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Inspirational News Articles
Excerpts of Key Inspirational News Articles in Media

Below are highly engaging excerpts of key inspirational news articles reported in the mainstream media. Links are provided to the full, original news articles. If any link fails to function, read this webpage. These inspirational articles are listed by order of importance. You can also explore the news articles listed by order of the date of the article or by the date posted. Enjoy the rich inspiration!

Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on dozens of engaging topics. And read excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.

'The Singing Doctor' Croons to Newborns in the Delivery Room
2014-07-22, ABC News

When newborn babies come into the world at Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, the first thing they hear is a song. The soothing melodies come not from a CD, an iPod or even their own parents, but from the very doctor who delivered them. “I’ve delivered about 8,000 babies and I must have sung ... to six or [seven thousand] of them,” Dr. Carey Andrew-Jaja told ABC News. Dr. Andrew-Jaja began the practice of singing to the tiny humans he just delivered while he was a young resident and learning from a physician who did the same. “He was about to retire. He asked me to continue the tradition,” he said. “And I’ve done it ever since.” Dr. Andrew-Jaja’s repertoire of songs includes everything from the expected “Happy Birthday” to the more unexpected like “What a Wonderful World." “Sometimes the pregnancy has been difficult, the delivery has been complex and yet most of the time out comes this beautiful baby and it’s a moment when you forget that fear,” he [said]. Dr. Andrew-Jaja’s talent put him in the spotlight last year when his employer, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, posted a video on his singing tradition to YouTube. “When I'm singing to those babies I think that I'm singing to a future important person,” Dr. Andrew-Jaja says in the video. “That's the credit I give to all of them. So, to me, it's a wonderful thing in my hand, the miracle of life," he said. “You forget about all the crisis going on everywhere, for a moment, when you see that miracle of life in front of you.”

Note: Watch the beautiful video of this amazing doctor. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.

Nonprofit pay-what-you-can cafes let diners pay it forward
2014-06-18, Washington Post

I first encountered the concept of pay-what-you-can cafes last summer in Boone, N.C., where I ate at F.A.R.M. (Feed All Regardless of Means) Cafe. You can volunteer to earn your meal, pay the suggested price ($10) or less, or you can overpay [towards] a future patron’s meal. As Healthy World Cafe opened in York in April, I signed up for a volunteer shift and planned my visit. F.A.R.M and Healthy World are part of a growing trend of community cafes. Denise Cerreta ... runs the One World Everybody Eats Foundation, helping others replicate her pay-what-you-can model. Most of the nonprofit, volunteer-run cafes are started by individuals or groups, but Panera Bread and the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation also have opened cafes with Cerreta’s guidance. To date, nearly 60 have opened across the country, and another 20 are in the planning stages. Generally, 80 percent of customers pay the suggested price or more, and the remainder pay less or volunteer for meals. “I think the community cafe is truly a hand up, not a handout,” Cerreta said. “Everyone eats there, no one needs to know whether you volunteered, underpaid or overpaid. You can maintain your dignity and eat organic, healthy, local food.” The successful cafes not only address hunger and food insecurity but also become integral parts of their neighborhoods- whether it’s a place to learn skills or hear live music. Some enlist culinary school students as volunteers, some teach cooking to seniors, some offer free used books.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.

Pope Francis hosts Israeli, Palestinian leaders at ‘prayer summit’
2014-06-08, Washington Post

Pope Francis brought together the presidents of Israel and the Palestinian Authority ... at the Vatican to join in prayer and promise to seek peace — though their governments are officially not talking. Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas concluded the two-hour ceremony by kissing each other on the cheek and then planting an olive tree, gestures intended to signal a commitment to trying to end one of the longest-running, most intractable conflicts in the world. “Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare,” Pope Francis said during the gathering, dubbed a prayer summit. “Instill in our hearts the courage to take concrete steps to achieve peace.” The meeting was historic. The prayer summit was a remarkable show of the new pope’s intention to mix spiritual matters and real-world diplomacy. Francis was visiting the Holy Land just two weeks ago when he invited the two leaders to come to the Vatican. “No one is presumptuous enough to think peace will break out on Monday,” the Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, a church official in charge of Catholic sites in the Holy Land, [said]. “The intention of this initiative is to reopen a road that has been closed for some time; to re-create a desire, a possibility; to make people dream,” he said. During the service, Jewish, Christian and Muslim prayers were recited in English, Italian, Arabic and Hebrew. The words were intended to thank God for His creation, to seek forgiveness for the failure to act as brothers and sisters, and to ask for peace in the Holy Land.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.

Fasting for three days can regenerate entire immune system, study finds
2014-06-05, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)

Fasting for as little as three days can regenerate the entire immune system, even in the elderly, scientists have found in a breakthrough. Although fasting diets have been criticised by nutritionists for being unhealthy, new research suggests starving the body kick-starts stem cells into producing new white blood cells, which fight off infection. Scientists at the University of Southern California say the discovery could be particularly beneficial for people suffering from damaged immune systems, such as cancer patients on chemotherapy. It could also help the elderly whose immune system becomes less effective as they age, making it harder for them to fight off even common diseases. The researchers say fasting "flips a regenerative switch" which prompts stem cells to create brand new white blood cells, essentially regenerating the entire immune system. "It gives the 'OK' for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system," said Prof Valter Longo, Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the University of California. "And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting. Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or ageing, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system." Prolonged fasting forces the body to use stores of glucose and fat but also breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells. During each cycle of fasting, this depletion of white blood cells induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.

From Rwandan Garbage Dump To Harvard
2014-05-24, Huffington Post

Life -- indeed, survival -- was always difficult for 8-year-old Justus Uwayesu. During the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, Justus' father was executed for being born into a family whose identity cards had the Tutsi box arbitrarily checked. His mother vanished shortly thereafter. By the time Justus was 8, he [was living] in the garbage dump for Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. One Sunday ... a taxi [rattled down the dusty road] transporting Clare Effiong, a visitor from the U.S. She was on a mission, "letting the Spirit lead" in a way that causes many to feel very uncomfortable and even suspicious. Through an interpreter Clare ... asked little Justus [what he wanted]. He said, "I want to go to school." Clare drove Justus to a friend's home in Gikondo and told him, "Educate this boy and I will send money to pay for school fees, school materials, uniform, shoes -- whatever." From his first day of school, Justus' most distinctive attribute has been (and remains) his ever-present conviction that it is a precious privilege to learn. Justus obsessively studied, [and received] guidance in applying to colleges and universities in the United States. On [college admissions] "decision day," at 11 PM Rwandan time (5 PM EST), Justus ... fumbled and struggled at first to get into the secure admissions site. Then the letter began to load, and Justus read the first word: "CONGRATULATIONS!" Justus screamed with joy and fell to the floor. When he composed himself, he borrowed my phone to call Clare in the U.S. "Mom, MOM!" he yelled. "I'm going to Harvard!"

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.

Vermont Ups the Ante on Genetically Modified Foods
2014-04-25, ABC News/Associated Press

Vermont has raised the stakes in the debate over genetically modified foods by becoming the first state to pass a bill requiring that they be labeled as such in the grocery aisle, making the move despite the opposition of the powerful U.S. food industry. The Vermont bill says genetically modified foods "potentially pose risks to health, safety, agriculture, and the environment" and includes $1.5 million for implementation and defense against lawsuits expected from the food and biotech industries. It's unclear how GMO labeling might affect consumers' wallets or food companies' bottom line if shoppers reject labeled foods. The labels will say "produced with genetic engineering" for packaged raw foods, or "partially produced with genetic engineering" or "may be produced with genetic engineering" for processed food that contains products of genetic engineering. Meat and dairy would be exempt. A national New York Times poll in January 2013 found that 93 percent of respondents said foods containing GMOs should be labeled. Twenty-nine other states have proposed bills recently to require GMO labeling, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than 60 countries require such labeling, according to the Vermont Right to Know campaign. Some farmers in Vermont, known for its organic food operations, see the bill's passage as a David-vs.-Goliath victory. "This vote is a reflection of years of work from a strong grass-roots base of Vermonters who take their food and food sovereignty seriously and do not take kindly to corporate bullies," Will Allen, manager of Cedar Circle Farm in Thetford, said.

Note: For more on the good reasons to require GMO labels on foods, see the excellent summary of the risks from GMOs available here.

Goodbye, Oil: US Navy Cracks New Renewable Energy Technology To Turn Seawater Into Fuel, Allowing Ships To Stay At Sea Longer
2014-04-08, International Business Times

After decades of experiments, U.S. Navy scientists believe they may have solved one of the world’s great challenges: how to turn seawater into fuel. The development of a liquid hydrocarbon fuel could one day relieve the military’s dependence on oil-based fuels and is being heralded as a “game changer” because it could allow military ships to develop their own fuel and stay operational 100 percent of the time, rather than having to refuel at sea. The new fuel is initially expected to cost around $3 to $6 per gallon, according to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which has already flown a model aircraft on it. The Navy’s 289 vessels all rely on oil-based fuel, with the exception of some aircraft carriers and 72 submarines that rely on nuclear propulsion. The breakthrough came after scientists developed a way to extract carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas from seawater. The gasses are then turned into a fuel by a gas-to-liquids process with the help of catalytic converters. The next challenge for the Navy is to produce the fuel in industrial quantities. It will also partner with universities to maximize the amount of CO2 and carbon they can recapture. ”For the first time we've been able to develop a technology to get CO2 and hydrogen from seawater simultaneously. That's a big breakthrough," said Dr. Heather Willauer, a research chemist who has spent nearly a decade on the project, adding that the fuel "doesn't look or smell very different."

Note: Strangely, the major media networks appear to be largely silent on this important breakthrough, except for Forbes, which downplays the whole thing, as you can see at this link. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.

Seems like the whole world is 'Happy'
2014-03-20, CNN

There are happy songs -- and then there is "Happy." The bouncy tune by singer/composer/producer/rapper Pharrell Williams has occupied the No. 1 spot on the charts for more than a month. It's spurred countless covers -- including one by Academy Award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow, reprising her guest star role in the 100th episode of "Glee." There is even a YouTube version of "Happy" that has gone completely to the dogs. It has managed to seemingly capture the rush of happiness in its lyrics and melody. Not a bad trick for a tune that slowly grew from a single on last summer's "Despicable Me 2" soundtrack to such popularity that Robert Morast, a writer for the Virginian-Pilot, recently entered into a debate of whether it should be considered for the official state song of Virginia. "Pharrell's hit track is a jolt of mood-lifting music," wrote Morast. "And while it's fine to be happy, the best art is crafted with a range of emotional perspectives." Even with its slow build, "Happy" caught ears from the beginning. Upon release it was quickly dubbed "an instant contender for 2013's Song of the Summer" by Rolling Stone. Since then, it's topped the charts in more than a dozen countries besides the United States, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Poland. Williams has partnered with the United Nations Foundation in celebration of Thursday's International Day of Happiness, encouraging fans to donate to the organization and submit content to his 24Hoursof site.

Note: To watch this awesome four-minute happy video which has had over 100 million views, click here. To see the website which has great videos of people in happy dance 24 hours a day based on this song, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.

Use of Public Transit in U.S. Reaches Highest Level Since 1956, Advocates Report
2014-03-10, New York Times

More Americans used buses, trains and subways in 2013 than in any year since 1956 as service improved, local economies grew and travelers increasingly sought alternatives to the automobile for trips within metropolitan areas, the American Public Transportation Association said in a report. 10.65 billion passenger trips were taken on transit systems during the year, surpassing the post-1950s peak of 10.59 billion in 2008, when gas prices rose to $4 to $5 a gallon. The ridership in 2013, when gas prices were lower than in 2008, undermines the conventional wisdom that transit use rises when those prices exceed a certain threshold, and suggests that other forces are bolstering enthusiasm for public transportation, said Michael Melaniphy, the president of the association. "People are riding transit in record numbers,” Mr. Melaniphy said in an interview. “We’re seeing a fundamental shift in how people are moving about their communities.” From 1995 to 2013, transit ridership rose 37 percent, well ahead of a 20 percent growth in population and a 23 percent increase in vehicle miles traveled, according to the association’s data. Overall public transit ridership increased by 1.1 percent from 2012, with the biggest gains in rail service and in bus service for smaller cities. In New York, where use of all modes of transit in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority increased 3.6 percent last year. Todd Litman, an analyst at the Victoria Transport Policy Institute in Victoria, British Columbia, [said] “A lot of people would prefer to drive less and rely more on walking, cycling and public transit, provided that those are high-quality options.”

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.

Discipline With Dignity: Oakland Classrooms Try Healing Instead of Punishment
2014-02-19, Yes! Magazine

Tommy, an agitated 14-year-old high school student in Oakland, Calif., was in the hallway cursing out his teacher at the top of his lungs. A few minutes earlier, in the classroom, he’d called her a “b___” after she twice told him to lift his head from the desk. Eric Butler, the school coordinator for Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY) heard the ruckus and rushed to the scene. They walked together to the restorative justice room. Slowly, the boy began to open up and share what was weighing on him. His mom, who had been successfully doing drug rehabilitation, had relapsed. She’d been out for three days. The 14-year-old was going home every night to a motherless household and two younger siblings. He had been holding it together as best he could, even getting his brother and sister breakfast and getting them off to school. He had his head down on the desk in class that day because he was exhausted from sleepless nights and worry. Eric ... facilitated a restorative justice circle with [Tommy's mom], Tommy, the teacher, and the principal. Punitive justice asks only what rule of law was broken, who did it, and how they should be punished. It responds to the original harm with more harm. Restorative justice asks who was harmed, what are the needs and obligations of all affected, and how does everyone affected figure out how to heal the harm. Tommy ... told his story. On the day of the incident, he had not slept, and he was hungry and scared. He felt the teacher was nagging him. He’d lost it. Tommy apologized.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.

Bikers wage war against child abuse
2014-02-02, CBS News

For years, Karen and her 9-year-old daughter, whose identity CBS News is choosing not to share, were abused by Karen's husband. Fearing for their lives, Karen found help from an unlikely group of people: a 3,000-member organization committed to protecting children around the world. They call themselves BACA - Bikers Against Child Abuse. “One thing we try and do as an organization is to help that child feel empowered so they can enjoy their childhood and grow up as an adult knowing that there’s always going to be somebody there and not all adults are bad,” said Happy Dodson, President of the Connecticut chapter, which is currently helping eight families across the state. BACA helps by stepping into the void left by an overwhelmed court system - and by forming a cocoon of support around the abused child, pledging 24-7 protection. Each member goes through an extensive Federal background check and adopts child-friendly road names like Scooter, Shaggy and Pooh Bear. “If the child has problems sleeping or getting on the bus or is afraid to go to school, we’ll take you to school. When the bus drops you off, we’ll be there. We’ll take you home and if need be we’ll stay in that yard until you feel comfortable,” Dodson said. The group also shows up to court appearances to let the abuser know that the child is a part of the BACA family. BACA's motto is "no child deserves to live in fear." Because of them, this young girl no longer does. For some of the members, the cause is personal; they too were abused.

Note: For more on this most inspiring group, see this article and this great video.

For Foster Kids, 'One Simple Wish' Makes Big Impact
2013-12-30, NBC News

She doesn't wear a fairy costume or carry a magic wand, but for many children who don't have a lot to begin with, she might just be their fairy godmother. Danielle Gletow is the founder and executive director of One Simple Wish, a Trenton, N.J., charity that fulfills wishes for foster children in 44 states. The wishes can be big, like horseback riding lessons, or small and simple like a backpack or shampoo. The children are asking for things like bicycles, skateboards, prom tickets, and gymnastic lessons, things that most would consider normal childhood requests and activities, yet they have no one to provide them. That’s where One Simple Wish fills the void, matching wishes from children, caseworkers and foster parents with donations from individuals and corporate donors. For 14-year-old Blessing Williams, who has been in the foster care system for more than a decade, the wish was dance lessons. On a recent Friday afternoon, her wish was fulfilled. With the beat of hip-hop music in the background and a grin on her face, Blessing glided across the floor as part of a class at the Watson-Johnson Dance Theatre. Her wish was donated by 15-year-old Cassidy Mack, who was also a foster child before finding a forever family. “As much as we’ve been growing, and our reach has been expanding, the core of our mission hasn’t changed, it’s about one child. I love that that’s resonated with people. They can come to our site, and they can make change for one individual and that’s what it's all about.”

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.

Meditation Has the Power to Influence Your Genes
2013-12-09, Psychology Today

In a groundbreaking discovery, a collaborative team of researchers from Wisconsin, Spain, and France reported in December 2013 the first evidence of specific molecular changes at a genetic level following a period of mindfulness meditation. "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice," says study author Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds. The study compared the effects of a single day of intensive mindfulness practice between a group of experienced meditators and a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After an intensive day of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a dramatic range of genetic and molecular differences. Meditation was found to alter levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation. "Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs," says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona in Spain, where the molecular analyses were conducted. In past studies, mindfulness-based training has been shown to have beneficial effects on inflammatory disorders. Meditation is endorsed by the American Heart Association as an effective way to lower [the] risk for heart disease. Another study from April 2011 found that meditation produces powerful pain-relieving effects in the brain.

Note: For an excellent and inspiring book on how your thinking and feeling can change your genes, check out Bruce Lipton's Biology of Belief, available here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.

Stories of life, death and faith: 'To Heaven and Back' - Anita Moorjani
2013-11-29, CNN

On February 2, 2006, Anita Moorjani was in a coma. With her body riddled with cancer, doctors told her husband that her organs were shutting down and she likely would not make it beyond the next 36 hours. "I was just so tired of fighting to try to stay alive," she said. So she said she let go. The next morning, she didn't wake up. Her husband rushed her to the hospital, where the family was told the bad news: Moorjani was in a coma and not expected to wake again. Moorjani can't put her finger on the exact minute that she says she left her body. She saw her husband standing next to her hospital bed. Moorjani could also hear conversations that took place between her husband and her doctors, far from her hospital room. She heard them, she said, discuss her pending death. "Your wife's heart might be beating, but she's not really in there," a doctor told her husband -- a conversation, she said, he would later confirm to her after she asked. Hovering between life and death, she said she was surrounded by people who loved her. Her [deceased] best friend, Soni, was there. So was her father, who had died years earlier from heart failure. There were others there, too. She knew they loved her and cared for her. It was a feeling unlike anything she says she had ever felt. "At first, I did not want to come back. Why would I want to come back into this sick body?" she said. About 30 hours after being hospitalized, Moorjani awoke. Within days, she said, her organs began to function again. Within weeks, doctors could find no evidence of cancer in her body, she said.

Note: For more on Anita's incredible journey through death, click here. For a treasure trove of inspiring news articles on near-death experiences, click here.

Inside Avaaz – can online activism really change the world?
2013-11-16, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)

Avaaz – which means "voice" in various languages – has become a global pressure group to be reckoned with. It's a new kind of activism that isn't issue-led, it's issues-led. It's human rights abuses in Burma, or it's the Syrian civil war, or it's threats against the Great Barrier Reef or it's homophobia in Costa Rica. It's whatever its supporters, guided by the Avaaz team, choose to click on most this month. If it launches a campaign, it throws its resources at it – and a chunk of its $12m budget a year, all donated from individuals – and there's a fair chance it will have an impact. Avaaz is both global and globalised and its approach is less bleeding-heart liberal than hard-headed pragmatist. Its growth is exponential: they've gone from nine employees in year one to 100 now. In September, I interviewed its softly spoken Canadian founder, Ricken Patel, and noted in the transcript that [Avaaz] now had 26 million [members]. By the time this piece appears in print in November, that number will be hovering around the 30 million mark. "Liking" a Facebook page isn't going to save the world. But five times as many people in Britain are members of Avaaz than they are of the Labour Party. And 30,000 people donate money to it every month. To save the world, click here.

Note: Read and inspiring article on the founder of Avaaz, Ricken Patel. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.

Hans Rosling: the man who makes statistics sing
2013-11-07, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)

The concept of a “celebrity statistician” might sound as though it must be - and should forever remain - an oxymoron. But watch Prof Hans Rosling ... and you may change your mind. After showcasing his unique approach at a conference organised by TED, [he] garnered a reputation as the “Jedi master of data visualisation” and “the man in whose hands data sings”. What Rosling does, in a nutshell, is animate graphs. One dot showing, for example, life expectancy in Britain, is quite unremarkable, but apply Rosling’s software, and, at the click of a mouse, that dot will move, showing ... how it has changed every year. Add other dots, representing other countries, from France to China, and suddenly you have a moving stream ... that puts each country’s life expectancy into perspective and shows how the figures have changed over the last 65 years. Combine all this with the professor’s hyperactive presentation style ... and a potentially dry subject suddenly has a [compelling] narrative. Not that Rosling would ever describe statistics as “dry”. “No!” he says. “Statistics take up four pages in most daily newspapers. People don’t find these boring at all, but they don’t think of them as ‘statistics’. If you support Man United or Arsenal, or if your stock falling means you can’t go on holiday, you are interested. It’s only boring if you get data you didn’t ask for, or if you don’t realise its link with the real world.”

Note: Rosling has some incredibly hopeful and inspiring data, including that the global population of humans is leveling off. Don't miss his incredibly inspiring TED talk titled "The Best Stats You've Ever Seen."

Learning is something we do together
2013-11-01, The Intelligent Optimist Magazine

Guest teacher Toshiro Kanamori captivates the students at the Amstelveen College high school in the Netherlands. Though he is almost a head shorter than most of the students, he holds their attention as he speaks passionately with the help of a translator. But that's almost unnecessary; as someone says later, with his hand gestures, you could almost understand him without the translator. Kanamori speaks with his face, his hands, his whole body. Kanamori is no ordinary teacher. In his vision of education, school is not so much a preparation for life; he believes children should be participating in life. Life itself forms the foundation for learning. Thanks to the heartwarming documentary "Children Full of Life", Kanamori, 67, is known all over Japan and the world. The documentary follows Kanamori and an elementary school class for a year as he teaches his students how to talk about feelings, be compassionate and be happy. That last lesson, according to Kanamori, should be the reason kids go to school. Kanamori teaches elementary school children at the Hokuriku Gaikun University in the Japanese city of Kanazawa, and in the 38 years he's been -- as he puts it -- in, not in front of, the class, he's brought the outside world into the curriculum. For instance, for a sex education lesson, he invited a pregnant woman to class and let the kids ask any questions they might have. He also brought in a terminal cancer patient to talk about her feelings about dying and death. Lessons about death? According to Kanamori, death is not too heavy a subject for kids around ages 9 and 10.

Note: For a profoundly moving video of Mr. Kanamori working his magic with a group of Japanese children, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.

Prison Gardens Grow New Lives for Inmates
2013-10-23, ABC News blog

From Enfield, Conn., to New York City and the San Francisco Bay, lush gardens filled with ripe fruits, vegetables and flowers are growing in unexpected places — prison yards. Prisons use them to rehabilitate inmates and to teach them basic landscaping skills that they can use to get jobs. For the last three years, all 18 state prisons in Connecticut have had garden programs. None cost taxpayers money. Last year, Connecticut prisons produced more than 35,000 pounds of produce – saving taxpayers $20,000 a year by putting produce back into the prison system. “We believe that everybody has a heart and everybody has a chance for transformation,” said Beth Waitkus, the director of the Insight Garden Program that started 10 years ago at San Quentin prison. “What happens with gardening is … they reconnect to themselves. They reconnect to their feelings. They reconnect to each other as a community, a small community in the prison, and they really reconnect to nature. And, I think that offers a huge opportunity for transformation when we reconnect to ourselves and to the natural world. While Waitkus spends her time in San Quentin teaching inmates how to plant flowers, take care of soil and prune plants, she also keeps the connection strong once they leave prison. Nationally, the recidivism rate is more than 60 percent, according to the 2011 Annual Recidivism Report. For garden prisoners at San Quentin, Waitkus said the return rate is less than 10 percent, and most other prison gardens report return rates in the single digits. In Connecticut, officials say not one of the garden graduates has returned.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.

Google searching for new ways to give back
2013-10-07, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)

Google's founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, made giving back a company priority from the beginning. Their hope was that "someday this institution (under the rubric of '') may eclipse Google itself in terms of overall world impact by ambitiously applying innovation and significant resources to the largest of the world's problems." Google has firmly established itself as a powerful and innovative player on the corporate philanthropy scene. Google's philanthropic entity was initially formed with a pledge of 3 million shares to make grants in several broad areas, including global poverty, disease and renewable energy. In 2009, Google announced a major strategic shift: to not only fund traditional nonprofits through cash grants, but also to concentrate on using Google's strengths in data-driven technologies and information aggregation to address the world's problems - to, in effect, engineer for social benefit. Google gave away $105 million in grants during 2012, plus $1 billion more in product donations, principally productivity apps and advertising grants for nonprofits. The company was the 12th-largest U.S. corporate cash donor in 2011 and 2012, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Between $45 million and $50 million of that 2012 total [was] directed toward disaster relief, university research and community organizations in Silicon Valley - with $23 million dedicated to Google's Global Impact Awards. Last year's Impact Awardees include Charity: Water, which Google granted $5 million to install remote sensors at 4,000 water points across Africa by 2015. The low-cost sensors will monitor and record actual water flow rate to ensure better maintenance of and access to clean water for more than 1 million people.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.

Malala Yousafzai: The Bravest Girl in the World
2013-10-05, Parade Magazine

In this exclusive excerpt from her autobiography, I Am Malala, young activist Malala Yousafzai recounts the day she was shot by the Taliban. "Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, wasn’t the best of days to start with, as it was the middle of exams. We had been getting threats all year. Some were in the newspapers, and some were messages passed on by people. I was more concerned the Taliban would target my father, as he was always speaking out against them. His friend and fellow campaigner Zahid Khan had been shot in the face in August on his way to prayers. When our bus was called, we ran down the school steps. Inside the bus it was hot and sticky. Then we suddenly stopped. A young bearded man had stepped into the road. The man was wearing a peaked cap and had a handkerchief over his nose and mouth. Then he swung himself onto the tailboard and leaned in over us. “Who is Malala?” he demanded. No one said anything, but several of the girls looked at me. I was the only girl with my face uncovered. That’s when he lifted up a black pistol. My friends say he fired three shots. The first went through my left eye socket and out under my left shoulder. I slumped forward, blood coming from my left ear, so the other two bullets hit the girls next to me." Malala has undergone a recovery that is nothing short of miraculous. The bullet narrowly missed her brain [and she] suffered no major permanent neurological damage. The ordeal did, however, solidify her will: “It feels like this life is not my life. It’s a second life. People have prayed to God to spare me and I was spared for a reason—to use my life for helping people.”

Note: Malala was only 11 when she took on the Taliban, demanding that girls be given full access to school. Her campaign led to a blog for the BBC, a New York Times documentary, and a Pakistani peace prize. But all that was only a prelude to even more extraordinary events, the Taliban's assassination attempt and her miraculous recovery. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.

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