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Nature Valley

Today, Amelia Mayer is known by many as the "Mountain Mama," but when it came to adventures with her own mama growing up, she wasn't into it.

When she was just 1 year old, Amelia's parents took her hiking up the glaciers and mountains surrounding her home in Alaska.

She may have been in the great outdoors often, but young Amelia had to be bribed with strawberries and pieces of chocolate.


All images via Amelia Mayer, used with permission.

Everything changed when she was around 7 years old — the same age her eldest son is now. For the first time, Amelia realized what made the outdoors so magical. She was hiking up "Lazy Pete" — a mountain you have to be anything but lazy to conquer.

"I clearly remember running to the end of it," she says, "and feeling that sense of accomplishment."

That sense of accomplishment went from being afraid and hesitant to a woman who discovered her calling.

As she got older, Amelia's love for the great outdoors only grew stronger — she even hiked and camped after her high school prom.

She'd take any excuse to be outdoors. In college, it became an even bigger part of her life. "I had a quarter where I had classes only two days a week, so I would literally go up to Mount Baker and go snow-shooting three days a week."

Once she started a family with her husband Bill, her passion for the outdoors went to a level she never thought possible.

Bill is a wildland firefighter and, believe it or not, was much more skilled than Amelia when it came to conquering the outdoors. "My husband really challenged me," she says. "To go beyond what I had known before and to get my past my mental limitations."

It's the same mentality they knew they wanted to instill in their kids — Jack (8), Peter (6), Liza (3), and Mara (1). "I want them to be able to feel comfortable enough to surpass even our knowledge," says Amelia. "Seek out something and be able to pass it on to the next generation."

Not many mothers would take on the task of looking after four kids while also keeping an eye out for elk, moose, and bears.

For Amelia, though, it's more like a typical Tuesday afternoon. The full-time mom, who lives in Yellowstone National Park, runs the popular "Tales of a Mountain Mama" blog and spends her days taking her children on epic adventures and offering practical advice for other parents on how to keep family adventures exciting and safe through her online program, "Outdoor Mom Academy."

The coolest part? Amelia's kids are learning the kind of skills that would intimidate most adults.

Whether that's rafting down a river, going cross-country skiing, or in some cases, dealing with wild animals.

In fact, those skills were put to the test when a bear unknowingly entered their campsite on one particular hike. "I turned around and I looked at the tent and literally right by the tent," Amelia explains, "the bear was standing there and my daughter was in the tent."

Immediately, Amelia grabbed her daughter while the family cleared the campsite of any food that might attract more bears and slowly made their way to safety inside their car.

It was an eye-opening moment, but one that Amelia knew her family had the strength and resolve to deal with.

Why? Whether it's a full-day river float or a 12-hour hike, these adventures serve as both confidence boosters and unparalleled family bonding experiences.

There's just something special about the bond created when you take your family off the grid and out of the comfort zone.

"Obviously, the outdoors provides a lot of unexpected challenges," says Amelia. "That's the beauty of it. We're learning those challenges as a family."

The great outdoors will always hit you with challenge after challenge. But when you push past your hesitation, more often than not, you'll surprise yourself.

Tackling tremendous feats in nature has helped her children build confidence at an early age, she says. "Pushing them just enough that they can see their strengths and the things that they can do."

The family continues to grow — it was on a backpacking trip along the Indian Creek Trail that Amelia announced she was pregnant with her fourth child.

Now, she has a fifth on the way, and it hasn't slowed her down.

"With getting outside, a lot of the limitations people put on themselves is the fear of the unknown," she says. "And I think once you get past that … we can really find great freedom in what we can do."

"There's a great strength in saying yes to adventures."

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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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.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

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.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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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.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin 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?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"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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Op-Ed: We can no longer pass the buck on climate action

Society must be unwavering in pursuit of social and environmental justice.

Photo by Callum Shaw on Unsplash
women holding signs during daytime

Voices from every part of the world have been calling for action on climate change and the rapid loss of nature for decades, but too many in power have ignored this growing chorus. Even today, with the impacts of climate change starkly evident, many leaders contend that now is *not* the time to take measures to halt or reverse climate change. And despite mounting evidence pointing to the market growth potential of green technology adoption, concerns over the cost of saving the planet at the expense of sparing the global economy from short-term pain have become the preferred stalling tactic.


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Pop Culture

'90s kids share movies that will 'take you back to a better time'

It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.

YouTube/Upworthy photo illustration

Honey, I shrunk the kid named Matilda while jamming in space!

Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.

Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.

Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.

These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.

Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:

1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

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A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.

2. "The Sandlot"

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It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.

3. "Drop Dead Fred"

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Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!

4. "The Goonies"

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Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.

5. Tim Burton's "Batman"

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Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.

6. "Hook"

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Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.

7. "Space Jam"

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It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.

8. "Matilda"

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I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.

9. "The Parent Trap"

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Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.

10. "The Land Before Time"

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No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.

11. "Richie Rich"

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The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.

12. "Dunston Checks In"

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Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.

13. "George of the Jungle"
george of the jungle, brendan faser

Watch out for the tree!!!

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Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.

14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
mary kate and ashley

Yes, they were professional detectives.

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Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.