This football player is stepping up to help break the taboo behind people's periods.
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NFL

When my sister used the words "free bleeding," I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about.

Rachel had started an organization called Kitty Packs to help eradicate free bleeding in the homeless community, and she wanted my support. The only problem? I really didn't know what "free bleeding" was.

My name is Joshua Garnett. I’m an offensive guard for the San Francisco 49ers. I bleed all the time. And I was a human biology major at Stanford too, so blood and the human body are subjects I’m pretty familiar with. But this one had me stumped, so I asked Rachel to sit down and explain to me what it was all about.


Joshua Garnett is an offensive guard for the San Francisco 49ers. Photo via the San Francisco 49ers.

Free bleeding, as it turns out, is what happens when a person with their period can’t access pads or tampons. They’re forced to either come up with an unhealthy alternative or bleed on themselves.

That's why Rachel created Kitty Packs: to provide packages of sanitary items to people who can’t afford or can’t access them on their own. And as soon as she explained it to me, I was in.

Photo via iStock.

But why had I never heard of free bleeding until my sister created an organization to combat it?

I’m not a prudish guy. Growing up with a twin sister, I learned early about issues surrounding menstruation, and I’m not uncomfortable talking about it. And yet, it had never occurred to me to think of what people who can’t afford sanitary products do when they get their period.

Photo via Joshua Garnett, used with permission.

The reason I’d never heard of free bleeding is simple: People don’t want to talk about it. In fact, people don’t want to talk about periods at all — especially cisgender men. But the problem with that is that when people don’t talk about these important issues, they never learn about people who need their help. Problems like free bleeding fly under the radar.

That has to end.

Football players are thought to be about as manly as it gets. So I’m here to tell you: It’s not un-manly to talk about menstruation.

There are a lot of really inaccurate stereotypes surrounding the idea of what it takes to be a "manly man." Part of that is avoiding topics that seem too feminine, like menstruation. But the fact is that menstruation affects all genders, not just women — people who are gender nonbinary and transgender are affected by it too.

Photo via iStock.

But regardless of what gender a person who menstruates is, it’s never un-manly to care about someone’s well-being. People on their periods have to suffer through a lot — especially if they have to worry about whether they can afford sanitary supplies that month. As a cis man, the least that I can do is try to bring attention and support to that struggle.

That’s why I think it’s so important for me to use my platform and my resources as an NFL player to bring support to Kitty Packs and other organizations combatting free bleeding.

People without the resources to get tampons and pads definitely don’t have the resources to make their voices heard on a national level. But I do — and that’s why I’ve decided to raise my voice to get others involved in helping fight free bleeding in low-income and homeless communities.

There are a few ways you can help.

For one, you can go to your local grocery store and pick up a package of sanitary supplies and drop them off at your local homeless shelter. People often think to donate other things, like food and clothing, but forget about sanitary needs. Donating them whenever you can afford to is a huge help.

Photo via iStock.

In the end, it’s not about men or women. It’s about helping people who need it.

Menstruation has become a gendered topic, but it shouldn’t be. It’s something that affects everyone, whether directly or not. Even if you don’t have a period, someone you love does — and the greater society that you’re a part of is faced with menstruation issues every day. Step up and do your part to help solve those problems.

Joshua Garnett is one of more than 750 NFL players who will lace up for charitable causes as part of the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats initiative. Starting November 28, NFL players will reveal their custom cleats, many of which will be auctioned to raise money for the charitable organizations they support. For more information, visit www.nfl.com/mycausemycleats.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."