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'We the People' updates Shepard Fairey's 2008 'Hope' poster for the Trump years.

No matter who is in office, hope and change will always be possible.

Artist Shepard Fairey's "Hope" poster is, perhaps, one of the defining images from the 2008 campaign to elect President Barack Obama.

The image, as ubiquitous in 2008 as Donald Trump's red "Make America Great Again" caps were in 2016, inspired optimism for a world no longer defined by political party. Red and blue, the poster signaled a desire for our politicians to work together for a common good. The global recession had just begun, and it would take teamwork from individuals across the political spectrum to help us recover.

Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.


Fairey and five other artists recently teamed up with The Amplifier Foundation to share a new political message for 2017 and beyond, this time no longer centered on any one politician.  

The project, which debuts on Inauguration Day, is titled "We the People" and grapples with the role we play as individuals and groups to stand up for each other. The poster series features work by Fairey as well as Colombian-American muralist Jessica Sabogal, Los Angeles artist Ernesto Yerena, photographer Delphine Diallo, multimedia artist Arlene Mejorado, and Ridwan Adhami.

The Amplifier Foundation's mission is to raise the voices of grassroots movements through art and community engagement.

Images by Ernesto Yerena (left) and Shepard Fairey (right).

On Inauguration Day, the group will take out full-page ads in The Washington Post and distribute copies of the posters throughout D.C.

The message of the series is centered around a feeling of shared humanity and a responsibility to be our best selves in how we treat ourselves and others. The people depicted in the images come from a wide range of backgrounds. The goal is to inspire the viewer to empathize with the subject, no matter how much or how little we may truly have in common with them.

"Anyone that looks at these images can see some amazing humanity in them," said Fairey in an Amplifier Foundation statement. "I couldn’t do anything to compromise this person’s quality of life, any of these people’s quality of life, without it hurting a part of me. I see myself in them."

Images by Victor Garcia (left) and Jennifer Maravillas (right).

As Inauguration Day approaches, it's becoming clear that "we, the people" might be the only thing standing in Trump's way.

From his fiery and often xenophobic campaign rhetoric to his scandal-plagued personal life, Trump's presidential bid flew in stark contrast to everything we've come to expect from elected officials. Countless times, he's stumbled into situations that would have ended campaigns or inspired resignations — and yet, to the shock and horror of many, he emerged victorious.

In the election's wake, a sense of hopelessness hangs over the nation — a shared feeling of despair. In the past, we've looked to individual politicians to save us from the threat of demagogues. To millions of Americans, Obama was that man, that leader. If there's one thing we can learn from Trump's rise, however, it's that perhaps it's time to expel the idea that any one person can protect democracy.

Perhaps instead we look both inward and around. For the next several years, we must instead put our faith in we, the people.

Images by Kate Deciccio (left) and Liza Donovan (right).

But what does "We the People" even mean?

Yes, those are the first three words of our Constitution, but there's a deeper message to be considered.

"We the People will no longer be exiled, excluded, or eliminated from our America," said Sabogal in Amplifier's statement. As someone whose existence encompasses multiple intersections of oppression — being Colombian and being a lesbian — Sabogal feels as though those three words didn't always apply to her.

"'We the People' has traditionally meant 'everybody'; all of us. It was the unifying phrase that America was founded upon," she said. "However, over time, it became very clear that 'We the People' meant 'We the Very Specific Group of People That Get to Decide Things for the Majority of America.' It has meant, 'We the People That Get to Leave Other People Out.' It has meant, 'We White Males.'"

Images by Jessica Sabogal.

We, the people, are stronger than any demagogue. We, the people, can reject a message of hate. We, the people, will still have hope.

To get through the next few years, we'll need more than slogans. "Love Trumps Hate" is a great message — so long as we fight for a world in which love does, in fact, overcome hate. "Hope" and "Change" can only happen if we put in the work needed to change the world. "We the People" can overcome adversity only if we band together.

"During the Bush years, the most prominent voices were those of fear and negativity," Fairey added. "Creating the 'Hope' poster for me was to say, 'Use your voice in a constructive positive way.' There’s a lot more out there than fear, and if we all use our voices we can rise above it."

It's on all of us to make the world a better place. It's up to us what direction this country and this world moves. Do we fight for inclusion, or do we stand down in the name of fear?

Images by Shepard Fairey.

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

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The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

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There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

But, you gotta admit, that TV is still pretty damn good.

A lot of folks feel Americans have become a lot harsher to one another due to political divides, which seem to be widening by the day due to the power of the internet and partisan media.

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Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

Screenshot taken from a live video of the trial.

A recent (and fairly insensitive) sketch from “Saturday Night Live” said it best regarding the widespread fixation many have on the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial:

“It’s not the most pertinent story of the moment, but with all the problems in the world, isn’t it nice to have a news story we can all collectively watch and say ‘glad it ain't me?’”

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Trial Cold Open - SNL www.youtube.com

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Mama sloth, aka Grizzly, gave birth to their healthy little one in Feb 2022, which delighted more than 3,000 people on Facebook.



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