This high school senior is looking ahead, and her sickle cell disease won't hold her back.

At first blush, LaTia Bell is just like any other high school senior.

She likes school, especially science, and keeps her grades up with college applications just around the corner. She just started playing tennis, and in her free time, she likes to read books and learn about sharks — her favorite animal. Like most other students in the U.S., the pressure is on to keep up, stand out, and excel as competition to gain college admission continues to grow more fierce.

What you can't see is that LaTia, despite all of her work ethic and enthusiasm, is chronically fatigued all the time.


When it's cold — and even sometimes when it's not — her entire body is wracked with pain. She misses weeks of school at a time in the hospital. Even though she strives to be like any other girl, LaTia's sickle cell disease prevents that from being possible.

All photos courtesy of LaTia Bell, used with permission.

Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder that can, to put it bluntly, make life hellish.

“It seems I always get sick around the most important dates,” LaTia says, talking about her sickle cell disease like it’s a mischievous imp rather than a painful and difficult disease. “Usually when I’m sick, I miss at least three days of school. So it is really hard.”

Sickle cell disease is a genetic disorder that prevents a person’s red blood cells from becoming flexible, round, and healthy. Instead, they become rigid and crescent-shaped, unable to carry the amount of oxygen the body needs and dying off much faster than healthy blood cells do.

The result is that chronic fatigue LaTia is constantly faced with, along with other symptoms like intense, frequent pain resulting from a lack of oxygen being delivered to key body parts, causing muscles to seize up. People young and old living with sickle cell disease are also susceptible to strokes and infections and have to take medications that can take even more of a toll on the body.

The symptoms of sickle cell disease make even mundane tasks feel like impossible feats. Last year, LaTia missed weeks of school and more than a few tennis competitions because of her sickle cell crises.

But as a patient at the Aflac Center and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where many young people are taught to manage their sickle cell disease, LaTia has been taught to manage her symptoms. It also helps that she has a lot of optimism and drive to do what she loves.

"I don’t really let it hold me back from my dreams and what I love to do," says LaTia.

In spite of the challenges her disease causes, she has her heart set on studying biochemistry in college — knowing full well that stress is one of the primary factors that can trigger her disease and send her to the hospital.

Regardless, she's choosing to aim high. “I want to be a hematologist and a marine biologist,” she says. "I expect it to be very stressful, but I’m just ready to take it on."

LaTia also hopes that she can use her passion for learning and knowledge to someday help other people like her.

There's no cure for sickle cell disease — only developments in pain treatment that can make the disease easier to manage. But she wants to help find a cure.

"Sickle cell doesn't only affect the patients. It affects the families too," she says. "No one in the family likes to see a child suffering from such a terrible disease."

"I'm doing it for the patients and for the families."

Though her disease is beyond her control, so far, LaTia has been able to do everything she wants — it's just more of a challenge.

Supported by the Aflac Center and Blood Disorders Center, with compassionate care and patient education and counseling, she has been able to chase her dreams with confidence.

Heading into her future, she's confident in her ability to keep on accomplishing. "I feel invincible," she says.

Ultimately, she hopes that finding a cure is within her reach. "I do a lot of spreading awareness through social media and things," she says. "I want people to be aware of sickle cell and maybe help make a change."

One thing she's certain of is that she'll be one of the people helping make that change, regardless of the obstacles in her way. "Sickle cell has made me feel down a lot, but you can overcome anything," she says. "That's what I've learned — that anything can be overcome."

To learn more about sickle cell disease or the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, visit choa.org/fightsicklecell.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture