Inspirational News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational News Articles in Media
The teenage birth rate in the United States has hit an all-time low, according to a report this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says during the last 25 years, the teen birth rate has fallen from 62 births for every 1,000 teenage women to 24 per 1,000. The drop is steepest among minorities in the past decade, with pregnancies down 44 percent for black teens and down 51 percent among Hispanics. Dr. Wanda Barfield, the CDC’s director of the Division of Reproductive Health [explains this dramatic] decrease: "What we’re seeing is that community-based interventions appear to be effective in preventing teen births. We’re seeing declines in sexual activity among teens, as well as increases in the use of the most effective contraceptive methods available. Sexual health education plays an important role in the prevention of teen pregnancy. Even states that may have low rates of teen pregnancy may have areas where we’re seeing high rates of teen pregnancy within specific communities. So, as a result, it’s really important that we look locally, that we engage communities in teen pregnancy prevention."
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48.1 million Americans have insecure access to food, including 32.8 million adults and 15.3 million children. Several restaurants ... are trying to win the war against hunger. For example, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia, has a “pay-it-forward” concept allowing customers to feed local homeless people a slice of pizza for one dollar. Even Stevens, a new restaurant based in Salt Lake City, gives a sandwich to a local hungry person with every sandwich sold. According to their website, Even Stevens has donated 444,022 sandwiches so far. The founder of Even Stevens, Steve Down, is a serial entrepreneur. As the father of millennials who care deeply about social consciousness and giving, Down saw the opportunity to use his skills ... to turn the food service industry into a force for social good. The result is “a sandwich shop with a cause.” Even Stevens is growing rapidly, with ... seven current locations since the first opened in Salt Lake City in June, 2014. Down plans to have 20+ locations open by the end of 2016. The 10 year plan is to have 4,000 locations feeding over 1,000,000 people per day. To put these numbers in perspective, Subway has approximately 34,000 locations and Chipotle has approximately 2,000. Anyone inside the restaurant industry would consider the objectives of Even Stevens to be ludicrous. Yet, Down ... believes the results of Even Stevens speak for themselves, with each location currently opened achieving profitability within the first 30-60 days.
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Back in 2005, Jameel McGee says he was minding his own business when a police officer accused him of - and arrested him for - dealing drugs. "It was all made up," said McGee. Of course, a lot of accused men make that claim, but not many arresting officers agree. "I falsified the report," former Benton Harbor police officer Andrew Collins admitted. "Basically, at the start of that day, I was going to make sure I had another drug arrest." And in the end, he put an innocent guy in jail. "I lost everything," McGee said. "My only goal was to seek him when I got home and to hurt him." Eventually, that crooked cop was caught, and served a year and a half for falsifying many police reports, planting drugs and stealing. Of course McGee was exonerated, but he still spent four years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Today both men are back in Benton Harbor, which is a small town. Last year, by sheer coincidence, they both ended up at faith-based employment agency Mosaic, where they now work side by side in the same café. And it was in those cramped quarters that the bad cop and the wrongfully accused had no choice but to have it out." I said, 'Honestly, I have no explanation, all I can do is say I'm sorry,'" Collins explained. McGee says that was all it took. "That was pretty much what I needed to hear." Today they're not only cordial, they're friends. Such close friends, not long ago McGee actually told Collins he loved him. "And I just started weeping because he doesn't owe me that. I don't deserve that," Collins said.
Note: Don't miss the beautiful video of this story at the link above.
Scanning a prison menu is a bleak task. Common food items range from nutraloaf - a mishmash of ingredients baked into a tasteless beige block - to, rumor has it, road kill. The substandard quality of food at some correctional facilities has led to protests and hunger strikes. But some states, along with correctional authorities and prison activists, are discovering the value of feeding prisoners nutrient-rich food grown with their own hands. Prison vegetable gardens, where inmates plant and harvest fresh produce to feed the larger prison population, are on the rise in correctional facilities from New York to Oregon. In addition to being a cost-effective food source, the gardens are seen as a way to save money on healthcare for prisoners struggling with diabetes, hypertension, and other ailments. But the gardening itself provides opportunities for personal growth, as inmates learn how to plant, raise, and harvest crops. It also functions as a method of rehabilitation in what is often a deeply stressful environment. “Inmates are sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment,” says Tonya Gushard, public information officer for the Oregon State Correctional Institution (OSCI) in Salem. The OSCI has run a garden program at its facility since 2008. Between 2012 and 2015, Oregon state prisoner-gardeners raised more than 600,000 pounds of produce for nearly 14,000 inmates. The potential savings for taxpayers in health costs from providing inmates with high-quality food cannot be overstated.
Note: Watch an inspiring video on how meditation has become a path of freedom to many imprisoned for violent offenses. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Dr. Jim Withers used to dress like a homeless person. On purpose. Two to three nights a week, he rubbed dirt in his hair and muddied up his jeans and shirt before walking the dark streets of Pittsburgh. Withers wanted to connect with those who had been excluded from his care. "I was actually really shocked how ill people were on the street," he said. "Young, old, people with mental illness, runaway kids, women (who) fled domestic violence, veterans. And they all have their own story." Homelessness costs the medical system a lot of money. Individuals often end up in emergency rooms, and stay there longer, because their illnesses go untreated and can lead to complications. For 23 years, Withers has been treating the homeless - under bridges, in alleys and along riverbanks. "We realized that ... we could make 'house calls,'" he said. It's something that Withers' father, a rural doctor, often did. Withers' one-man mission became a citywide program called Operation Safety Net. Since 1992, the group has reached more than 10,000 individuals and helped more than 1,200 of them transition into housing. In addition to street rounds, the program has a mobile van, drop-in centers and a primary health clinic, all where the homeless can access medical care. In the way I'd like to see things, every person who is still on the streets will have medical care that comes directly to them and says, "You matter." Having street medicine in [the] community transforms us. We begin to see that we're all in this together.
Note: Don't miss the video of Withers' inspiring "street medicine" in action at the CNN link above.
Sweden is so good at recycling that, for several years, it has imported rubbish from other countries to keep its recycling plants going. Less than 1 per cent of Swedish household waste was sent to landfill last year or any year since 2011. Sweden was one of the first countries to implement a heavy tax on fossil fuels in 1991 and now sources almost half its electricity from renewables. Over time, Sweden has implemented a cohesive national recycling policy so that even though private companies undertake most of the business of importing and burning waste, the energy goes into a national heating network to heat homes through the freezing Swedish winter. “That’s a key reason that we have this district network, so we can make use of the heating from the waste plants. We use [the waste] as a substitute for fossil fuel,” ... says Anna-Carin Gripwall, director of communications for the Swedish Waste Management’s recycling association. The aim in Sweden is still to stop people sending waste to recycling in the first place. A national campaign ... has for several years promoted the notion that there is much to be gained through repairing, sharing and reusing. She describes Sweden’s policy of importing waste to recycle from other countries as a temporary situation. “There’s a ban on landfill in EU countries, so instead of paying the fine they send it to us as a service. They should and will build their own plants, to reduce their own waste, as we are working hard to do in Sweden,” Ms Gripwall says.
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What started as a small gesture, of feeding underprivileged children, by 31-year-old Darshan and his friends has turned into a full-blown movement. An email he shot off to a restaurant, after being deeply disappointed with the service he got there, just changed the course of Darshan’s life. When the restaurant management apologised for the poor service and offered to give him free food, Darshan refused the offer and asked them to feed underprivileged children instead. The restaurant went ahead with his suggestion, and after feeding the children, sent pictures to Darshan. “This is the moment that changed me forever. The smile on the faces of those children left me touched. And that is when I decided to do something about it,” he says. Thus, the BhookMitao campaign was born. On June 7, 2015, Darshan and his friends went and fed a couple of children in a slum in Vadodara, Gujarat. Today, the BhookMitao movement provides nutritious lunch to as many as 1,200 children in Vadodara. As the volunteer network grows, Darshan has divided it into groups. Each group takes up a particular spot in the city. They coordinate with those who want to donate, procure the raw materials, and cook the meals in their own kitchens. The programme usually begins ... with some fun activities for the kids. They screen movies on education or make them do some craft work etc., and then ... volunteers and children eat the same food together. The movement ... has spread, [and] the number of volunteers has grown from six to over 600.
France has become the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food, forcing them instead to donate it to charities and food banks. Under a law passed unanimously by the French senate, as of Wednesday large shops will no longer bin good quality food approaching its best-before date. Charities will be able to give out millions more free meals each year to people struggling to afford to eat. The law follows a grassroots campaign in France by shoppers, anti-poverty campaigners and those opposed to food waste. Campaigners now hope to persuade the EU to adopt similar legislation across member states. Supermarkets will also be barred from deliberately spoiling food in order to stop it being eaten by people foraging in stores’ bins. In recent years, growing numbers of families, students, unemployed and homeless people in France have been foraging in supermarket bins at night to feed themselves. People have been finding edible products thrown out just as their best-before dates approached. Some supermarkets doused binned food in bleach, [or] deliberately binned food in locked warehouses for collection by refuse trucks. Now bosses of supermarkets with a footprint of 400 sq metres (4,305 sq ft) or more will have to sign donation contracts with charities or face a penalty of €3,750 (Ł2,900).
Located in northeast Portland, Dignity Village is a self-governed gated community, which currently serves 60 people on any given night - the city limits the number - and provides shelter in the form of tiny houses built mainly from donated and recycled materials. The village emerged in the winter of 2000 as a tent city called Camp Dignity. Now officially a nonprofit, Dignity Village is governed by a democratically elected council of nine residents, who are responsible for day-to-day decisions; all residents can vote on big decisions, like whether to remove a resident or enter into contracts with service providers, in town-hall-style meetings. On a typical night, it provides food, housing, bathrooms, and a mailing address for nearly 60 adults, who pay $35 a month in rent and would otherwise be taking their chances alone sleeping on park benches or city streets. Community may be Dignity Village’s most essential offering. “It’s really what sets people apart from other homeless shelters and encampments, above all else,” says Katie Mays, who works as a social worker at Dignity Village three days a week. Elsewhere, cities are trying out the model. In Eugene, Oregon, Opportunity Village has lifted the concept wholesale. Dignity Village’s influence also has spread to Nashville, where a micro-housing community called Sanctuary has cropped up. What the residents of these communities hold in common are the bonds forged from shared experience - of finally finding a welcome environment after being discarded and stigmatized by larger society.
Seventeen-year-old Gabe Adams was born without arms and legs and suffers from a rare disease called hanhart syndrome, but that doesn't stop him from dancing. After spending most of his life in a wheelchair, he decided to join the dance team at Davis High School. During halftime at a basketball game Friday night, he performed in front of the whole school. Cheers rang out as Gabe put the word disability to shame. "I wanted to prove to myself and to others that there’s more to myself than just a kid in a wheelchair," Adams said. With practices three days a week, which last for more than three hours, dance team is no easy commitment. However, teammate Alexis Delahunty says Gabe makes it seem easy. "I can’t even imagine doing this without my arms and legs. It's so inspiring. He’s just amazing," Delahunty said. His dance teacher, Kim King, says Gabe has brought so much joy to the team and has pushed them all to work harder. "When they see him, they don’t realize how hard it is to get dressed, how hard it is to get in and out of his chair, but Gabe does everything by himself," King said. Gabe's father, Ron Adams, said Gabe is always pushing himself and taking each challenge in stride. "I don’t think everyone understands what it takes, the muscle coordination and development to balance when he doesn’t have limbs," Ron Adams said. He may not realize it, but Gabe is constantly inspiring the people around him.
Note: Note: Don't miss the amazing video at the link above. For more on this most impressive teenager, see this story. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Skills like kindness, cooperation, and empathy are sometimes dismissed as “soft” skills in education. Developing “hard” skills like math and reading can seem far more practical and important - hence our education system’s rigorous focus on teaching and testing them. But [a] recent study, published last month in the American Journal of Public Health, turns that thinking on its head. After following hundreds of students from kindergarten through early adulthood, the study suggests that possessing those “soft” skills is key to doing well in school and avoiding some major problems afterwards. Neglecting these skills could pose a threat to public health and safety. Importantly, these findings held true regardless of the student’s gender, race, or socioeconomic status, the quality of their neighborhood, their early academic skills, or several other factors. Those who were rated as more pro-social in kindergarten were more likely to succeed. In some cases, kids’ kindness was more strongly related to certain outcomes later in life than were other factors that might seem more relevant. For example, surprisingly to the researchers, the level of aggression that a student showed in kindergarten couldn’t predict whether the student would have a run-in with the law later in life - but his level of pro-social behavior could. The results make a convincing case for investing more in nurturing students’ social and emotional skills - which, according to prior research, are malleable and can be improved, with lasting and meaningful results.
Trained as a lawyer, Van Ngoc Ta never imagined that he would spend his evenings posing as a gang lord in brothels. Over the past 10 years, Van Ta has played an active role in ... Blue Dragon Children's Foundation, [a charity] that rescues Vietnamese women and girls trafficked to China for the sex trade as well as victims of forced labor. Undercover operations [are] part of the job. In the past decade he has rescued more than 480 women and girls sold into prostitution or sexually abused as well as victims of forced labor working in Vietnam. Some Vietnamese women go abroad for brokered marriages, mostly to China and Malaysia, but find themselves in domestic servitude or prostitution. Others are duped in online relationships and end up in the sex trade. Others are sold to traffickers by friends or neighbors. "We put the safety and interests of the victims first. What you want to do more than anything else is to bring them home. I have to be careful as there is a lot of money involved," said Van Ta, adding that girls can earn as much as $250 a day for their pimps and traffickers. "If you think of the number of girls I have rescued, this probably means I have taken about $2-3 million of earnings from the traffickers and brothels." Van Ta ... said the rewards of the job outweighed the risks. "When you bring a victim home, there are tears of happiness, and you would accept any price to bring them home," said Van Ta. Blue Dragon ... now has 72 staff and cares for more than 1,500 children in Vietnam [in addition to] its rescue work.
The Grant Study ... is now the longest longitudinal study of biosocial human development ever undertaken, and is still on-going. The study’s goal was to identify the key factors to a happy and healthy life. In 2009, I delved into the Grant Study data to establish a Decathlon of Flourishing - a set of ten accomplishments that covered many different facets of success. Two of the items in the Decathlon had to do with economic success, four with mental and physical health, and four with social supports and relationships. Then I set out to see how these accomplishments correlated, or didn’t, with three gifts of nature and nurture - physical constitution, social and economic advantage, and a loving childhood. The results were as clear-cut as they were startling. In contrast with the weak and scattershot correlations among the biological and socioeconomic variables, a loving childhood - and other factors like empathic capacity and warm relationships as a young adult - predicted later success in all ten categories of the Decathlon. What’s more, success in relationships was very highly correlated with both economic success and strong mental and physical health. In short, it was a history of warm intimate relationships ... that predicted flourishing. The Grant Study finds that nurture trumps nature. And by far the most important influence on a flourishing life is love. Not early love exclusively, and not necessarily romantic love. But love early in life facilitates not only love later on, but also the other trappings of success, such as high income and prestige.
After decades on the fringes, impact investing is going mainstream. Though the phrase isn’t yet commonplace, the concept is familiar enough to have spawned several monikers: values-based investing, green investing, mission-driven investing, sustainable investing, socially responsible investing, principled investing. Some 3,000 investors and entrepreneurs convened at Fort Mason this week to discuss the idea at SOCAP, the leading conference for people who want to support social innovation with their money. “Social-impact investors want to make sure they are doing good in the world but as a genuine investment, not philanthropy,” said Eryc Branham, CEO of MissionHub, which produces the conference. The rapidly growing field measures returns not just in dollars and cents but in social and environmental change. On the financial side, some investors accept lower returns as a trade-off for doing good. But they don’t necessarily have to. A new report from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found that pursuing a social agenda doesn’t come at a financial price. After studying 53 funds with 557 investments, Wharton found that their rate of return from 2000 to 2014 was in line with benchmarks like the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. While impact investing amounts are still small compared with the multitrillion-dollar financial market, the potential for making a difference is immense.
Note: Learn how the microcredit movement is providing investors with financial returns while empowering small business owners and lifting people out of poverty.
Sweden is moving to a six-hour working day in a bid to increase productivity and make people happier. Employers across the country have already made the change, according to the Science Alert website, which said the aim was to get more done in a shorter amount of time and ensure people had the energy to enjoy their private lives. Toyota centres in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, made the switch 13 years ago, with the company reporting happier staff, a lower turnover rate, and an increase in profits in that time. Filimundus, an app developer based in the capital Stockholm, introduced the six-hour day last year. “The eight-hour work day is not as effective as one would think," Linus Feldt, the company’s CEO told Fast Company. Mr Feldt has said staff members are not allowed on social media, meetings are kept to a minimum, and that other distractions during the day are eliminated - but the aim is that staff will be more motivated to work more intensely while in the office. He said the new work day would ensure people have enough energy to pursue their private lives when they leave work – something which can be difficult with eight-hour days.
Plastic, long considered nonbiodegradable and one of the biggest contributors to global pollution, might have met its match: The small, brownish, squirmy mealworm. Researchers have learned that the mealworm can live on a diet of Styrofoam and other types of plastic. Inside the mealworm's gut are microorganisms that are able to biodegrade polyethylene, a common form of plastic, according to new studies published in Environmental Science and Technology. The findings could help solve the plastic pollution problem affecting the world. The research documented 100 mealworms that consumed 34 to 39 milligrams of Styrofoam, which is about the weight of a pill, every day. Scientists also paid attention to the mealworms' overall health and saw larvae that ate a diet subsisting strictly of Styrofoam were as healthy as mealworms eating a normal diet of bran, [and] transformed the plastic they ate into carbon dioxide, worm biomass and biodegradable waste. This waste seemed safe to use in soil for plants and even crops, the studies said. Being able to find insects that can safely degrade plastic is critical to potential pollution management because other insects such as cockroaches can also consume plastic, but they have not shown biodegradation.
The FBI says crime rates, including murder, were down last year. The report is in contrast to headlines this year. In 2014 the U.S. recorded the fewest murders since 2009. Most other violent crimes, such as robbery, burglary, theft and arson have declined, while aggravated assaults and rapes, which now includes a broader definition, were on the rise in 2014. The 2014 numbers do not reflect an increase this year in murders and other violent crimes reported in some cities. Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates highlighted progress made for cities compared to decades past. "We have witnessed a remarkable drop in crime since the 1980's - both violent crime and crime overall. Entire cities have been transformed, unlocking tremendous potential and releasing a wave of prosperity," Yates said, adding that "even though crime is trending downward in most places, we are seeing pockets of rising violence in various locations across the country." While the FBI has expanded the report to include new statistics such as hate crimes and human trafficking arrests, it addressed concerns of transparency in the reporting of potential violent crimes committed by law enforcement officers on civilians.
Note: This article, like almost all media articles on the topic, fails to report the incredible news that violent crime rates have dropped to 1/3 of what they were just 20 years ago. Why are they not highlighting this incredibly inspiring news? For details on this awesome development, see this excellent webpage. See also an excellent graph on this.
Libraries aren’t just for books, or even e-books, anymore. In Sacramento, where people can check out sewing machines, ukuleles, GoPro cameras and board games, the new service is called the Library of Things. Services like the Library of Things and the “Stuff-brary” in Mesa, outside Phoenix, are part of a broad cultural shift in which libraries increasingly view themselves as hands-on creative hubs, places where people can learn new crafts and experiment with technology like 3-D printers. Last year, the Free Library of Philadelphia pulled together city, state and private funds to open a teaching kitchen, which is meant to teach math and literacy through recipes and to address childhood obesity. It has a 36-seat classroom and a flat-screen TV for close-ups of chefs preparing healthy dishes. “Libraries are looking for ways to become more active places,” said Kate McCaffrey of the Northern Onondaga Public Library, outside Syracuse, which lends out its garden plots and offers classes on horticulture. “People are looking for places to learn, to do and to be with other people.” The Ann Arbor District Library has been adding to its voluminous collection of circulating science equipment. It offers telescopes, portable digital microscopes and backyard bird cameras, among other things - items that many patrons cannot afford to buy. In Sacramento, each item in the Library of Things bears a bar code, since the Dewey Decimal System was not intended for sewing machines or ukuleles.
The Dutch city of Utrecht ... has paired up with the local university to establish whether the concept of 'basic income' can work in real life, and plans to begin the experiment at the end of the summer holidays. Basic income is a universal, unconditional form of payment to individuals, which covers their living costs. The concept is to allow people to choose to work more flexible hours in a less regimented society, allowing more time for care, volunteering and study. University College Utrecht has paired with the city to place people on welfare on a living income, to see if a system of welfare without requirements will be successful. The Netherlands as a country is no stranger to less traditional work environments - it has the highest proportion of part time workers in the EU, 46.1 per cent. However, Utrecht's experiment with welfare is expected to be the first of its kind in the country. Alderman for Work and Income Victor Everhardt: "One group ... will have compensation and consideration for an allowance, another group with a basic income without rules and of course a control group which adhere to the current rules. Our data shows that less than 1.5 percent abuse the welfare. What happens if someone gets a monthly amount without rules and controls? Will someone sitting passively at home or do people develop themselves and provide a meaningful contribution to our society?"
Lego just announced a bold 10-year plan to makes its goods more environmentally friendly. This comes after a 2013 partnership with the World Wildlife Fund to develop a plan in reducing its overall carbon emissions, as well as those of its supply chain. Lego pledged to invest $150 million to find a replacement for the plastic used in its blocks as well as to reduce the size of its packaging. A commitment for this kind of strategy includes using recycled or renewed materials and improving the recyclability of its products. Hasbro and Mattel, producers of such iconic toys as Play-Doh and Hot Wheels, respectively, have also vowed to invest in this global issue. By 2020, Hasbro plans to reduce its waste, water, energy, and greenhouse gas emissions. It is also overhauling the packaging for most of its brands. These strides have led to Hasbro being named a winner of the EPA's 2014 Climate Leadership Award. After caving to mounting pressure from Greenpeace, Mattel committed to source new materials for its packaging, setting a goal of 85 percent recycled materials by the end of 2015. "The investment announced is a testament to our continued ambition to leave a positive impact on the planet, which future generations will inherit," said Lego Group owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen. Words we should all try to live by.
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