What's keeping kids from doing well in school? In some cases, it's clean clothes.
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Whirlpool

T.J. Kirk hates the laundromat. What kid doesn't?

“The laundromat wastes my time,” he says. He thinks it’s boring. They have TVs, but they're never playing anything he wants to watch.

T.J. is in the third grade, and when he has homework, the laundromat gets in the way. “I can’t bring it because I can’t focus,” he says.


But even though he hates the laundromat, he prefers it to the alternative.

All photos via Whirlpool.

“At least we’re getting clothes cleaned to wear for school,” T.J. says.

When his family’s dryer broke, T.J.’s mom tried to use the laundromat whenever they could afford it — but often, T.J. found himself going to school in wet clothes or clothes he’d worn before. And when kids spot stains, they can be cruel.

"When the teacher isn't around, they say, 'There's something nasty on your shirt.' And they start laughing," T.J. says.

Laundry can have a much bigger impact on kids’ lives than we realize.

Just watch how it affected T.J.’s life to go without clean clothes and how his life changed when he had access to laundry again.

For many people, laundry is nothing but a chore. For kids without clean clothes, however, it's a constant concern.

“People at school are supposed to wear clean clothes,” T.J. says. When a child knows they’re in dirty clothes, they behave differently — feeling more self-conscious, less focused, and less confident in themselves.

When his family was without a dryer, T.J. was always thinking about making sure his clothes stayed clean. “If we’re going somewhere that has messy food, I put not good clothes on,” he says. “Something that sort of looks good, but not really.” He did his best to avoid messes and stains, to make sure his clothes stayed clean for a second wear.

But for T.J., life just isn’t as fun when he’s not allowed to get messy.

“We play soccer, play on the monkey bars, go to the swings,” he says. He loves sports and art, nature and the environment. He likes looking for snakes and caterpillars and buried treasure in the dirt. And now that there’s a washer and dryer in the school, T.J. can do all the things he loves without worrying about his clothes.

“When I put a clean shirt on,” he says, “It makes me feel happy because I don’t have to go to school with a shirt that I don’t like.”

One of T.J.’s biggest concerns is that other kids get the same access that he has to clean laundry.

After all, getting dirty is no fun without friends to do it with. “Something that I like about soccer,” he says, “is that you have teammates. Because if you don’t have teammates, how can you make a goal?”

That’s why he wants to see more schools get washers and dryers, like his. “We’re helping people who will come to school with dirty clothes,” he says. “So they don’t get picked on by their friends.”

And it's not just kids who benefit from having laundry access in schools — it brings the whole community together too.

"Now that our community knows that we have this, everyone is starting to be involved with our school," says T.J.'s mom, Monica. "Seeing that change is just amazing."

With laundry in schools, kids are more confident, communities are closer, and schools are a better place to be. And, perhaps best of all, fewer kids like T.J. have to wait around boring laundromats.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less