This genius addition to schools has attendance up and bullying down.
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Whirlpool

Imagine you’re a teacher in a school that’s riddled with problems.

Many of your students act out, against you and against each other. Some kids don’t show up at all. Those who do try to apply themselves are struggling to focus and are falling behind.

All of these problems have solutions, but you’re only one person. You can’t afford to give each child the personalized care and attention they need to fix their individual issue.


So what do you do?

One surprising tool could solve a lot of students’ problems: a washing machine.

A lack of clean clothes is one of the most common problems among families with kids who are struggling in school.

All photos courtesy of Whirlpool.

“There are students that are being bullied because of the clothing that they're wearing,” says Emily Edwards, a social worker at an elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee.

“You want them to think about, ‘Am I accomplishing good work in my math class?’” says Christina Deering, who teaches third grade. “You don't want them to be thinking, ‘I hope I'm not too close to you because I might smell.’”

Not having clean clothes distracts kids in class — and it sometimes keeps them out of school entirely. Absences add up and, ultimately, contribute to bigger academic problems that become harder to fix.

At this Nashville elementary school, the administration found a solution to the laundry problem.

“The Care Counts™ program installs washers and dryers in schools to improve attendance by giving kids access to clean clothes,” says Edwards. The school now has a washer and dryer on school property, and parents can come use them free of charge.

Watch and see how kids' lives are already improving thanks to their new laundry facilities:

Whirlpool Care Counts

No child should have to be teased because they don't have clean clothes.

Posted by Upworthy on Tuesday, November 28, 2017

For many of the students, it’s changed everything.

“The students here, they have a confidence about themselves more than other students who maybe don’t have clean clothes,” says Deering. A study of all schools who have the Care Counts™ laundry program showed that 90% of students who make use of it improved their attendance.

Though it may seem like students’ happiness, focus, behavior, and attendance are all separate issues, they’re all problems that can be helped by adding clean clothes.

It also helps administrators provide resources beyond laundry to families in need.

Typically educators notice a problem and recommend the Care Counts™ laundry program to parents. But sometimes, it's the program that alerts the school to larger issues.

“There have been families that I didn't know were experiencing issues at home and that I'd seen were using the washer and dryer,” says Edwards. “And so that kind of opens up a conversation of, ‘It's great that you're using this resource. What else can we do to help you?’”

The school's new laundry facilities have also helped open up a dialogue around issues facing many of the students' families.

“In our classroom, we've talked about how 7 out of 10 of us are at or below the poverty line,” says Harris. “That means that there are 7 out of 10 of us that have really difficult things often that go on at home, things that are out of our control.”

Talking about that helps the kids feel more comfortable asking for help when they need it. “When they walk in the building and know that they're 7 of 10, that there's not a stigma attached to that,” Harris says. “It's love for one another and it's a support of one another and there’s less shame involved.”

With the washing machine in place, kids will hopefully build better relationships, do better in school, and be able to establish a foundation for a successful future. They're free to stop worrying about their clothes and focus on what counts: being a kid.

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.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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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."