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This doll maker gives every child a custom, handmade doll that looks exactly like them
Photos courtesy of Amy Jandrisevits
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Growing up, the kinds of toys you play with can make all the difference. When I was a child, I always felt like the way I looked was wrong because there were no dolls, cartoon characters, or actresses that looked like me. Thankfully, things are changing. Bigger companies like Mattel are now producing dolls in different shapes, genders, and skin tones.

But gaps in the market still exist, especially for kids with special needs, physical disabilities, and skin disorders. That's where Amy Jandrisevits comes in. With her A Doll Like Me line, Amy makes it her personal mission to make custom dolls for kids who typically don't see themselves on store shelves. For some of these children, seeing themselves in human likeness is life-changing.

Photo courtesy of Amy Jandrisevits

As a former pediatric oncology social worker, Amy used play therapy in order to help children adjust to situations that felt out of their control. This was difficult to do when none of the dolls she had access to looked like the children she worked with.

"Play therapy is how kids work through all of that, and dolls are an integral part of the process," Amy says. "For someone who doesn't have the privilege of seeing him or herself in the places that matter, a doll that looks like them can be so validating."

Amy's childhood love of dolls combined with her passion for social work have allowed her to turn her A Doll Like Me campaign into a nonprofit, something she never could have imagined. She's sure that her 8-year-old self would be thrilled at the thought of using dolls to change a narrative for so many children.

Photo courtesy of Amy Jandrisevits

"I am a doll-maker who feels that every child, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, medical issue, or body type, should look into the sweet face of a doll and see their own," she writes on the GoFundMe page for her project. "I talk a lot about changing the narrative, changing who we see and how we see them. Imagine what representation and inclusion look like from a child's perspective. When they see themselves in the places that matter, that becomes an inclusive message, and that is what shapes a child's self-concept. Diversity and representation in dolls can be a game changer for children."

Amy is doing her part to make sure every child – ones with limb differences, albinism, cancer, birthmarks, scars, burns – feels valued. Her goal is to normalize, represent, and validate, and at a very basic level, to offer something that is soft and cuddly and provides comfort when a child needs it most.

Photo courtesy of Amy Jandrisevits

To date, Amy has made over 450 dolls and every single story is as heartwarming as the next. Dolls are typically requested by parents or caregivers, but in recent years, Amy has received requests from doctors and teachers, because they realize the therapeutic value in play. And thanks to its nonprofit status and donations from GoFundMe, not one family has had to pay for their own doll.

"Sometimes I know that the child who is about to receive the doll is living on borrowed time and when he or she dies, this is going to be even more important for their family."

Amy says that she never takes this doll-making opportunity for granted and she often uses her platform to talk about what inclusion and representation look like for a child. She believes that it is her personal obligation to advocate for the children that she is privileged to know.

"We all bring a skillset to the table and we need to understand that sometimes small gestures impact other people in ways we cannot begin to fathom. We have a multitude of reasons to NOT do something – 'I'm too busy, broke, old, young, sick, afraid' – but there are even more reasons why we CAN, and should, do something."

Photo courtesy of Amy Jandrisevits

Donate to Amy's GoFundMe and help a child see themselves as they are through a hand-crafted doll.

Helping someone in need is as easy as a click away. Check out our fundraising toolkit and start a GoFundMe that gives back to your community.

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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