Inspirational News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational News Articles in Media
Alex Deans has a lot to reflect on this summer. The eighteen-year-old Ontario, Canada native just graduated high school. He’s also changing the way blind people everywhere will be able navigate the world around them. For the past six years, Deans has been working tirelessly on a device now known as the iAid, a navigation system that uses ultrasonic technology and GPS technology to help the visually impaired get where they need to go. The belt-like structure comes with a joy stick and operates using four ultrasonic sensors, which send out sound waves that ricochet off objects and alert the user as to how far away that object is. The idea first came to him at age 12, when he went to help a blind woman across the street. All that was at her disposal was a cane and the option of a guide dog, which is often hard to come by. Dean told Good News Network, “Guide Canes tell you what’s directly in front of you, but they don’t help you figure out where you are in relation your destination and objects that are farther away.” The iAid helps users steer around objects in their vicinity and includes a joystick that swivels in their hands, pointing them in the direction they need to go in. As far as pricing goes, he estimates the device will only cost about $50-$70 per unit, if he can get the cost of materials down. He hopes his invention will one day replace canes and give blind people the ability to maneuver more easily on their own.
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“People always say to me, ‘Anyone who runs as much as you do deserves to be skinny.’ Of course, what they're really saying: ‘If you do all this running, why are you still so fat?’” Early that morning [Mirna] Valerio had led a three-mile group run around the campus of Rabun Gap-Na-coochee School in the nearby town of Rabun Gap, where she serves as Spanish teacher, choir director, and head coach of the cross-country team. She's about to start her second run of the day. Every run, every race, every traverse of a mountain trail, every gym workout, Valerio begins by taking a photo. “To prove that I was out here,” she explains. Later, she will post the photos on ... her blog, Fat Girl Running, in which she both writes of the joys of the running life and thoughtfully, humorously, and sometimes angrily rebuts her doubters, who can't believe that a self-described fat person might discover - or deserve - this kind of joy. With a BMI ... above the National Institutes of Health-established line defining obesity, Valerio, a marathoner, ultramarathoner, and trail runner, has emerged as ... a living argument that it's possible to be both fit and fat. “I'm pretty much in love with my body,” she writes. “Sometimes I get disappointed or angry with it, but like any long-term, committed relationship, it usually comes right back to love and respect.” By making peace with her obesity - or, more accurately, by fighting her disease to a kind of enduring, vigorously active truce - Valerio draws kudos from a formerly skeptical medical community.
Note: Read another great piece on this inspiring woman.
Ahh, chocolate. There probably isn't a more magical ingredient on earth than the sweet, dark brown flavoring used for more than 3,000 years. Today most chocolate is consumed in the form of candy. Common sense tells us that too much of something so fatty and full of calories is a bad thing. But a surprising number of studies have found that dark chocolate can reduce the risk of death from a heart attack, decrease blood pressure and help those with chronic fatigue syndrome. The question for many chocolate lovers has been at what point are you having too much of a good thing. That is, is there an optimal "dose" for chocolate eating? A new study published in the journal Heart on Monday looked at the effect of diet on long-term health. It involved 25,000 volunteers and found that the answer to how much chocolate can be good for you is - a lot. Those who ate 15 to 100 grams of chocolate a day in the form of everything from Mars bars to hot cocoa had lower heart disease and stroke risk than those who did not consume the confection. The study also noted that more of the participants in the study ate milk chocolate vs. dark chocolate which has long been considered healthier. This might suggest that beneficial health effects may apply to both, the researchers said.
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Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the global microfinance movement, is perhaps best known for winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Yunus thinks the American Dream — or at least key components of it — is kind of a sham. “It’s the tyranny of employment,” Yunus told me. It’s not the working that he objects to. It’s the idea that so many simply aspire to work for someone else. For him, the idea of employment is the result of an artificial economic system that anoints the few as entrepreneurs and the rest of us workers. The philosophy goes to the heart of Yunus’ lifelong work in microfinance to combat poverty. Since 1997, Grameen Bank, the nonprofit financial institution he founded in Bangladesh, has lent billions of dollars to poor people, mostly women, to start their own businesses. Yunus’ ideas are incompatible with ... the venture capital model. “Some people tell me ‘Not all human beings are entrepreneurs,’” he said. “‘Some have that capability. Others do not have that capability.’ I say ‘Why do you say that? You distort them to make them workers. You already ruined them, giving their mind this idea of job.’” Is a poor woman in Bangladesh who cleans people’s homes any less of an entrepreneur than Mark Zuckerberg? The only difference is that Facebook got millions of dollars in venture capital whereas the woman received a $5 loan from Grameen Bank to buy a vacuum cleaner and a mop. There is no such bank for poor people in America to start businesses, let alone open a savings and checking account.
Note: Read more on the empowering microcredit movement and the inspiring work of Muhammad Yunus.
Outgoing Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has taken the historic step of banning female genital mutilation, a move hailed by campaigners as “hugely important.” The law, which also prohibits men from abandoning their wives or children without providing economic support, was passed by the Senate on May 5 and signed by Jonathan as one of his final acts as president, as his successor, Muhammadu Buhari, was sworn into office on Friday. According to 2014 U.N. data, about a quarter of Nigerian women have undergone FGM, which can cause infertility, maternal death, infections and the loss of sexual pleasure. The practice was already banned in some states, but now it will be outlawed throughout the country. As one of Africa’s cultural and political powerhouses, campaigners are hoping Nigeria will influence other African nations, where FGM is still legal and widely practiced. An estimated 125 million women and girls worldwide — mostly in Africa and the Middle East — are living with the consequences of FGM. While stressing the importance of this new law, campaigners also urged caution, saying it was crucial that not just laws, but also attitudes, had to change in order to bring an end to the practice.
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Welcome to “Spring Fever” week in primary schools across the Netherlands, the week of focused sex ed classes. In the Netherlands, the approach, known as “comprehensive sex education,” starts as early as age 4. You’ll never hear an explicit reference to sex in a kindergarten class. In fact, the term for what’s being taught here is sexuality education rather than sex education. All primary school students in the Netherlands must receive some form of sexuality education. The system allows for flexibility in how it’s taught. But it must address certain core principles — among them, sexual diversity and sexual assertiveness. That means encouraging respect for all sexual preferences and helping students develop skills to protect against sexual coercion, intimidation and abuse. The underlying principle is straightforward: Sexual development is a normal process that all young people experience, and they have the right to frank, trustworthy information on the subject. “There were societal concerns that sexualization in the media could be having a negative impact on kids,” [health promotion official Robert] van der Vlugt said. “We wanted to show that sexuality also has to do with respect, intimacy, and safety.” The Dutch approach to sex ed has garnered international attention, largely because the Netherlands boasts some of the best outcomes. The teen pregnancy rate in the Netherlands is one of the lowest in the world, five times lower than the U.S. Rates of HIV infection and sexually transmitted diseases are also low.
Alex Lyngaas says his mother, Eva, had given up on finding love after raising two boys and seeing her second marriage come to an end. But he and his and older brother, Chris, believe their mom, who lives in Norway, is a "total catch." The brothers encouraged Eva to date again, even buying her a subscription to an online dating service. But all their efforts were for naught until Alex got the idea to create a video highlighting all of his mom's best qualities, in hopes of connecting her with the man of her dreams. The video, "Looking for Adam," is a play on Eva's nickname, Eve. It's garnered nearly 1.5 million views since it was posted to YouTube less than a week ago. Alex kept the project a secret from his mother until it was completed, and her reaction is part of the video, which begins with mother and sons watching it together on her computer. "My mom is ... always making sacrifices and putting her children first. Now I feel it's my turn to put her first and help her fill a void in her life, finding her someone to love her like she deserves to be loved," Alex told TODAY. As the video comes to a close, Eva asks her son, "My gosh, Alex, what do you want to do with this?" When Alex suggests putting it on YouTube, she responds, "The Internet?" "After discussing whether to put it online for days on end, she finally said, 'I realize I have nothing to lose. You can do as you like,'" Alex told TODAY. "A few days later, here we are with a video that has seemingly captured the hearts and imaginations of people all over the world."
Note: Don't miss this fun, touching video which now has over 10 million views.
Medicine Hat, a city in southern Alberta, pledged in 2009 to put an end to homelessness. Now they say they've fulfilled their promise. No one in the city spends more than 10 days in an emergency shelter or on the streets. If you've got no place to go, they'll simply provide you with housing. "We're pretty much able to meet that standard today. Even quicker, actually, sometimes," [said] Mayor Ted Clugston. Clugston admits that when the project began in 2009, when he was an alderman, he was an active opponent of the plan. "I even said some dumb things like, 'Why should they have granite countertops when I don't,'" he says. "However, I've come around to realize that this makes financial sense." Clugston says that it costs about $20,000 a year to house someone. If they're on the street, it can cost up to $100,000 a year. "This is the cheapest and the most humane way to treat people," he says. "Housing First puts everything on its head. It used to be, 'You want a home, get off the drugs or deal with your mental health issues,'" Clugston says. "If you're addicted to drugs, it's going to be pretty hard to get off them, if you're sleeping under a park bench." And the strategy has worked. In Medicine Hat, emergency room visits and interactions with police have dropped. But there was one change that initially surprised Clugston — court appearances went up. "They end up dealing with their past, atoning for their sins," he says. Clugston believes that no one on the streets is unreachable.
Pope Francis did not mince words when he told a group of children gathered at the Vatican that some people will never want peace because they profit off of war. "Some powerful people earn their living off making weapons," the pope said, in a translation provided by Rome Reports. "For this reason, many people do not want peace." He also called the weapons business an "industry of death," according to Catholic Herald. The pontiff spoke in front of roughly 7,000 children at the Vatican on Monday, in a visit sponsored by the Fabbrica della pace (“Peace Factory”), a non-governmental organization that operates educational programming in primary schools with the purpose of promoting cross-cultural understanding. “Whenever we do something together, something good, something beautiful, everyone changes," he said. "This does us good." The pope's strong words against the weapons industry echo the pontiff's earlier anti-war statements. On December 7, 2014 Pope Francis sent a letter to the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, stating, "Nuclear weapons are a global problem, affecting all nations, and impacting future generations and the planet that is our home." "Spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations," he continued. "To prioritize such spending is a mistake and a misallocation of resources which would be far better invested in the areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight against extreme poverty."
Note: Go Pope Francis! Watch the beautiful video of this event at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Tyson Foods, one of the country’s largest meat producers, said on Tuesday that it planned to eliminate the use of human antibiotics in its chicken production by 2017. The company had been working toward that goal for some time, ceasing the use of antibiotics in its hatcheries last year and adopting feed free of antibiotics this year. Then McDonald’s, the sprawling restaurant chain that is one of Tyson’s biggest customers, said in March that it planned over the next two years to rid its supply chains of chicken treated with antibiotics important to human medicine. At that time, health advocates and investment analysts predicted Tyson would take the final steps to eliminate the drugs from its chicken production. The company said in a news release that it would begin meeting with groups of farmers who produce pork, turkey and beef for Tyson under contract to come up with a plan for eliminating antibiotic use in their programs. “Antibiotic-resistant infections are a global health concern,” said Donnie Smith, president and chief executive of Tyson Foods, in a statement. Perdue, another large chicken producer, said last fall that it had eliminated human antibiotics from its hatcheries, the last step in a long process to reduce its reliance on such drugs. It still uses antibiotics that are not used in human medicine, as will Tyson.
Psychologist and best-selling author Shawn Achor has made a career studying the science of happiness. "Scientifically, happiness is a choice," Achor says. He explains that research has shown you can rewire your brain to make yourself happy by practising simple happiness exercises. Achor says in just 21 days, the exercises can transform a pessimist into an optimist. And within 30 days, those habits change the neuropathways of our brains and turn us into lifelong optimists. These six daily happiness exercises are proven to make anyone, from a 4-year old to an 84-year old, happy, or simply happier, Achor says: 1. Gratitude Exercises. Write down three things you're grateful for that occurred over the last 24 hours. They don't have to be profound. 2. The Doubler. Take one positive experience from the past 24 hours and spend two minutes writing down every detail about that experience. As you remember it, your brain labels it as meaningful and deepens the imprint. 3. The Fun Fifteen. Do 15 minutes of a fun cardio activity, like gardening or walking the dog, every day. The effects of daily cardio can be as effective as taking an antidepressant. 4. Meditation. Every day take two minutes to stop whatever you're doing and concentrate on breathing. 5. Conscious act of kindness. At the start of every day, send a short email or text praising someone you know. 6. Deepen Social Connections. Spend time with family and friends.
Note: The three-minute video at the link above link has some good ideas on achieving greater happiness. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Maybe it's the 17 freezers he keeps running in his apartment, or his nodding eyes from lack of sleep. Spend a few hours with Allan Law and you start to realize a little crazy comes with his kindness. "It's stupid," Law agrees. "Last night I got no sleep out in the streets, but I slept two hours today." Next week, the Minnesotan known as the "Sandwich Man" will be honored by Minneapolis Rotary for his efforts on behalf of homeless people. Law started serving disadvantaged Minnesotans while still a teacher for Minneapolis Public Schools. His efforts hit high gear when he retired 16 years ago. Working out of the van he drives through the night, last year Law handed out more than 700,000 sandwiches, 7,000 pair of socks and 75,000 bus tokens. Some of his work is funded by his teaching pension, the rest is covered by donations to his non-profit organization, Minneapolis Recreation Development. Those 17 freezers in his apartment store sandwiches made by 800 church, business, and civic groups each year. Law delivers some of the sandwiches for distribution by shelters, others he hands out by himself. "I bring sandwiches so not only will they have something to eat, but when they leave in the morning they can take a couple sandwiches with them." He also makes the rounds to gas stations during the night, collecting food that would otherwise go into dumpsters, for quick distribution to the homeless. "Sometimes I get emotional," Law says. "Somebody has to care."
Note: Watch a great, five-minute video on this caring man who makes a big difference.
The CEO of a credit-card payments company in Seattle said executive pay is "out of whack," so he's cutting his own pay and creating a minimum salary for his workers. Now, he will be earning $70,000 like many of them, and he's OK with it. Dan Price, 30, announced this week that any employee at his company, Gravity Payments, making less than $70,000 annually will receive a $5,000-per-year raise or be paid a minimum of $50,000, whichever is greater. The aim: By December 2017, everyone will earn $70,000 or more. To facilitate this change, Price said his salary will decrease to $70,000 from about $1 million. "My salary wasn't $1 million because I need that much to live, but that's what it would cost to replace me as a CEO," Price told ABC News. Price started the company in 2004 when he was only 19 years old, [when] the cost of living in Seattle was much lower than it is today. When Gravity launched, the company paid $24,000 per year even for senior positions. Today, the company, which pays an average salary of $48,000, has 120 employees. 70 of their paychecks will grow with this plan. "I may have to scale back a little bit, but nothing I’m not willing to do." Price chose the $70,000 figure based on a 2010 Princeton University study that showed happiness, or "life evaluation," is positively impacted up to $70,000 or $75,000 per year; but increases above that figure did not have a significant positive effect on happiness.
The Vatican has long opposed nuclear weapons, but Pope Francis is making the cause one of the top diplomatic priorities of his two-year-old papacy. In December, the Vatican submitted a paper calling for total nuclear disarmament to the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons. In January, Pope Francis touted nuclear disarmament as a major goal alongside climate change. “Pope Francis has recently pushed the moral argument against nuclear weapons to a new level, not only against their use but also against their possession,” Archbishop Bernedito Auza, the Holy See’s Ambassador to the U.N., says. “Today there is no more argument, not even the argument of deterrence used during the Cold War, that could ‘minimally morally justify’ the possession of nuclear weapons. The ‘peace of a sort’ that is supposed to justify nuclear deterrence is specious and illusory.” For Francis ... inequality and nuclear power are interwoven. “Spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations,” Pope Francis wrote to the Vienna Humanitarian Conference in December. “To prioritize such spending is a mistake and a misallocation of resources which would be far better invested in the areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight against extreme poverty. When these resources are squandered, the poor and the weak living on the margins of society pay the price.”
Citizens of one of the happiest countries on Earth are surprisingly comfortable contemplating a topic many prefer to avoid. Is that the key to joy? On a visit to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, I found myself sitting across from a man named Karma Ura, [confessing] something very personal. Not that long before, seemingly out of the blue, I had experienced some disturbing symptoms: shortness of breath, dizziness, numbness in my hands and feet. I feared I was having a heart attack. So I went to the doctor, who ran a series of tests and found... “Nothing,” said Ura. Even before I could complete my sentence, he knew that my fears were unfounded. I was not dying. I was having a panic attack. “You need to think about death for five minutes every day,” Ura replied. “It will cure you.” “How?” I said, dumbfounded. “It is this thing, this fear of death ... is what is troubling you.” “But why would I want to think about something so depressing?” “Rich people in the West, they have not touched dead bodies, fresh wounds, rotten things. This is a problem. This is the human condition. We have to be ready for the moment we cease to exist.” In Bhutanese culture, one is expected to think about death five times a day. The Bhutanese may be on to something. In a 2007 study, University of Kentucky psychologists [concluded] that “death is a psychologically threatening fact, but when people contemplate it, apparently the automatic system begins to search for happy thoughts”. Death is a part of life, whether we like it or not. Ignoring this essential truth comes with a ... cost.
Monty Roberts is taking his message of nonviolent communication and developing trust to military veterans, military police, and incarcerated youths with post-traumatic stress disorder. “The key is to speak the horse’s language, which is gesture,” he says. He has demonstrated an uncanny ability to “speak” this language, eliminating the centuries-long practice of “breaking a horse” with traditional methods. Roberts is considered the original horse whisperer ... spending a lifetime refining his system, teaching it globally through books, videos, TV shows, demonstration tours, and his own Equestrian Academy. At an evening at his ranch titled “Night of Inspiration,” Roberts told of overcoming an abusive father and the prickly resistance of the traditional equestrian community to become arguably the top horse trainer in the world. Now he is morphing into the role of advocate for the healing power of horses. Henry Schleiff, president and general manager of the Military Channel, summed up the results after about 400 people attended a clinic: “The impressive, unique work that Monty Roberts has pioneered, using untrained horses as a therapeutic tool for veterans who are trying to work through anger and depression, is absolutely inspiring.” Brigitte von Rechenberg, a professor of veterinary medicine, [said] “There is trust and respect; there is no winner and no loser. Monty’s methods leave the horse his dignity. These concepts cause happiness to reach your soul.”
McDonald’s said on Wednesday that its 14,000 US restaurants will stop serving chicken raised with antibiotics "important to human medicine," a significant change in food policy for the world’s largest fast-food chain. McDonald’s said the decision is an attempt to adapt to diners’ desire for healthier food.‘‘Our customers want food that they feel great about eating — all the way from the farm to the restaurant — and these moves take a step toward better delivering on those expectations,’’ McDonald’s US president, Mike Andres, said in a statement. McDonald’s said the new policy will be implemented across its US supply chain within two years. Also, McDonald’s said that this year it will begin offering milk jugs in its Happy Meals that contain milk from cows that have not been treated with the growth hormone rbST. Public health advocates cheered the move, and some groups, including Keep Antibiotics Working, said they had been in ‘‘close dialogue’’ with McDonald’s about the policy change.
A group of top American intellectuals have volunteered to "take" the 1,000 lash sentence imposed by the Saudi government on a prominent liberal blogger. Raif Badawi ... received the sentence for insulting his country's hardline Islamic clerics. The move, which follows widespread international outrage at the sentence, is being led by Robert P. George, a leading professor at Princeton University. Professor George said: "Together with six colleagues on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, I sent a letter to the Saudi Ambassador to the US calling on the Saudi government to stop the horrific torture of Raif Badawi — an advocate of religious freedom and freedom of expression in the Saudi Kingdom. If the Saudi government refuses, we each asked to take 100 of Mr. Badawi's lashes so that we could suffer with him. The seven of us include Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, Christians, Jews, and a Muslim." Mr Badawi, 31, who set up a liberal website to discuss Saudi politics in which he criticised the country’s hardline religious establishment, has been sentenced to ten years in prison as well as 1,000 lashes. So harsh is the flogging that it has to be administered in individual sessions of 50 lashes a time in order to stop the recipient dying or suffering serious injury during the process. The first bout of 50 lashes was dished out to Mr Badawi on January 9, before hundreds of spectators in a public square in front of a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah. The date for a second set of lashes has so far been postponed as doctors have said that Mr Badawi's injuries from the first flogging have not yet healed.
David Korten began his professional life as a professor at the Harvard Business School on a mission to lift struggling people in Third World nations out of poverty by sharing the secrets of U.S. business success. Yet, after a couple of decades in which he applied his organizational development strategies in places as far-flung as Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and the Philippines, Korten underwent a change of heart. In 1995, he wrote the bestseller When Corporations Rule the World, followed by a series of books that helped birth the movement known as the New Economy, a call to replace transnational corporate domination with local economies, control, ownership, and self-reliance. This month, Korten, who is also the co-founder and board chair of YES!, publishes a new book challenging readers to rethink their relationship with Earth—indeed, with all creation, from the smallest quantum particle to the whole of the universe. The world needs “a new story,” he says. Buying into the “Sacred Money and Markets” story that money is wealth and the key to happiness locks us into indentured servitude to corporate rule. It’s the traditional development model, or transnational capitalism, that damages Earth as a living community, including not just humans but all life forms. Control of money is the ultimate mechanism of social control in a society in which most every person depends on money for the basic means of living. The only legitimate purpose of the economy is to serve life, is to serve us as living beings making our living in co-productive partnership with living Earth.
Note: David Korten's new book is titled: Change the Story, Change the Future. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Sometimes people laugh when Zac Bookman tells them what his company, OpenGov does. Not out of mockery. Out of disbelief that a website — or, really, anything — can make it easier to track how the government spends trillions of dollars of their tax money. Users [of OpenGov] can easily share what they find with friends — or push back on government officials to question their spending. Still, Bookman hears doubters. Cynicism runs deep, especially when it involves government becoming more transparent. Bookman ... understands their skepticism. People have lost faith in government officials to improve their lives. “People don’t think of (government) as an industry, but it is,” said Bookman, whom Ronnie Lott nominated for the first Chronicle and St. Mary’s College Visionary of the Year award. “Our software allows you to see where the money goes.” $7 trillion in public dollars ... flows through federal, state and local government entities, from big cities to mosquito abatement districts. Much of it is hidden in plain sight, virtually inaccessible to the public because of user-unfriendly tech interfaces. But now more than 250 government organizations are using [OpenGov], including the city of Los Angeles. There is a bipartisan appeal to this sort of transparency. Conservatives like it because it helps to highlight where to cut government fat, while liberals buy into it because this sort of tool can quantify the value of government services. OpenGov is attempting to ... make this very complex data usable by people who are not financial experts.
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