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

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.

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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