focus on empathy, optimism, gratitude, vulnerability, and more. It's truly a moment to reconnect with the body, mind, and spirit.

"I support Yoga 4 Change 110%. It’s definitely changed my life for the better. It’s opened my eyes to a dimension of spirituality that I had never acknowledged before," said Alan Calkins, a former inmate who's now in training to be a Yoga 4 Change teacher.

Calkins (center) participates in a session.

Thomas turned to yoga to help her recover. Now, Yoga 4 Change has helped more than 15,000 people do the same.

Hear her story and see why participants like Alan Calkins owe so much to the program.

She's bringing yoga to those who need it most, but don't have access.

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, October 4, 2017
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

When the COVID-19 pandemic socially distanced the world and pushed off the 2020 Olympics, we knew the games weren't going to be the same. The fact that they're even happening this year is a miracle, but without spectators and the usual hustle and bustle surrounding the events, it definitely feels different.

But it's not just the games themselves that have changed. The coverage of the Olympics has changed as well, including the unexpected addition of un-expert, uncensored commentary from comedian Kevin Hart and rapper Snoop Dogg on NBC's Peacock.

In the topsy-turvy world we're currently living in, it's both a refreshing and hilarious addition to the Olympic lineup.

Just watch this clip of them narrating an equestrian event. (Language warning if you've got kiddos nearby. The first video is bleeped, but the others aren't.)

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