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This heartbreaking fact about the #MissingDCGirls should concern all of us.

An alarming number of young black girls are missing in the nation's capital. The whole country should be paying attention.

This heartbreaking fact about the #MissingDCGirls should concern all of us.

You've likely read many stories recently pouring out of Washington about health care, Russia, and Supreme Court justices.

You probably haven't, however, read as many about the staggering number of black girls reported missing in D.C. in the past few months.

It'd make sense if you haven't — there's been virtually no news covering it.


Just this year, D.C. has 22 unsolved cases of missing youths — most of them involving black and Latinx teens — as of March 22, the Associated Press reported.

Fortunately, alarm bells are beginning to ring far beyond the capital, as people ask the same question many neighborhoods in D.C. have been voicing for a while now: Why doesn't anyone care about this?

Image via iStock.

The news, which is finding viral traction online through the hashtag #MissingDCGirls, was further pushed into the spotlight this week when members of the Congressional Black Caucus called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey to devote resources to the matter.

"Ten children of color went missing in our nation's capital in a period of two weeks and at first garnered very little media attention," CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond wrote. "That's deeply disturbing."

Emotions boiled over at a March 22 town hall meeting, as one girl asked officials through her tears, "Why?"

“We got to get worried about somebody trying to take us and we can’t even live our life without somebody trying to put their hands on us,” she pled into the microphone, an adult comforting her at her side.

The number of young people of color in D.C. vanishing without adequate media coverage is disturbing. But it doesn't quite tell the whole story, according to social justice activist DeRay Mckesson.

“What’s most startling about [the high number of missing black girls] is that this is not a spike," Mckesson explains. "It’s a continued trend.”

D.C. police confirmed Mckesson's assertion. There hasn't been an unusual increase in missing children in Washington in 2017 — what has changed is the police department's new push to publicize information on missing children via social media. Naturally, the move has brought more attention to the issue than in years past.

What's happening in D.C. highlights another disturbing trend happening all over America.

Missing black girls — and missing people of color, in general — are often overlooked by the media.

Research shows that a disproportionately high number of black youths go missing, but news coverage devoted to their disappearances is lacking compared to their white peers, Ebony reported. It's even worse when you look solely at black girls and women.

Why the discrepancy? Throughout our society, whiteness has been deemed normal — the standard — while anything non-white becomes the "other" and is therefore seen as less important. Mckesson explains, “That bias exists in the media as well."

In other words, as activist Shaun King wrote for The Daily News, missing people of color "don't get the Elizabeth Smart or Natalee Holloway treatment."

It's just another way institutionalized racism and implicit bias affects our way of life.

Image via iStock.

The fact so many people are suddenly alarmed by what's happening in D.C. reflects, among other things, the persistent lack of awareness around missing black and brown people, Mckesson says. It also points to how many of us are quick to dismiss the realities of human and sex trafficking here in the U.S. (Although D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser reported no evidence linking the missing girls to trafficking, some advocates, including the Black and Missing Foundation, aren't so sure.)

Reversing institutionalized racism in our media is admittedly a daunting task, but you do have the power to make a difference.

Learn more about why missing people of color are marginalized in our media. Speak out if you see this injustice happening in your own community. And make sure to share the names and faces of those who need our help by using platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Shining a light on this problem and helping those in need is the best way to ensure progress, Mckesson says. “There’s no better answer than visibility."

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.

The Schmidt family's Halloween photoshoot has become an annual tradition.

Two of Patti Schmidt's three sons were already well into adulthood when her daughter Avery was born, and the third wasn't far behind them. Avery, now 5, has never had the pleasure of close-in-age sibling squabbles or gigglefests, since Larry, Patrick, and Gavin are 28, 26, and 22, respectively—but that doesn't mean they don't bond as a family.

According to People.com, Patti calls her sons home to Point Pleasant, New Jersey, every fall for a special Halloween photoshoot with Avery. And the results are nothing short of epic.

The Schmidt family started the tradition in 2017 with the boys dressing as the tinman, the scarecrow, and the cowardly lion from "The Wizard of Oz." Avery, just a toddler at the time, was dressed as Dorothy, complete with adorable little ruby slippers.

The following year, the boys were Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca, and Avery was (of course) Princess Leia.

In 2019, they did a "Game of Thrones" theme. ("My husband and I were binge-watching (Game of Thrones), and I thought the boys as dragons would be so funny," Schmidt told TODAY.)

In 2020, they went as Princess Buttercup, Westley, Inigo Montoya, and Fezzik from "The Princess Bride."

Patti shared a video montage of each year's costume shoot—with accompanying soundtracks—on Instagram and TikTok. Watch:

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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."