Inspirational News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational News Articles in Media
Andrew Short lives with spastic cerebral palsy, which he contracted during birth. Cerebral palsy is a disorder that effects muscle tone, movement and motor skills, but despite impaired speech Andrew’s disability doesn’t impair his mind, and he learned to read early. “I speak three languages,” said Andy. “English, German, and spastic. Spastic is my mother tongue." Andrew is currently completing a Masters Degree in Disability Studies, but his most impressive achievement has been walking the Kokoda Trail, which he describes as “the toughest physical challenge of [his] life”. In Andy’s late twenties, his motor function appeared to begin deteriorating. “We were told to accept that that's what it would be,” said [Andrew's father] David. Instead, David and Andrew began researching the emerging field of neuroplasticity ... inspired by the seminal [book], “The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science”. Andrew’s physical condition is due in part to his trainer, Lee Campbell, a former army trainer and Sydney Swans team member. The two have been training together for five and a half years, and in that time Lee estimates that his physical condition has risen from 2.5 to a 7 or 8. “You watch Andy pull a sled with 20 or 30 kilos of weights in it, he stands up, his posture is corrected,” said Lee. “His finer motor skills now are getting refined. He can hold things, he can cook, he can do his buttons up.” Right now, they’re training together for Andy’s next endeavour, walking the Great Wall of China.
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For the second year in a row, Natural Resources Defense Council and several other organizations rated the 25 largest American fast-food and fast-casual restaurants on their policies toward antibiotics use. While the majority got failing grades in the “Chain Reaction” report, many chain restaurants have made progress, especially when sourcing antibiotic-free chicken - though Chipotle, Panera and now Subway also have strong policies on beef and pork. “We were really encouraged to see that twice as many restaurant chains had adopted new policies,” said Kari Hamerschlag ... one of the report’s authors. An estimated 70 percent of medically important antibiotics are used in livestock production, often given routinely to healthy animals to prevent illness or stimulate growth rather than to cure disease. Between 2009 and 2014, livestock and poultry farms increased their use of these antimicrobial drugs by 23 percent, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA discourages producers from using antibiotics routinely in feed to promote growth, but does not prohibit the practice. McDonald’s grade improved from a C last year to a C-plus because it announced it had fully switched over to antibiotic-free chicken in its U.S. stores. Subway, based in Milford, Conn., which leapt from an "F" grade last year to a "B" grade this year, was listed as the only chain to adopt policies that apply to all types of meat sold. The report said now roughly 67 percent of its chicken is now raised without antibiotics, with turkey to follow.
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A recent report by the communities and local government committee on homelessness pointed out that the “housing first” model “appears to have had a positive impact in Finland”. The ... model is quite simple: when people are homeless, you give them housing. The idea stems from the belief that people who are homeless need a home, and other issues that may cause them to be at risk of homelessness can be addressed once they are in stable housing. Homeless people aren’t told they must conquer their addictions or secure a job before being given a home: instead it is accepted that having a home can make solving health and social problems much easier. Finland is the only European country where homelessness has decreased in recent years. At the end of 2015 the number of single homeless people was for the first time under 7,000 and this number includes people living temporarily with friends and relatives, who constitute 80% of all homeless people. This development is mainly due to a national programme to reduce long-term homelessness. The main explanation for this success is quite simple: when the national programme started housing first was adopted as a mainstream national homelessness policy. This costs money, but there is ample evidence from many countries that shows it is always more cost-effective to aim to end homelessness instead of simply trying to manage it. Investment in ending homelessness always pays back, to say nothing of the human and ethical reasons.
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Nico is one of 11 puppies in the Leader Dogs for the Blind Prison Puppies program, trained by 23 inmates at the Macomb Correctional Facility in New Haven. At the ... all-male prison, it’s common to see inmates toting puppies on leashes through the grounds, eating in the Chow Hall with a lab or golden retriever by their side and passing time with a four-legged cellmate, who takes up a share of the 8-foot-by-11-foot space. “He’s with us 24/7,” said [Mario] Carines, who’s raising Nico with teammate James Fuson. “The puppy is a blessing,” he said, explaining that since the dogs arrived last summer, the morale of both the inmates and staff has improved. “Seeing animals around when the program first began, guys couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t seen a dog in 22 years,” he said. Prison Puppies started in 2002. Leader Dog coordinators noticed a difference in the success rate. Up to 60 percent of puppies raised in prisons become leader dogs, assisting the blind or deaf; the graduation rate of puppies outside prisons is about 45 percent. “Many of our dogs raised in correctional facilities go on to ... have long-term successful working careers as guide dogs,” said [program coordinator] Melissa Spooner. Prison Puppies is a “win-win-win,” Spooner said, since it benefits the recipient, Leader Dog and 108 inmates in the voluntary year-long program. In fact, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found only 17 percent of inmates in Prison Puppies return to prison after being released. The national recidivism rate is about 50 percent.
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“Has anybody heard of rainbow chard?” Larry Moore asked a group of elementary school children. No one answered. “What about this?” Moore asked again, pointing to green leaves emerging from the dirt, their orange base peeking through the brown soil. “That’s a carrot!” several young voices called out. But this carrot wasn’t growing in the ground or a pot. It was growing in the bed of a red pickup truck, a garden on wheels known as the Louisville Truck Farm. “With this, our primary audience is kids, but I’m always in awe at how amazed adults are when they see vegetables growing in the bed of a truck,” said Moore, one of the educators who takes Truck Farm into the community. For the past year, the 1995 Chevrolet truck has traveled more than 450 miles to visit farmers markets, schools, and community events around Louisville, Kentucky, to show that it’s possible to start a garden anywhere, even in an urban environment. In the warmer months, the truck boasts as many as 40 different plants in its bed so that visitors can experience a variety of sights, smells, and tastes. The truck bed ... opens to reveal a plexiglass tailgate, which allows people to get a visual of what’s going on beneath the soil.
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Classy. Professional. Sportsmanlike. Words not often used to describe soccer players these days – but this football team is gaining world attention for exactly those qualities. The players are 12 and 13 years old. A video of Barcelona’s Infantil B side has been posted to YouTube showing the children, from La Masia, comforting their Japanese opposition players after beating them in the final of the World Challenge Cup in Tokyo over the weekend. The Barcelona under–13s won 1–0 thanks to a goal by Xavi Planas, and after the final whistle many of the Omva players were in tears. Barcelona’s youth teams are arguably the most famous in the world, thanks to the La Masia academy, which has produced countless superstars over the years. But on this occasion, rather than bask in their success, the Spanish children consoled their opponents and offered words of advice, with the captain urging the devastated losers to keep their heads up. He then led his side to a bow in front of the crowd.
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A Massachusetts-based lesbian couple received an amazing display of solidarity from their neighbors this week after vandals stole a Pride flag from the front of their home and egged their front porch while they were out of town. Lauri and Cari Ryding initially hung the Pride flag following the Pulse nightclub massacre. The incident at their home served as a reminder why they hung the flag in the first place. "It was our first experience in Natick of having any type of prejudice," Cari Ryding said. "We hadn't experienced it all, and it kind of broke open our little cocoon." After the egging of the Ryding's home, their neighbors came together to show their love and support for the couple ― by flying rainbow flags from all of their houses as well. Over 40 homes in the neighborhood made hung flags from their houses, showing love and support for their lesbian neighbors. "It just happened so quickly ― the whole neighborhood said, Get me a flag. Get me a flag. Get me a flag," neighbor Penni Rochwerger [said]. This moment in Boston is just one of many powerful displays of community-based solidarity with the LGBT community since the Pulse nightclub massacre. The Rydings ... filed a police report in case the vandals return, but they feel encouraged and hopeful from the support from their friends and neighbors.
Note: Don't miss the video on this inspiring expression of neighborly support at the link above.
The incurable Alzheimer’s disease may now have a cure. New research by the University of Manchester shows that the most common form of dementia can be fully cured with an anti-inflammatory drug, commonly used for period pain. Almost 7.5 million new cases of Alzheimer’s - a disease that causes acute problems with memory, thinking ability and behavior - diagnosed around the world every year. The [research] team, led by Dr. David Brough, worked with mice to find that a common Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drug (NSAID) routinely used to relieve menstrual pain - mefenamic acid - completely reversed the inflammation of the brain and lost memory in the specimen. Mefenamic acid is available as a generic drug and is sold under a variety of brand names. For the study, 20 mice were genetically altered to exhibit symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Ten of these were treated with mefenamic acid by using a mini-pump under their skin for one month, while the other 10 mice were treated in the same way with a placebo. Researchers found that the mice treated with mefenamic acid saw a complete reversal of memory loss, while the placebo group’s condition remained unchanged. “There is experimental evidence now to strongly suggest that inflammation in the brain makes Alzheimer’s disease worse,” Brough said in a statement. However, trials on animals are not the same as human trials and may yield different results. If the proposed human trials prove to be promising, it won’t be long before the treatment reaches patients.
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When Anna Pesce was visiting her children in Wagener, SC, in November 2014, the then-85-year-old Orangeburg, NY, native almost collapsed trying to climb a set of stairs. “I had this horrible pain shooting up my back,” Pesce [said]. “I had to be carried up the stairs and put into a wheelchair for the rest of my stay.” For the past few decades, Pesce suffered from hunchbacklike posture - the result of a herniated disc, scoliosis and osteoporosis, which weakens the bones and can lead to curvature of the spine. Three months after her South Carolina visit, she began working with certified yoga instructor Rachel Jesien, [who] visited Pesce in her home once a week, teaching her restorative poses and stretches. After one month of sessions, Pesce was able to walk again. Yoga, done with the guidance of a back-care specialist, can strengthen bone density and muscles and alleviate back pain caused by osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and other conditions that affect the elderly. Dr. Houman Danesh, director of integrative pain management at Mount Sinai Hospital, agrees that doing yoga poses can help some people manage painful back conditions. While Danesh recommends that people go to a physical therapist first for a proper diagnosis, he stresses that one-on-one care with a specialist is key. While older people may feel intimidated by yoga, Jesien says it’s worth seeking out a certified back-care instructor, and Pesce agrees. “I feel wonderful now because I can drive by myself and do the things I wasn’t able to do before,” Pesce says.
Aidan Dwyer, 13, went to the woods and had a eureka moment that could be a major breakthrough in solar panel design. The 7th-grader ... noticed a pattern among tree branches, and determined (as naturalist Charles Bonnet did in 1754) that the pattern represented the Fibonacci sequence of numbers. Aidan wondered why, and figured it had something to do with photosynthesis. In a pretty innovative experiment, this intrepid young scientist set about duplicating an oak tree, comparing its sunlight-capturing abilities to a traditional rooftop solar panel array. He copied the pattern using a computer program, and built an oak tree-shaped solar array out of PVC pipe. He next built a flat-panel array mounted at 45 degrees, like a typical home rooftop array, and attached data loggers to each model to monitor voltage. Aidan's award-winning essay ... walks you through his experiment design and his results. But the short story is that his tree design generated much more electricity - especially ... when the sun is at its lowest point in the sky. At that point, the tree design generated 50 percent more power, without any adjustments to its declination angle. He determined the tree's Fibonacci pattern allowed some solar panels to collect sunlight even if others were in shade, and prevented branches on a tree from shading other branches. Now Aidan is studying other tree species and improving his PVC model to determine how it could be used to make more efficient solar arrays.
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This week's Invisibilia podcast [explores] what happens when people flip the script, responding to situations in ways that are completely unexpected. We tend to respond to aggression with aggression, kindness with kindness. Usually that works just fine. But sometimes turning 180 degrees can change the world. Think Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. In this Invisibilia excerpt on NPR's Morning Edition, we tell the tale of a mellow Washington, D.C., dinner party that was suddenly interrupted by a man with a gun. "Give me your money," the man said. Or he would start shooting. The diners tried to persuade him to back off, but the situation was getting increasingly tense. Then a woman named Christina did something simple yet extraordinary. And that changed everything.
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AeroFarms has built what it says is the world's largest indoor vertical farm, without the use of soil or sunlight. Its ambitious goal is to grow high-yielding crops via economical methods to provide locally sourced food to the community, protect the environment and ultimately even combat hunger worldwide. “We use about 95 percent less water to grow the plants, about 50 percent less fertiliser as nutrients and zero pesticides, herbicide, fungicides,” said David Rosenberg, co-founder and chief executive officer of AeroFarms. “We're helping create jobs as well as create a good story to inspire the community and inspire other businesses.” Inside the 2,800 square metre warehouse, farmers tend the short-stemmed plants, which are illuminated by rows of light emitting diode, or LED, lamps and planted in white fabric made from recycled water bottles. Co-founder ... Marc Oshima said that by producing indoors, AeroFarms can grow plants within 12 to 16 days, compared with 30 to 45 days outdoors. A year-round grow cycle protected from the changeable climate means that indoor farms can be 75 times more productive, he said. The company plans to move its operation this year to a new facility in Newark, [New Jersey] with 6,503 square metres of growing space. Most green, leafy plants thrive during the spring and fall in sunnier states such as California and Arizona. Setting up indoor farms in New Jersey eliminates the environmental costs of transporting those crops to consumers in the Northeast.
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The Antarctic ozone layer, which shields the Earth from harmful ultraviolet rays, shows encouraging signs that it's beginning to heal, according to research published in the journal Science. Scientists credit the healing to an international policy set nearly three decades ago that cut the production of ozone-destroying chemicals. That agreement - the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer - called for the phase-out of substances including chlorofluorocarbons and halons, once present in refrigerators, aerosol cans and dry cleaning chemicals. "The ozone layer is expected to recover in response, albeit very slowly," wrote the researchers in the study. The ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas, protects animal and plant life on Earth from powerful UV rays. When the ozone layer is weakened, more UV rays can get through and affect humans, making them prone to skin cancer, cataracts and other diseases. There also may be consequences for plant life, including lower crop yields and disruptions in the ocean's food chain. The ozone hole was discovered in 1985, which led to the Montreal Protocol two years later. Researchers ... found that the hole in the ozone layer had shrunk by 1.5 million square miles, based on their measurements every September since 2000 to 2015. This area is equivalent to 4 million square kilometers, which is bigger than India. Since the Montreal Protocol went into effect, the amount of harmful chemicals has also decreased.
Pope Francis said on Sunday that Christians and the Roman Catholic Church should seek forgiveness from gays for the way they had treated them. Francis was asked by a reporter if he agreed with recent comments by a Roman Catholic cardinal from Germany that the church should apologize to gays and if an apology was made more urgent by the killing of 49 people at a gay club in Florida this month. Francis, looking sad, recalled church teachings that homosexuals “should not be discriminated against. They should be respected, accompanied pastorally,” he said. Then he added that he thought the church should apologize not only to gay people it had offended, but also to the poor, to women who have been exploited, and to children who have been exploited by being forced to work. “It must apologize for having blessed so many weapons,” Francis added. The pope repeated a slightly modified version of the now-famous “Who am I to judge?” comment he made about gays on the first foreign trip after his election in 2013. “The questions is: If a person who has that condition, who has good will, and who looks for God, who are we to judge?” he said.
One of the world’s oldest female body builders, Ernestine Shepherd, just gained another year in what she’s called her “long happy journey” of life. Now 80, the fitness trainer, model, competitive body builder, and new author celebrated her June 16 birthday with a Facebook post declaring her continued determination, dedication, and discipline. “I am 80 years young today and I thank God for bringing me this far. I’m still determined, I’m still dedicated and I’m still disciplined to be fit!” Shepherd wrote. After being named the oldest female body builder by the Guinness Book of World Records in both 2010 and 2011, Shepherd began to publicly share the story of how she came to live a life of tenacity and perseverance beginning at the age of 56. What started as a modest curiosity about working out turned into a life-changing route to happiness once her sister died suddenly from a brain aneurysm. In an attempt to fulfill the fitness goals Shepherd had created with her late sister, she developed a following and a legacy admired by people of all ages. Shepherd celebrated her current success with the release of her book The “Ageless” Journey of Ernestine Shepherd in which she writes about the secrets to her health and well-being. The book ... details the keys to her motivation, including: “Age is nothing but a number.” In addition to her mantra, “Determined, dedicated, disciplined to be fit,” Shepherd believes that “being out of shape as we age truly is merely an option – NOT a mandate!”
Friends tease James Brady about his devotion to urban farming, calling him a veggielante and a veggie preacher, but that doesn’t stop his proselytizing. Brady and his business partners create microscale systems that allow schoolchildren and others to grow produce in small or nontraditional spaces. They recently sold nine of their “adaptive growing modules” to Sacramento-area schools. The modules consist of raised storage bins hooked up to a recirculating water system and filled with a composted growing medium. “Part of your next meal should come from no (more) than 10-15 feet from your kitchen table,” Brady said, “so that means if you’re in an apartment building, you can put a bin like this on your patio [and] get food to feed your family, lower your carbon footprint and hopefully contribute to making your family healthier.” The growing modules from Con10u2Farm.com will show students they don’t necessarily need land to grow produce or to create a crop-based business. Reggie Brown, the principal for John Still’s elementary and middle school campuses, said his campus lies within a food desert, an urban area where it’s difficult for families to buy fresh, affordable, high-quality food. Consequently, the campus worked ... to teach children how to plant and tend gardens and why fresh produce is good for nutrition. “We’re excited because we have our kitchen right there,” said Brown, pointing to a door less than 10 feet from the school’s adaptive growing module.
On the Monday following the Orlando massacre, 12 golden retrievers arrived in the Florida city. They had come to offer comfort to some of the victims of the attack, the families of those killed and the emergency medical workers. The animals are part of the K-9 Comfort Dogs team, a program run by the Lutheran Church Charities. Founded in 2008, the team has comforted victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. Tim Hetzner, the president of the charity, said that the dogs in Orlando were helping to provide a feeling of safety, allowing those in distress to relax their guard and express their vulnerability during a difficult time. “We’ve had a lot of people here that start petting the dog, and they break out crying,” he said. The dogs and their 20 handlers have visited hospitals and churches, and attended vigils and memorial services. On Wednesday, they visited some of the hospitalized victims. “People couldn’t get out of their bed, so we had to bring the dog up so they could pet the dog while laying down,” Mr. Hetzner said. “They start smiling, and in a couple cases, they started talking as much as they could.” Comfort dogs ... are often employed by therapists and medical doctors to help soothe patients. Studies have shown that they can help to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression as well as the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. There are more than 120 dogs in the K-9 Comfort Dog unit, in 23 states. All of them have received extensive training similar to that of a service dog.
A community college reform group has selected a handful of schools in Virginia and Maryland to develop degree programs using open-source materials in place of textbooks, an initiative that could save students as much as $1,300 a year. Such open educational resources - created using open licenses that let students download or print materials for free - have gained popularity as the price of print textbooks have skyrocketed, but courses that use the materials remain a novelty in higher education. Achieving the Dream, an education advocacy group based in Silver Spring, Md., aims to change that by offering $9.8 million in grants to support the development of open-source degree programs at 38 colleges in 13 states. Officials at Achieving the Dream say there are enough open-source materials to replace textbooks in all required courses for degrees in business administration, general education, computer science and social science. The initiative will [benefit] at least 76,000 students. The schools will turn the material into a digital library for public consumption. Print textbook prices have climbed 82 percent in the past decade, [and] can account for a third of the costs community college students encounter.
The question of what happens when we die is a mysterious one. But for some who have been through near-death experiences, the question has a clear answer. Anita Moorjani ... shared her story. "I crossed over into the afterlife and back," said Moorjani. Diagnosed with lymphoma in 2002, Moorjani ... was losing her cancer battle, withering down to just 85 pounds and battling tumors. She slipped into a coma in February 2006. She said that’s when she died and crossed over to an afterlife. “I felt as though I was above my body,” she said. “It was like I had 360-degree peripheral vision of the whole area.” According to [her] book "Dying To Be Me", she was reunited in that state with her late father, who told her to turn back. “But I felt I didn't want to turn back, because it was so beautiful. It was just incredible, because, for the first time, all the pain had gone. And I felt as though I was enveloped in this feeling of just love. Unconditional love.” Citing an “incredible clarity,” she said she decided to return to her body because she believed “it would heal very, very quickly.” It did. “Within four days, my tumors shrunk by 70 percent, and the doctors were shocked,” she said. “And I kept telling everyone that, ‘I know I'm going to be okay. I know it’s not my time to die.’” Moorjani isn’t alone in connecting a "crossing over" experience to healing.
Note: Read an awesomely inspiring essay on Anita's incredible journey through death. The above article also introduces the healing of 8-year-old Annabel Beam after a near-death experience. Annabel's story is detailed in the book “Miracles from Heaven”. For more, explore concise summaries of NDE news articles and other fascinating resources on this incredible topic.
North Dakotans on Tuesday soundly rejected a law enacted last year that changed decades of family-farming rules in the state by allowing corporations to own and operate dairy and hog farms. Some 75 percent of North Dakotans who went to the ballot box voted to repeal Senate Bill 2351. The law ... exempted dairy and swine production from the state's Depression-era corporate farming prohibition. The North Dakota Farmers Union and other groups that collected signatures to put the referendum on the ballot said family farmers cannot compete with large agricultural firms with no ties to the communities where they operate. Corporate and foreign control of U.S. farmland has been a hot-button issue in several major agricultural states in recent years. State laws prohibiting corporations and foreign entities from owning U.S. farmland complicated a $4.7 billion acquisition in 2013 of U.S. pork producer Smithfield Foods by China's Shuanghui International. The deal ultimately closed. This February, a U.S. district judge issued an injunction barring Nebraska officials from enforcing the state's ban on farmland ownership by corporations. North Dakota, with about 740,000 residents, has a heavily agricultural economy. It is one of nine states that have laws limiting corporate farming, according to the National Agricultural Law Center. The North Dakota law says farming or ranching companies must have no more than 15 shareholders or members who must belong to the same family, to a distance of first cousins.
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