Why the U.S. women's gymnastics team is truly America at its finest.

America is in the midst of some tough conversations. Strong opinions and uncomfortable truths about race, politics, and social justice can make it seem like we're more divided than ever.

There's an unlikely place where we can look forward with hope, however:


The 2016 U.S. women's gymnastics team.

There are big reasons we should celebrate the diverse group of female gymnasts representing the U.S. at the Olympics in Rio this year.

Photo by Jason Lavengood/U.S.A. Gymnastics.

Sure, on the surface, gymnastics doesn't have much to do with those bigger, important conversations currently unfolding across Facebook and dining room tables.

But there's probably never been a better time for an Olympic squad to remind us that yes — we should all be on the same team, regardless of our background or skin color.

The five gymnasts representing the USA in the Olympics are fabulous, badass, and incredibly talented:

1. Chances are you've heard of the awesomeness that is Gabby Douglas.

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

"I do want to be sharper," Douglas explained. That may be a tough goal to reach, seeing as she dominated the sport in 2012, becoming the first black gymnast to win an individual Olympic gold.

"When I look at my performances, I’m like, ‘Oo, you’re lagging behind, Gabs.’ The one thing I tell myself is to not get lazy. Nothing is handed to you; you always have to fight for yourself."

2. Laurie Hernandez, the first U.S.-born Latina to join the team since 1984, is a standout at just 16 years old.

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

"Wow — that's all I can really say," Hernandez said of joining a team with such stellar athletes. Her passionate routines landed her the nickname "human emoji."

"I didn’t realize how much mentally and physically older I got in the past four years, so looking back at this little girl watching the Olympics on her phone, I would never think I’d be here right now."

3. Simone Biles is a 19-year-old Texan who many consider to be among the greatest gymnasts of all time.

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

"I’m excited about being with the girls all the time because we all know what it’s like to go through this," said Biles, who has snagged a history-making 14 world championship medals (and is just all-around awesome). "We have each other to lean on, and I think that’s the best thing that could have happened."

4. Look out for Madison Kocian, who will be killin' it on the uneven bars.

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

"It’s just something so special that I will never forget her announcing my name," Kocian said of learning she was going to the Olympics. She won the uneven bars world title in 2015.

5. The team's veteran athlete, Aly Raisman, is a Jewish 22-year-old who's used to bringing home the gold, silver, and bronze.

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

"I think it just hasn’t really sunk in yet," Raisman said of landing a spot on the team again this year after competing in 2012 — an Olympics she finished as the team's most decorated gymnast.

One of the best things about the Olympics is that it brings our country together. That's something we need this year, especially.

So far, it's been a year filled with sweeping front-page headlines as well as complexities and tough questions about race relations.

Is there widespread systemic racism in law enforcement? Are we mischaracterizing our brave men and women in blue?

A Dallas vigil for the officers who were killed following an otherwise peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. Photo by G. Morty Ortega/Getty Images.

America, we've got some soul-searching to do. And one inspirational Olympic team certainly won't make these questions any easier to answer.

These five women, however, serve as a symbolic reminder of why our country is so great — and why it's vital we keep fighting for a better, more equal tomorrow.

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.