This teenage girl's story is proof that you're never too young for a heart screening.
True
Cigna 2017

In fall 2016, Kyli Penner was focused on school, standardized tests, her friends, and her dance team.

All photos courtesy of Kyli Penner, used with permission.

In the fall of 2016, her mom signed her up for a free heart screening through a local program called Play for Patrick.


“It was Halloween,” Kyli remembers. “I had a party that night, and I didn’t really want to take time out of my day to go do it. I didn’t think it was necessary.

But Kyli’s mom was insistent — and it's a good thing she was. The screening would ultimately end up saving Kyli’s life.

Though she was just 15, Kyli had an atrial septal defect — basically, a hole in her heart.

At the Play for Patric screening, doctors discovered Kyli's heart was allowing oxygenated and deoxygenated blood to mix. If allowed to continue, it could become life-threatening. She would need surgery to close up the hole in her heart.

Thankfully, Kyli's condition was minor enough that it could be handled with a minimally invasive surgery. Doctors placed a small metal covering over the defect, and within weeks, Kyli was back to life as usual — dance team and all.

Though the process of finding and treating her condition was scary, Kyli is hugely grateful that she found out about it when she did.

“It’s crazy,” she says. “I didn’t want to go, and then going to this one thing that my mom dragged me to not only changed, but saved my life.”

Sometimes it can seem less overwhelming to ignore problems rather than face them — but for Kyli, getting her surgery when she did may have saved her life. “You don’t just plan to have heart surgery,” she says. “But it’s better to figure that out earlier and to do something about it.”

That's the exactly the point of Play for Patrick, which is the organization that provided the free screening drive that Kyli attended. Patrick Schoonover was 14 when he passed away suddenly from an undetected heart condition. Though his parents couldn't save him, they've dedicated their lives to making sure kids in the area, like Kyli, stay heart-healthy through preventive check-ups.

Now, Kyli's perspective has changed — she's all about preventive health care, and she's spreading her philosophy to her friends and family.

"It kinda gave me a 'why not?' philosophy," she says. "The hour I took out of my day ... was so worth adding years onto my life." Even her friends have adopted her mindset, inspired by Kyli to encourage their own families to get regular check-ups.

Ultimately, Kyli hopes her story moves more than just her own community to get the health care they need to prevent an emergency. "None of us likes to go to doctors' appointments," she says. "But we have to get out of that mindset and jump on opportunities for our health right now."

It can be a struggle to prioritize preventive health care, but Kyli's story shows that no one is above getting regular checks.

It can be easy to assume that if you're young or if you feel healthy, you don't need preventive care.

“As kids or as teenagers, we don’t really think that far ahead. We like to think in the now: what we have for homework, whether we’ll make a varsity sport or something,” Kyli says. “We think health issues are things we have to deal with as we age, but it’s not at all true.”

Kyli's story proves that, no matter how young or athletic someone is, everyone should prioritize preventive health care. It could end up saving your life.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
True

Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

Keep Reading Show less

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.