Upset her son wasn't getting cast in ads, she posted his photos online. They went viral.

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.

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.

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

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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."