Why #FillTheSeats is about more than just selling tickets to the Paralympic Games.

For two weeks in August 2016, it seemed like all of America was glued to their screens to watch some of the world’s best athletes compete at the Olympics.

You could live-stream every single event, and there were thousands of hours of TV coverage. Let’s be honest: It was awesome.

But we don’t have to let the post-Olympic blues set in just yet because the world’s best Paralympians will be competing in Rio starting Sept. 7.


Photo by Andrew Wong/Getty Images.

However, unlike the Olympics, the Paralympics will receive just 66 hours of coverage across the various networks. Sadly, this is actually a huge increase from the mere 5.5 hours of television coverage the London 2012 Paralympics received.

A lack of media coverage isn’t the only issue.

Compared to the record crowds at the 2012 London Paralympics,  only 12% of tickets to the Rio Paralympics had been sold as of Aug. 16.

The causes of these low ticket sales could be debated (think issues like Zika, contaminated water, political upheaval, and protests over Olympic spending), or it could very well be because of the lack of public awareness about the Paralympics.

No matter the reason, these world-class athletes deserve a crowd to cheer them on.

Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images.

Enter Greg Nugent, former London 2012 marketing director, and a simple hashtag to get more spectators to the Paralympics. #FillTheSeats has been trending on Twitter and catching steam recently. One of the coolest parts of this movement? Nugent wasn’t looking to fill the seats with just anyone.

The money raised in the #FillTheSeats campaign will allow Brazilian children and people with an impairment who would otherwise be unable to go to the Games to attend a Paralympic event.

This movement began on August 23 and has received official backing from the IPC and Rio 2016 and an endorsement from Coldplay. Ticket sales are now on the rise as this campaign continues to grow, thanks in part to widespread support on social media from people around the world.

Former Olympic athletes also joined the conversation to voice their support for the initiative:

#FillTheSeats has the potential not only to bring more spectators to Paralympic events, but also to increase support for para-athletes to achieve sporting excellence.

Justin Zook, a three-time gold-medal Paralympic swimmer, put it like this: "I’m hoping this [#FillTheSeats] campaign will find a way to have a long, lasting impact, rather than just an immediate PR and financial effect."

It’s amazing that Paralympians will get to compete on the world's stage in Rio. But just the opportunity to compete isn't enough. We need more media coverage of athletes with disabilities. We need more education about the opportunities for children with disabilities to get involved with sports. We need more than just 66 hours of coverage of the Paralympics.

Paralympians not only are incredible athletes, but they are amazing examples of determination, courage, and perseverance.

With the exposure from the #FillTheSeats movement, hopefully fans at Rio will be inspired by the athletes they witness and will be encouraged to support and learn more about the Paralympic mission.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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