True
Expedia+

If you follow "Game of Thrones," you know some scenes call for some pretty remote — not to mention freezing — locations.

I know, Jon Snow. I know. GIF via "Game of Thrones."

They look pretty majestic on screen, but one ice-cold location in particular looks even cooler in real life.


This is Vatnajökull, the largest glacier mass in all of Europe.

All images via Mikael Buck, used with permission.

Pretty spectacular, right? I mean, look at this place!

These incredible images were taken by British photographer Mikael Buck, who was the first to capture these stunning caves from the inside using a special sensor technology.

And he had to go through quite the trek just to get there.

"Accessing the best caves requires a two-hour hike each way over the glacier. To do this, you need to rope up to your hiking partners, carry an ice axe and wear crampons," Buck wrote in an email.

A local guide, Einar Rúnar Sigurðsson, made the journey possible and helped Buck go deep into the glacier in order to access the most impressive ice caves.

Because the caves can only be accessed during winter — daylight hours are limited — they had to race time to get the images Buck wanted and get back while it was still light.

But when Buck actually set foot inside the ice caves, it was pure magic.

"Entering the caves for the first time, you step into a dark hole and suddenly you are in an alien landscape. It was unlike anything I've seen before and the colours are just as vivid in real life as in the images," wrote Buck.

"The shapes and textures where the water has slowly eroded parts of the ice are amazing. If we had the time I could have happily spent hours in there staring at all the cracks and crevasses."

The caves presented some unusual challenges though.

"Inside the ice caves themselves, things can get very claustrophobic," Buck added. "At one point I was on my hands and knees crawling under the ice above in order to get to another part of the cave."

"Game of Thrones" filmed in the surrounding areas and not inside the actual caves (maybe because they would look better for an alien movie). But even if they had, the cave they would've shot then is different from the way it looks today.

You see, the appearance of Vatnajökull is constantly changing.

"Each summer, the ice moves and new caves form and old ones collapse and are never seen again," explained Buck. "The caves themselves are formed where water runs off from the surrounding slopes and into the sides of the glacier."

The sheer magnitude and beauty of these ice caves put things into perspective for Buck.

"It was an awe inspiring trip and an experience I won't be forgetting in a hurry," he said.

"As with any trip to somewhere so wild and remote, the concerns of life in the city and the world of work seem pretty trivial on your return."

As beautiful as these morphing formations may be, they may not be around forever.

Glaciologist Oddur Sigurðsson has been very outspoken about the significant shrinking that Icelandic glaciers have undergone in the past 20 years. The culprit? You guessed it: climate change.

"The caves themselves are not formed as a result of climate change, but the glacier itself is rapidly retreating," noted Buck. "Our guide pointed out the distance the glacier had retreated in his lifetime and it was quite staggering."

At the current rate the world is going, these glaciers may be completely wiped out in 200 years.

That means we would lose one of Earth's most amazing natural wonders just like that.

These images are breathtaking, but they also paint a bigger picture.

Fortunately, some necessary steps are being taken to save these marvels for future generations. The Kolviður Fund, for instance, has made it their mission to reduce CO2 emissions in Iceland by improving their forest ecosystems. By planting more trees strategically, they hope to offset the CO2 emissions generated by cars and flights and preserve the glaciers.

And works such as Buck's photo series are able to shine a light on this important cause. By spotlighting just how magnificent these remote locations are, people can better understand their value to the world and just how worth saving they really are.

So yes, winter may be coming. But in this particular case, we hope it's here to stay.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

via Pexels

If you know how to fix this tape, you grew up in the 1990s.

There are a lot of reasons to feel a twinge of nostalgia for the final days of the 20th century. Rampant inflation, a global pandemic and political unrest have created a sense of uneasiness about the future that has everyone feeling a bit down.

There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

But, you gotta admit, that TV is still pretty damn good.

A lot of folks feel Americans have become a lot harsher to one another due to political divides, which seem to be widening by the day due to the power of the internet and partisan media.

Keep Reading Show less

Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Actor Matthew McConaughey is known for being a bit of a philosopher. He played up the persona a few years back in a series of commercials where he pontificated while behind the wheel of a large Lincoln.

"Taking care of yourself takes care of more than just yourself. That's the sweet spot,” he said in one ad. "Sometimes you gotta go back to actually move forward,” he mused in another.

McConaughey’s philosophizing isn’t limited to TV commercials. He keeps the party going on Twitter where he regularly posts videos of himself discussing everything from journaling to how he’s arrived at his unique perspectives.

On May 16, he made a bold claim in a video that some may not agree with but it actually has a strong footing in science. In a video where he’s sitting on a lawn chair, McConaughey says that the word “unbelievable” should be removed from the dictionary.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo from Upworthy Library

A proud sloth dad was caught on camera.

Teddy the two-toed sloth has become a proud papa and thanks to a video posted by the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, we all get to witness the adorable reunion with his newborn son.

Mama sloth, aka Grizzly, gave birth to their healthy little one in Feb 2022, which delighted more than 3,000 people on Facebook.



The video, posted to the Florida zoo’s YouTube page, shows Grizzly slowly climbing toward her mate, who is at first blissfully unaware as he continues munching on leaves. Typical dad.

Keep Reading Show less