Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.
Elaine Hamel founded Girls at Work, Inc. in 2000 because to her, empowerment isn't just a buzzword but a way of life. Their mission is to challenge traditional norms and normalize girl power, focusing specifically on uplifting and supporting inner city girls between the ages of 8 and 18, who need stability, safety, and confidence.
The girls attending summer camps or after-school programs work in groups and learn how to problem solve, communicate, and use tools to build something practical. Hamel believes that learning how to use power tools shows the girls that they can do anything they put their minds to, better preparing them for a bright future.
Photo courtesy of TD Bank
Elaine's forward-thinking, positive leadership, and passion for the community is exactly why TD Bank chose to honor her for the 2022 #TDThanksYou campaign, a North American campaign demonstrating the bank’s gratitude and commitment to their customers by celebrating, recognizing, and thanking unsung heroes in exciting and meaningful ways. Hamel is one of six honorees recognized this year and was presented with power tools and gift certificates to purchase additional items needed to enhance the program.
Hamel understands what it feels like to hear the word “can’t.” Growing up, she struggled to find her place in a world that seemed to be built by, and for, men. As a kid she loved to “create or fix things” and always found something to tinker with. Before long, she discovered not only did she enjoy building and repairing things, but she was very good at it.
She spent the next several decades breaking down the multitude of barriers that a woman pursuing a career as a general contractor faced in the 1980s and 1990s.
“It was really brutal when I first started out in construction,” Hamel said. “The men were so cruel. But I grew up with five brothers and I was used to it. I told myself I’d be the boss one day…and now I am.”
Photo courtesy of TD Bank
The process of learning how to become stronger and more confident in her natural abilities sent her career soaring, and drives her life’s work—empowering girls to take up space and take control of their own lives.
“These are kids who grapple with neglect, food insecurity, and extreme poverty,” said Hamel. “They’re not soaring in school because they’re in survival mode. They’re hungry and unable to focus and learn.” Hamel’s solution is a fully stocked food pantry, where the girls can shop for groceries before heading home. Girls at Work, Inc. also has a “kindness closet,” stocked with clothing, shoes, outerwear and other items.
After addressing their immediate needs, the girls are ready to get to work. “There are many programs out there devoted to teaching trades and skills to girls,” said Hamel, “But this is about learning how to think critically and problem solve. Pushing through that is what actually empowers them.”
Photo courtesy of Girls at Work
The nonprofit is a vital part of the community, relying heavily on donations and volunteers to keep it going. For example, a club of retired men volunteer their time to pre-cut the lumber for Girls at Work, Inc.'s projects. The girls use that lumber to create things—like picnic tables, benches, and birdhouses—which in turn are donated to local organizations.
Hamel says she’s built with over 20,000 girls so far, and her goal is to hit one million. Her dream is to secure funding to open up new locations to serve even more communities and says that watching these girls' step into their power and believe in themselves is what keeps her moving forward. The world needs more heroes like her.
To learn more about this year's #TDThanksYou heroes, visit https://www.td.com/us/en/about-us/customers/humans-with-heart
This article originally appeared on 02.25.21
Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.
As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.
Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.
The child was sent to the office for refusing to remove his hat in class. "So, I sat down with him and asked him why, what was going on," Smith told WRTV. "He said he just got his haircut, he didn't like the way it looked, and he thought his hairline look a little funny."
Having a haircut that's a little off can be like waving a red flag at middle school bullies. So, Smith decided to fix the situation by offering the child a haircut.
"I've been cutting hair most of my life. I played college basketball and I cut my teammates' hair before games and I've been cutting my son's hair for 17 years so I had professional clippers and edgers at home, so I said, 'If I go home and get my clippers and line you up, will you go back to class,' and he said, 'Yeah, I will,'" Smith said.
A photo of the cut was posted to Facebook where it's been seen over 21,000 times.
After Smith fixed the child's hairline, the student kept up his end of the bargain and returned to class.
"You know that age is a time for peer acceptance. It's huge. And So a young man, especially an African-American young man the barbershop is a big deal in the community. Looking good a representing and presenting yourself is huge for kids," Smith said.
A few days later, Smith posted a photo on Facebook of some memorable cuts he's given in the past. "Who knew a skill that helped me survive in college would be useful 20 years later?" he captioned the post.
via Jason Smith / Facebook
Smith saw the situation as a way to help the child in the moment instead of having to resort to disciplinary actions. From the child's perspective what's worse -- being ridiculed in front of your peers or having a parent get angry?
"We're not disciplining with a hard fist. You could call and have the parent pick up the kid up for defiance. Or you can sit and get to the root of the problem and see what can I do to help you? What do you need right now?" Smith said.
Imagine what the world would be like if more people simply asked each other, "What do you need?"
"He really was not trying to get out of class. He just thought that he would be laughed at. So, we took the time and did what we could to help him," Smith said.
Smith recently posted a quote by professor Brené Brown on Facebook that serves as a great reminder of the practical power of solving problems at the root through compassion and direct action. "Leaders must either invest a reasonable amount of time attending to fears and feelings, or squander an unreasonable amount of time trying to manage ineffective and unproductive behavior."
How we can create equity for all communities?
Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.
Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.
Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)
This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.
To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.
This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.
After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”
“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”
Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).
As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.
Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.
“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”
"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/
The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.
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'Shoebert' has definitely made an impression on the town.
Animals can be just as cheeky as toddlers and their cheeky actions usually result in unexpected sass and raised eyebrows. A town in Massachusetts became the temporary home to a grey seal that the citizens nicknamed "Shoebert" after he was found in Shoe Pond in Beverly. If you're wondering how a seal wound up in the pond, you're not the only one. No one knows exactly how the savvy seal made his way to the pond but he hung out there for a few days somehow evading efforts to catch him so he could be relocated.
Seals don't really belong in freshwater and the little guy had been out of the ocean long enough as it was. But to everyone's surprise, Shoebert was ready to go back to the type of water he belongs in so he turned to the people you call when you're in trouble: the police. The seal flopped and waddled his way to the Beverly Police Department before changing his mind once he saw the fuzz. When the 4-year-old seal was spotted by a police officer, he turned around and attempted to run away for a second time, quickly scooting and hopping on his flippers.
The sight of Shoebert realizing the police were onto him was quite hilarious. You'd think the seal had a warrant out for his arrest, but where would they put the handcuffs? Thankfully, the seal was caught after the officer called for backup. It took lots of teamwork from the Beverly Police Department, Fire Department, Animal Control, NOAA and International Fund for Animal Welfare, but eventually they got Shoebert safely relocated. Check out the video below.
What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?
Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?
Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.
Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.
“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”
Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
“I wish he hadn't got that disease.”
“I wish he hadn't been affected by the exhaustion of his role.”
One of Ledger's most notable roles is queer cowboy Ennis Del Mar in Ang Lee's iconic 2005 romantic western drama "Brokeback Mountain." In a time when queer storytelling was still taboo, Ledger's honest and compassionate portrayal broke down a lot of barriers for future stories.Though Ledger officially died due to an overdose, many believe it was his role of The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” that pushed him over the edge.
Joplin would be 79.
“I wish she hadn't sought the inspiration she needed elsewhere.”
The powerful singer with electric stage presence is still one of the greatest female rock stars of all time. Scratch that—one of the greatest rock stars of all time, period.
Hendrix would be 80.
“I wish he hadn't sought the inspiration he needed elsewhere.”
“I wish he hadn't faced vitiligo.”
However questionable his personal life was, the King of Pop made some of the biggest contributions to music of all time. People continue to sing his songs, and likely will for a very, very long time.
Cobain would be 55.
“I wish he had decided to stay.”
Lee would be 81.
“I wish he hadn't taken that painkiller that day.”
“I wish he hadn't been in New York that day.”
Legendary artist and activist John Lennon was fatally wounded by a gunshot in December 1980. The last thing he talked about, revealed ex-wife Yoko Ono in an interview, was the desire to see his son before he went to sleep.
Presley would be 87.
“I wish he decided to live a life where he paid more attention to the health of his heart.”
Had Presley not died of cardiac arrest, he would be 87 this year.
“I wish he hadn't been involved in that event that would cause him to face the mafia.”
The cause of Tupac’s untimely death is also one of debate and speculation. According to some, he never died at all. What we can all agree on—he was one of hip-hop's most iconic figures.
This one seems to be a new addition to the collection, so no wistful message. Although I’m sure the general sentiment is “I wish she were still here.”
AI-generated art is a controversial topic, to be sure. Some consider it a new, innovative medium. Others see it as devoid of any real creativity at all, as it’s produced by a machine, rather than a human. Many are concerned that, as is the case with many jobs that get machine automated, it will threaten the livelihood of actual illustrators.
Those concerns are certainly valid, but perhaps there’s a balance to be found here, as Yesiltas seems to have accomplished. Previously, another artist similarly created stunningly lifelike portraits of cartoon characters from “Encanto” and ”The Simpsons.” These works still required the human touch, and were carefully crafted over time rather than cracked out in mere seconds, as is the case with a lot of AI art.
At its best, AI art helps remind us, as Yesiltas puts it, that "anything imaginable can be shown in reality.” Which, at the end of the day, could be said for any art.