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Meagan Nash thought her son, Asher, belonged in magazines.

Asher Nash. Photo by Crystal Barbee.

"I wanted to submit him because he always seemed to like having his picture taken," Nash said. "Anytime I get my phone out, his eyes get big, and he gets this big grin on his face, almost like he knows what's happening."


Nash sent Asher's pictures to a local talent agent that was casting a campaign for the baby brand Carter's.

She was confused when the agent refused to submit them.

Asher has Down syndrome, and Carter's, the agent explained, wasn't calling in children with special needs.

Photo by Crystal Barbee.

Nash insisted. Yes, the company hadn't specified that they were looking for kids with disabilities, but Asher's pictures were good, and Carter's hadn't said they weren't looking for kids like him.  

"My first reaction was he should get the same chance to be accepted or rejected as any other baby," she said.

The agent apologized and agreed to send the photos.

For months, Nash heard nothing. Frustrated, she contacted Changing the Face of Beauty, an organization that works to increase representation of people with disabilities in media and advertising.

Her contact there encouraged her to post Asher's photos online as part of the group's annual campaign.  

Asher and his sister, Addison. Photo by Crystal Barbee.

"The talent industry, first of all, rarely represents people with disabilities, and when they do, they don’t always present because they don’t look at them as 'brown hair, blue eyes child'; they look at them as a disabled child," Katie Driscoll, Changing the Face of Beauty's founder and president, said.

Nash's post with Asher's photos was shared over 126,000 times. A story about the mother and son's campaign appeared on The Mighty.

According to Nash, representatives from OshKosh B'Gosh — a company affiliated with Carter's — messaged her less than an hour after the article was posted.

"They wanted to talk and hear my concerns, so I went over everything from the beginning and told them how it all started," Nash said. "At the end of our conversation, we had set a date for us to come in to meet with them."

Photo by Crystal Barbee.

She and Asher met with representatives from OshKosh recently, and they invited Asher to participate in an upcoming holiday advertising shoot, according to a statement provided by the company.

In the meantime, thanks to the publicity generated by the post, he's already done a shoot for Oball toys — his favorites.

Driscoll explained that while featuring kids like Asher in print ads might seem like a small thing, it can have concrete effects beyond simple representation.

"It also shows retailers and employers that, hey, obviously we’re valuing this community in advertising, we’re speaking to them as consumers, why wouldn’t we consider them for a job?" she said.

For Nash, getting the OshKosh shoot is a victory — a step closer to a world in which her son's talents are evaluated like any other kids' — independent of his disability.

For Asher, the photo shoot is another chance to show off his million-dollar smile.

Photo by Crystal Barbee.

And cash his first paycheck.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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True

You could say Marine biologist, divemaster and National Geographic Explorer Dr. Erika Woolsey is a bit of a coral reef whisperer, one who brings her passion for ocean science to folks on dry land in a fresh, innovative and fun new way using virtual reality.

Images courtesy of Meta’s Community Voices film series

Her non-profit, The Hydrous, combines science, design, and technology to provide one-of-a-kind experiential education about marine life. In 2018, Hydrous produced “Immerse 360”, a virtual underwater journey through the coral reefs of Palau, with Dr. Woolsey as a guide.

Viewers got to swim with sharks, manta rays and sea turtles while exploring gorgeous aquatic landscapes and learning about the crucial role our oceans play—all from 360° and 3D footage captured by VRTUL 2 underwater storytelling VR cameras.


Hydrous then expanded on the idea to develop two more exciting augmented adventures using Meta Quest 2 technology: “Expedition Palau,” a live event where audiences can share a “synchronized immersive reality experience”, which includes live narration from Woolsey, and “Explore,” a “CGI experience” to enjoy the magic of the ocean at home.


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“I’ve been extremely fortunate to explore and study coral reefs around the world,” Woolsey said, sharing that it was “heartbreaking” to see these important habitats decay so rapidly while the latest scientific reports did not clearly lead to widespread compassionate action.

“How do we care about something we never see or experience?” she reflected. As she discovered, virtual reality would be a powerful solution for eliciting empathy. “VR has the ability to generate presence and agency and make you feel like you’re there. It's that emotional connection that can bridge scientific discovery and public understanding”

The combination of virtual reality and the ocean’s natural breathtaking beauty is, as Woolsey puts it, a “match made in heaven” for getting people more engaged in ocean education. “When you’re floating you can look up and down and all around you…seeing a school of fish surrounding you and reefs in these cathedral-like structures. Rather than watching a video of a scientist, you get to become the scientist.”

Hydrous also has special kits to provide middle school students hands-on learning about ocean life. In addition to a journal, activity cards and a smartphone VR viewer, each kit includes lifelike 3D printed model pieces of a coral reef so that middle school students can try building their own.

These reef models even turn white when temperatures rise inside the aquarium, which mimics the real “bleaching” that corals endure when they die due to higher than normal ocean temperatures. Students really do become scientists as they figure out how to bring color back to their reef.

While it’s true that the health of our oceans affects us all, the growing threats our oceans face—pollution, overfishing, climate change—don’t always affect us on an empathetic level. Through the use of technology, Woolsey has created an innovative way to connect hearts and minds to one of the Earth’s most important resources, which can inspire real and lasting change.

“We can’t bring everybody to the ocean, but we’re finding scalable ways to bring the ocean to everyone.”

To learn more about Hydrous, click here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


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