A changemaker is anyone who takes creative action to solve an ongoing problem—be it in one’s own community or throughout the world.
And when it comes to creating positive change, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective can hold just as much power as years of experience. That’s why, every year, Prudential Emerging Visionaries celebrates young people for their innovative solutions to financial and societal challenges in their communities.
This national program awards 25 young leaders (ages 14-18) up to $15,000 to devote to their passion projects. Additionally, winners receive a trip to Prudential’s headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, where they receive coaching, skills development, and networking opportunities with mentors to help take their innovative solutions to the next level.
For 18-year-old Sydnie Collins, one of the 2023 winners, this meant being able to take her podcast, “Perfect Timing,” to the next level.
Since 2020, the Maryland-based teen has provided a safe platform that promotes youth positivity by giving young people the space to celebrate their achievements and combat mental health stigmas. The idea came during the height of Covid-19, when Collins recalled social media “becoming a dark space flooded with news,” which greatly affected her own anxiety and depression.
Knowing that she couldn’t be the only one feeling this way, “Perfect Timing” seemed like a valuable way to give back to her community. Over the course of 109 episodes, Collins has interviewed a wide range of guests—from other young influencers to celebrities, from innovators to nonprofit leaders—all to remind Gen Z that “their dreams are tangible.”
That mission statement has since evolved beyond creating inspiring content and has expanded to hosting events and speaking publicly at summits and workshops. One of Collins’ favorite moments so far has been raising $7,000 to take 200 underserved girls to see “The Little Mermaid” on its opening weekend, to “let them know they are enough” and that there’s an “older sister” in their corner.
Of course, as with most new projects, funding for “Perfect Timing” has come entirely out of Collins’ pocket. Thankfully, the funding she earned from being selected as a Prudential Emerging Visionary is going toward upgraded recording equipment, the support of expert producers, and skill-building classes to help her become a better host and public speaker. She’ll even be able to lease an office space that allows for a live audience.
Plus, after meeting with the 24 other Prudential Emerging Visionaries and her Prudential employee coach, who is helping her develop specific action steps to connect with her target audience, Collins has more confidence in a “grander path” for her work.
“I learned that my network could extend to multiple spaces beyond my realm of podcasting and journalism when industry leaders are willing to share their expertise, time, and financial support,” she told Upworthy. “It only takes one person to change, and two people to expand that change.”
Prudential Emerging Visionaries is currently seeking applicants for 2024. Winners may receive up to $15,000 in awards and an all-expenses-paid trip to Prudential’s headquarters with a parent or guardian, as well as ongoing coaching and skills development to grow their projects.If you or someone you know between the ages of 14 -18 not only displays a bold vision for the future but is taking action to bring that vision to life, click here to learn more. Applications are due by Nov. 2, 2023.
Dillon Helbig's 81-page graphic novel— written by "Dillon His Self"—captured the hearts of his local librarians and their patrons.
Writing a book is no easy task, even for adult professional writers. Many would-be authors dream of a day when their work can be found on library shelves, unsure if it will ever come.
But for 8-year-old Dillon Helbig, that day has already arrived—in truly unconventional fashion—thanks to his own determination to make it happen.
Dillon wrote his 81-page graphic novel, "The Adventures of Dillon Helbig's Crismis" (written by "Dillon His Self") in a hardcover journal with colored pencils over the course of a few days. He even put a label on the back of the book that reads "Made in Idho" [sic] and put an illustrated spine label on it as well. Then, without telling anyone, he brought it to his local library in Boise, Idaho, and slipped it in among the books in the children's section.
The library Facebook page shared that it had officially added the book to the collection at the branch, writing, "Imagine our surprise yesterday when Dillon's mom called to tell us that her son had authored an entire book, shelved it at the Lake Hazel Branch, then announced to his family later that he had written a book and it could be checked out at the library."
The library also announced that Dillon's book had won the first-ever Whoodini Award for Best Young Novelist—an award created in his honor.
Dillon told local news station KTVB that the book features him, his mom, Santa, a bomb, a portal and a giant carnivorous turkey. Because of course.
"I've been wanting to put a book in the library since I was five," Dillon told the station. Nearly half his life, in other words.
Dillon said there were a lot of librarians he had to sneak past with his book to surreptitiously put it on the shelf, but he did it.
"I'll always be sneaky, like how I get chocolate," he explained. Classic.
The adults on every front handled this kid's creativity and determination the best possible way. His mom called the library to let them know the book was there so it wouldn't get lost or taken. And rather than just returning the book, the librarians actually put it into circulation.
"His parents were worried we would find his book and we would get rid of it," Lake Hazel Branch Library manager Alex Hartman told KTVB. "Which was an unfounded fear because if there's ever a place a book would be safe, it would be here."
The librarians loved Dillon's book.
“It deserves a spot on our library shelves,” said Hartman. “It’s a good story.”
At the time of this local news report, the book had a handful of people in line to check it out. But The New York Times reports that as of the end of January, the waiting list has grown to a whopping 56 people. If each person kept the book for the maximum four-week checkout period it would take four years to get to the people at the bottom of the list.
The experience has made Dillon decide to become an author, his mom said, and he even has some career goals laid out.
“I’m going to stop writing when I’m 40,” Dillon said. After that, he will switch to game creation. In the meantime, he has a sequel to his first novel in the works.
“My next book is going to be called ‘The Jacket-Eating Closet,’" he said, "based on actual events.”
Amazing. Kudos to Dillon for following his dream and making it happen, kudos to his mom for encouraging him and kudos to the librarians who saw an opportunity to support a child's creativity and ran with it.
This article originally appeared on 09.13.22
"For almost 6 minutes, the equivalent of a small city sang, with one voice, the beautiful song of a man who has been dead for decades. If you can do this, you're not just a famous person, you're a legend."
When polarization starts to feel like a defining characteristic of humanity, sometimes we need a reminder that people really are capable of coming together as one.
Watching a stadium full of Green Day concertgoers bust out their best "Bohemian Rhapsody" when it came over the loudspeakers is just such a reminder.
As the person who uploaded the concert footage to Reddit noted: "For almost 6 minutes, the equivalent of a small city sang, with one voice, the beautiful song of a man who has been dead for decades. If you can do this, you're not just a famous person, you're a legend."
What could be more palette-cleansing than hearing thousands of people breaking into song together for an entire six minutes? What's more unifying than a piece of music being so beloved and well-known that a whole stadium knows every note and word and sings it in unison with all their heart?
As one commenter on Reddit wrote, "Ever notice how one crowd singing together always sound the same as other crowds, as in has the same tambre [sic] and sound quality? It's like the recognizable and familiar voice of humanity. Regardless of how different the people in the crowd are, the crowd always sounds the same. I think the idea that we are listening to humanity's voice when hearing a crowd sing is a beautiful concept."
Listen to the voice of humanity. It's truly a beautiful thing.
This article originally appeared on 03.03.20
She didn’t want the girl to “ruin” her photos of the trip.
A 42-year-old mother wondered whether she did the right thing by disciplining her 18-year-old daughter, Abby, who disinvited a friend from vacation because of her weight. The mother asked people on Reddit for their opinion.
For some background, Abby had struggled with her weight for many years, so she went to her mother for help. The two set up a program where Abby was given a reward for every milestone she achieved.
“Four months ago, she asked that I don't get her any more rewards and add it up to her birthday gift, and for her gift she wants a vacation I will pay for, for her and her friends instead of the huge party I had promised for her 18th. I said OK,” the mother wrote.
So, instead of a series of small gifts, Abbey wanted one large one, a vacation with two of her friends. The vacation would also celebrate Abby’s 18th birthday. The mother agreed and booked the trip for the 3 girls.
“Fast forward to last weekend, we started preparing for her vacation,” the mother wrote. “I called the other two girls' parents to confirm the girls would be and learned Abby's best friend Betty isn't going. Betty loves traveling and was looking forward to the vacation, so I asked why. Apparently, Abby uninvited her because ‘she is too chubby to look good in pictures.’”
When the mother approached Abby about the situation, she doubled down on her comments to Betty. “I calmly talked to Abby and reminded her how Betty would feel being left out for such a reason, and she went off with, 'I didn't work so hard for this vacation so my pictures will be ruined,'" the mother wrote.
Abby then asked Betty to contact her mom and say that she decided not to go on the trip because she wasn’t feeling well. Betty refused to lie, and Abby sent her a “ton of hateful texts and body-shaming insults.” Betty shared screenshots of the texts to the mother, and she promptly canceled the entire vacation.
Now, Abby’s father, who shares 50-50 custody with the mother, is livid, and Abby won’t speak to the mother. The mom asked the Reddit AITA forum to see if she was in the wrong, and the commenters overwhelmingly said she did the right thing. "Some of my friends agree on my approach, while others think I should have put my daughter first,” the mother said.
The most popular commenter was short and to the point.
"Teaching your daughter to not be a horrible human being IS putting her first," Due_Laugh_3851 wrote. "I commend your strength and parenting skills. This was the right thing to do and would've been hard to do. Well done, you deserve to go on the holiday yourself," Loud_Wallaby737 added.
"... uninviting someone because you only want skinny people in your pictures is a disgusting attitude frankly. Sorry, I just don't find a nicer word for it. I am totally with you that this needs to have consequences, and while I'm very much against breaking promises, I do believe this is an exception. Like you said, your daughter knows what it feels like. She (but anyone really) should be supportive of friends wanting to lose weight if that is the case and if it isn't they she should just mind her own
business body," SensitiveSires wrote.
One of the few people who thought she was in the wrong believed that the mother set her daughter up for failure.
"[You're wrong] for giving your daughter who is a child rewards for weight loss. Her behavior of value based on weight shows she likely has developed disordered eating patterns and attitudes and this will cause her a lifetime of pain," tamtheprogram wrote.
The silver lining to the story is that many people who commented said that even though her daughter did something very hurtful, she’s still a teenager and there’s a chance she’ll realize the error of her ways.
"The daughter is just a teenager, she still has a lot of time to learn and grow up. Writing off her entire future as a mean girl when it’s very rare to be the same exact person you were at 18 as you grow up is a lot," Stephapeaz wrote.
The actor called it “the best thing I have ever done in my life.”
When people become famous, they know fans are going to want things from them all the time—autographs, selfies, shoutouts, handshakes and hugs. But what about when a fan reaches out in distress?
Canadian actor James Doohan, who played the lovably surly ship mechanic Scotty on the original "Star Trek" television show and films, received a harrowing note from a fan once. It's hard to know when to take a letter from a stranger seriously, especially when you're a famous actor, but he did.
"I got a fan letter from a young lady—it was a suicide note," he shared in an interview. "So I called her. I said, 'Hey, this is Jimmy Doohan—Scotty from Star Trek,' I said, 'I'm doing a convention in Indianapolis. I want to see you there.'"
The woman came to the convention, and Doohan said he couldn't believe what he saw. "Definitely suicidal," he said. "Somebody had to help her somehow, you know. Obviously, she wasn't going to the right people."
Doohan told the young woman that he was going to be at another convention in two weeks, and then another two weeks after that, and that he wanted to see her at each one of them. And sure enough, she showed up at all of them, despite them being held all over the country.
"That went on for two or three years, maybe 18 times. And all I did was talk positive things to her," he said. "And then all of a sudden, nothing. I didn't hear anything. I had no idea what was happening because I really never saved her address, right?"
Miraculously, eight years later, Doohan got a letter from the woman.
"I do want to thank you so much for what you did for me," it read, "because I just got my master's degree in electronic engineering."
Doohan said the story brought tears to his eyes every time he talked about it. "You know, to me, it's the best thing I've ever done in my life," he said.
Though Doohan passed away in 2005, his legacy as the OG Scotty—and as a caring public figure who went the extra mile for a struggling stranger—lives on.
Watch him tell the story:
There's something loveable about every clique.
Think back to all those centuries ago (kidding), when you were but a wee teen in high school. Suddenly identity exploration and finding a sense of belonging become paramount. In those pivotal years, you meet other like-minded individuals with similar tastes and interests, and those people become your exclusive group of friends, otherwise known as a clique.teacher, honing in on what she liked about teaching each clique. Her observations illuminate not only that yes, cliques persist (and with them their inherent problems) but that there’s something genuine, sweet and loveable about each one.
First on deck—the goth kids, primarily because Ms. C admits to being scared of them when she was a kid. But now, after actually connecting with a few, she insists that underneath those dark and gloomy exteriors lies genuine kindness.
“A common interaction between me and a goth kid is throughout class, they're just kind of like giving me a death glare…And then after class, they just like linger around by my desk and I'm like, ‘Hey, what's up?’ And they'll just like lightly knock over something on my desk and be like, ‘You're a really good teacher. This is my favorite class.’ and then just walk out,” she says in the clip.
So yeah, goth kids are just like cats. Misunderstood in the way they show love.
@stillateacher Something loveable about every clique #teacher #teachersoftiktok #teachertok #highschool #clique ♬ original sound - Ms. C
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Ms. C tackles theater kids next. Sure, this group has a big personality (perhaps too big for some), but Ms. C appreciates their brazen self-assurance.
“They reeeeealllly don’t care what anyone thinks,” she says, explaining that while other students add well-known pop singers to her class playlist, theater kids will shamelessly put in their favorite show tunes. Why? Because it’s “the best musical of all time!” Duh.
Plus, Ms. C commends their “really strong literacy skills from reading and memorizing all of these plays.”
For jocks, there are actually sub-cliques within the group “depending on which sport you play.” But despite each sport team having different personalities, Ms. C notes that a supportive coach makes all the difference.
“I've literally before picked up my phone and called the coach and then like be like, ‘So and so is having a tough day,’ and they come and talk to them in the hallway and the student is like immediately changed, inspired, transformed,” she says.
And while she admits that the teacher/jock relationship is often portrayed as contentious, she can’t help but commend jocks for their passion and commitment.
“A lot of the kids are just like die-hard for whatever sport they play. That keeps them coming to school consistently. It keeps them having something to do,” she says.
After her initial post received over 800,000 views, Ms. C began reviewing even more cliques. Like band kids, who are “clever,” “sarcastic," fond of outdated memes and generally “lead a fun, joyful existence.”
@stillateacher Replying to @juan pablo Suarez band kids get a 5 star review #teacher #teachersoftiktok #teachertok #highschool #clique ♬ original sound - Ms. C
Or art kids, who are “self-deprecating” but “brilliant” and “generous” and “unproblematic royalty” overall.
Ms. C has even advocated for the AP overachievers, who are often labeled as insufferable in their eagerness.
@stillateacher Replying to @520momo_mama I will defend overachievers to the death #teacher #teachersoftiktok #teachertok #highschool #clique ♬ original sound - Ms. C
“You all have an edge and an intensity that you can leverage to lead truly extraordinary lives,” says, before joking that they’ll “also need a lot of therapy, so many blessings to you on that journey, and the earlier you start the better.”
Requests for more clique reviews are still rolling in, asking Ms. C to cover the skater punks, the nerds, the speech and debate team, cheerleaders and dancers, …and a lot of folks have suggested choir kids. So be sure to follow Ms. C for more wholesome entertainment.
High school cliques might evolve with the different generations, but one thing that will never change is that they each have something unique to offer.
This makes ketchup look like candy.
To say that Americans have a sweet tooth is an understatement. According to a study of 54 countries published by World Population Review, American sugar consumption is the highest in the world at 126 grams per day. That’s the equivalent of drinking three cans of Coca-Cola every day.
In comparison, the average person in China consumes just 7 grams of sugar daily.
The tricky thing about the American diet is that a lot of foods that don’t necessarily taste sweet to us are saturated with sugar.
A recent tweet by Josiah Hughes received over 5 million views because it showed the shocking amount of sugar in the average bottle of Heinz ketchup. The image shows an empty bottle of Heinz ketchup that is about a third full of sugar. The image seemed like an exaggeration because ketchup isn’t overly sweet. It has a tangy, savory, acidic and smooth flavor with a hint of spice.
But this photo makes a bottle of ketchup look more like a candy bar.
“The powerful visual shows how much sugar is in 400ml of Heinz Ketchup. No wonder I feel sick when I consume a whole bottle,” Hughes joked in the tweet.
The tweet’s popularity inspired Snopes, one of the internet’s most popular fact-checking sites, to investigate the claim. Is a bottle of Heinz ketchup roughly a third sugar?
To fact-check the claim, Snopes purchased two 14-ounce bottles of Heinz ketchup and referenced the nutrition information on the product label. The math was pretty simple. The average bottle of Heinz ketchup contains 391 grams of ketchup, of which 92 grams of it are sugar. That means that the ketchup is roughly 24% sugar. Snopes ranked the claim true: “A viral tweet offers a roughly accurate visual representation of the amount of sugar in a bottle of Heinz ketchup.”
“The vast majority of the product's sugar content comes from both high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup, both of which are liquids,” the fact-check reads. A big reason why American foods are so saturated with high fructose corn syrup is that it is cheap because the government subsidizes it.
Many health complications can come with overconsuming high fructose corn syrup. A major problem is diabetes.
"Chronic overconsumption of high fructose corn syrup causes an increase in fat production and worsens insulin sensitivity," Jennifer Feda, Clinical Nutrition Manager at the Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain, tells Hartford Hospital. "Even a small change like not drinking regular soda is beneficial. Limiting processed foods, in general, will not only help you limit intake of high fructose corn syrup, but also your intake of unhealthy fats, which is a bonus."
Although the image of the sugar-filled ketchup bottle is shocking, it’s a wake-up call to many Americans about the dangers posed by the products we consume every day. The more transparent that companies and watchdogs can be about what’s really in our food, the better chance we all have to make healthier choices.