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Real Life Heroes

Real life heroes

French-Swiss artist creates “largest human chain in the world” as a symbol of unity

Guillaume Legros

Guillaume Legros, known as Saype (Instagram), is a self-taught artist with big goals and big projects. His latest and biggest project is called Beyond Walls and symbolizes unity.

In a polarized world, where there’s more focus on each other’s differences than similarities, Saype is creating the largest human chain ever created. In 2024, he aims to have visited more than 30 cities around the world across all continents, “to invite people to help each other, to be benevolent and to live together”.

                                                              Guillaume Legros

The artworks from this project are massive intertwined hands, painted on grass.

Currently, Guillaume has painted the huge hands in seven cities across the world. He started in Paris at the foot of the famous Eiffel Tower. In one year, Andorra, Geneva, Berlin, Ouagadougou, Yamoussoukro and Turin followed.

                                                                Guillaume Legros

In Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast, he painted his biggest surface yet: 18,000m2. It’s painted around one of the biggest religious buildings worldwide, the Notre-Dame de la Paix Basilica.

It took the artist a year to develop biodegradable paint, which is sustainable and wouldn’t hurt the environment. The paint disappears after between 2 weeks and two months, depending on the weather and the growth of the grass.

                                                                Guillaume Legros

Since he was fourteen, Saype has been making public art. It started with graffiti, and it evolved to making the biggest paintings in history. His artworks have been seen all around the world, by hundreds of millions of people. He became one of the most publicized artists of 2019 and earned a spot in the Forbes thirty most influential people under the age of thirty, in the field of Art and Culture.

                                                               Guillaume Legros

5-year old live streams meditation, raises $29K for Christmas toys for homeless children

New York, USA

Some people are just born inspirers. Bond Hill, a 5-year old boy from Brooklyn is that kind of person.

Bond Hill raised over $29,000 during his live 20-minute meditation. The money goes towards the Coalition for the Homeless, a charity that provides Christmas gifts for less fortunate children in New York. 

“I just didn’t want the kids to be sad on Christmas,” Bond told The New York Post. “It’s not fair that some kids get toys and other kids don’t.”

Bond meditates every day and he’s been doing so since he was just 18 months old, according to his mother. His meditations are usually around 5 minutes, while in this meditation ‘marathon’ he meditated for 24 minutes as a tribute to LA Lakers’ #24, Kobe Bryant.

Bond was a big fan of Kobe. Not only because “he was really good”, as Bond told The NY Post, “He meditated too.”

His initial target was $2,000. But thanks to help from his parents and his GoFundMe campaign spreading on the internet like wildfire, he has now raised $29,510! With help of Bond’s selfless actions, the Coalition for the Homeless was able to gift toys to the 19,000 children living in New York City shelters.

Bond and his parents plan to make mediating for charity an annual Christmas tradition.

“Hopefully this will extend into the classrooms and into more people’s homes,” Sapphira told The NY Post. “So that at the end of the day, we can instil [the importance of meditation and giving back] into this generation. Then, our future looks a little bit brighter.”

 

4th Grader helps Blind 9th Grader Run Cross Country

West Fork, Arkansas, United States

Facebook – Kare 11

9th grader Paul Scott is blind, but that doesn’t stop him from running cross country. With help of fourth grader Rebel Hays, who navigates Paul through the courses with a rope, Paul is able to participate in cross country races.

Rebel is just 11 years old and is a born runner, and helper. With Paul, he runs for West Fork High School in West Fork, Arkansas. Because he’s competing with much older kids, Rebel says he trains every day. “If I don’t run this distance, it’s like I’m cheating on Paul. I can’t cheat on Paul so, I have to run this distance, or this time no matter what,” says Hays.

The power duo started with two-mile races, but now they’re doing 5K (3.1 miles). Rebel’s individual record for the 5K is below 20 minutes, and his goal is to run the 5K together with Paul below 20 minutes as well. “I have to do it for Paul,” he says.

Rebel eventually wants to participate in the Olympics and we’re positive he’ll get there one day.

 

Single man who grew up in foster care adopts five siblings to prevent them being separated

Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Facebook

Robert Carter, a 29 year old man from Cincinnati, Ohio, adopted an entire family of five siblings between age four and ten, because he didn’t want them to be separated.

Carter adopted Marionna, Makayla, Robert, Giovanni, and Kiontae. In December 2019, Carter started fostering the three boys – Robert, Giovanni and Kiontae – but soon discovered they had two sisters who they had been separated from for six months.

Robert Carter spent years in foster care himself, where he couldn’t have contact with his younger sister and brother. So, when he was asked why he chose to take such a big leap of faith, he explained that he personally experienced what it’s like to be separated from his biological family.

“The kids saw each other and started hugging and crying and wouldn’t let go,” Carter said. “That was the moment I said ‘okay I’m going to take all five.’”

Right now, Carter is working on gaining their trust and at the same time working hard to be able to buy a bigger home. A GoFundMe was started to raise money to help pay the house, with a $150,000 goal. Thanks to the power of the internet, that target is already exceeded and the counter is currently on $260,000.

Indian teacher wins $1M Global Teacher Prize, shares half with other finalists

Paritewadi, Maharashtra, India

Indian teacher Ranjitsinh Disale won the Global Teacher Prize 2020. An award that’s given annually, to a teacher that made an outstanding contribution to their profession. 

Ranjitsinh Disale teaches at Zilla Parishad Primary School, in the village of Paritewadi in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. He changed lives, especially for young girls in the region, by giving them more opportunities.

When Disale arrived at the primary school in 2009, school attendance could be as low as 2% for girls and teenage marriage was a common practice in the communities. The quality of the education was low, since the curriculum language was not in their mother language, making it impossible for some students to understand.

Ranjitsinh went to great lengths to change this, and started to learn the local language. He then translated the class textbooks into the student’s primary language (Kannada), and created unique QR codes to provide the children with video lectures, assignments and other recourses. Disale asked for feedback from the students and would change the content, activities and assignments in the QR coded textbooks, so every student would get a personalized learning experience.

Ranjitsinh has made a significant difference in the village: school attendance for girls is now at 100 percent and there are no child marriages anymore. The school was also awarded as best school in the district, as 85 percent of students achieved A grades in exams.

When Ranjitsinh won, he decided to donate 50% of the prize money among the other ten finalists. He said, with sparkles in his eyes:

“Teachers are the real change-makers who are changing the lives of their students with a mixture of chalk and challenges. They always believe in giving and sharing.

And therefore, I am very pleased to announce that I will share 50% of the prize money equally among my fellow Top 10 finalists to support their incredible work. I believe, together, we can change this world because sharing is growing” (Als mooie quote layout!!)

With the rest of the money, Disale wants to launch a Peace Army for students who have been affected by war, all over the world. His goal is to recruit at least 5,000 people every year.

Some teachers really deserve the world.

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Other great news

Other great news

Studies show that just saying “hello” to your bus driver can increase your happiness and wellbeing

Pixelbay

Ankara, Turkey

You might have heard the saying “happiness comes from small things.” But what are these “small things”? Could simple, social interactions, as small as saying “hello” or “thank you” to a stranger such as a bus driver, have a significant positive impact on your happiness and wellbeing?

According to two new studies that have been published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, the answer is yes. In their research, they found that just greeting or showing gratitude towards bus drivers, led to significant increase in feelings of happiness and wellbeing.

The first study consisted of surveying 856 participants. They all were asked questions about the following topics:

  • How often they greet or thank their bus drivers.
  • How often they have a neutral conversation with their bus drivers (e.g. asking for directions).
  • How often they experience overall feelings of happiness, cheerfulness and calmness.

The results show that participants who initiated “positive social interactions” with the drivers more often, experience more happiness and satisfaction in their lives. Only having neutral conversations did not show this result.

The second study  was more practical: 265 travellers were split into two groups.

The first half were told to have a positive interaction with their driver, by saying “have a nice day” or “thank you” and making eye contact upon leaving the bus.

The second half was told not to speak, nor have eye contact with the driver.

After the experiment, the participants in the first group reported significantly more positive feelings than the commuters in the second group.

These outcomes suggest that well-wishing and expressions of gratitude to strangers are a legitimate source of happiness.

The results might sound obvious, but only a small number of people actually do it. So, when you’re having a tough or stressed day, wish the person that provides service to you a wonderful day and show gratitude. Better yet, make it a consistent habit, regardless how your day is going!

Common roadside weed could help stop growth of breast cancer cells

Wiley

London, United Kingdom

A roadside weed, Arabidopsis thaliana, can help stop the growth of breast cancer cells, a new study finds. A research led by English professor Allesandra Devoto at the University of London shows hopeful results for potentially a natural treatment.

 

The team treated the leaves of the Arabidopsis thaliana with the plant hormone Jasmonate (a substance in jasmine that boosts plant responses to stress). Then they incubated the treated leaves with breast cancer cells.

The results, published in the New Phytologist, showed that not only the breast cancer cells stopped growing, the experiment also left normal, healthy cells untouched. This is a significant find, as the use of this leaves could potentially have great positive results, with fewer side-effects compared to usual chemical treatments.

Professor Devoto has been researching this subject since 2006 and the results of the studies were only published in September 2020. She said: “Along with my colleagues from Brunel and Exeter, I am truly excited to have discovered the amazing impact this unassuming plant has on breast cancer cells. It just proves that even plants with a non-medicinal pedigree can work for cancer treatment.”

Co-authors of the research Dr Amanda Harvey at Brunel University London, and Professor Nicholas Smirnoff at University of Exeter say the next step is to identify which exact compounds made by Thale cress are killing the cancer.

Alberta is the first province to eliminate fees for addiction recovery programs.

Alberta, Canada

In Alberta, Canada, the cost of addiction recovery treatment went from $1,200 a month, to $0, thanks to a major shift in the way the Alberta government is funding addictions recovery. It’s the first time a province has thrown out fees for people to attend a treatment centre.

The $40 daily cost will be covered for everyone who does not have the health insurance plans that would cover the cost. Residents can now go the 72 licensed, publicly funded treatment centres in the province, for free.

 

“For the first time in Alberta’s history, publicly funded addiction treatment will be extended to all Albertans,” says Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan.

Luan said families shouldn’t have to sell a vehicle or refinance a mortgage to pay for addictions treatment programs. The cost was a huge hurdle, and one he wanted to eliminate.

The investment is not only positive for people that need help, but according to calculations from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, also for the economy. When help is not given in time, eventually the costs for health services, police, courts, corrections and lost productivity would greatly exceed the addiction recovery programs. For every dollar invested in prevention can save another $12 down the road, Luan said. 

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Business

Business

Girl growing up in wheelchair designs wheelchairs that fit people’s personalities

Instagram Izzy Wheels

Dublin, Ireland

‘If you can’t stand up, stand out’: the motto of the inspiring sisters Izzy and Ailbhe, who turn wheelchairs in works of art.

Izzy Keane was born with Spina Bifida and is paralyzed from her waist down. Her wheelchair has always been one of her most important possessions, as it lets her move wherever she wants to go. Although it’s always with her, she never felt it expressed her personality. 

Izzy found it frustrating that there weren’t any possibilities to personalize her wheelchair, Ailbhe Keane told Good Morning America. “Her mechanical chair was the first thing that people noticed about her, but it wasn’t a reflection of her bright and bubbly personality. She has a very positive relationship with her wheelchair and sees her disability as a major part of her identity.”

That’s why Ailbhe, her older sister, helped create different colourful wheel covers for Izzy’s chair as her final year college project in 2016 at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ireland.

Izzy and Ailbhe have always had a special bond. As little kids, they loved to dress up together and decorate Izzy’s chair for special occasions.

Now, little over four years after starting the brand, they’ve worked with some of the world’s most famous companies and sold decorations all over the world. In 2019, the sisters collaborated with Barbie and in 2020, they teamed up with Hello Kitty to create new collections.

They’ve been featured in many big newspapers, as well as the Forbes 30 under 30: Retail & E-commerce  in 2018.

“Our mission with Izzy Wheels is to challenge negative associations with wheelchairs and let users celebrate their individuality by personalizing their source of independence. We want to show the world that wheelchairs can be so much more than a medical device, they can be a piece of artistic self-expression” – Ailbhe.

Making designs and actually putting it on the market gives Izzy a big confidence boost. It also helps as a great, positive conversation starter.

Customer leaves $3,000 tip after buying a beer as restaurant has to close due to COVID restrictions.

Facebook Branden Ring

Cleveland, Ohio, United States

A man in Cleveland, Ohio, left a three thousand dollar tip for a single beer at restaurant Nighttown that closed because of COVID-19.

It happened the last day the place was open. The customer walked in, ordered a beer and asked for the check. The owner of the restaurant, Brendan Ring, shared the receipt on Facebook, which came to $7.02. 

As the man walked away, he wished Ring well and told him to share the tip with his co-workers. “I looked down at the tip and realized he left a whopping $3,000 tip on a single beer purchase,” Ring said. “I ran after him and he said: ‘no mistake, we will see you when you reopen!’”

Former Amazon Employee Develops App to Translate Cat Meows into Words

Facebook Meowtalk

United States

A former Amazon engineer created an app to answer the question every cat owner has: What is my cat trying to tell me?

Javier Sanchez, the creator of the app MeowTalk, worked on Amazon’s Alexa and is now project manager at tech company Akvelon. 

Users can record sounds their cats make. According to the developers, the app can then identify what the cats mean, e.g. if they’re hungry or angry. With help of artificial intelligence, the app learns to identify new sounds and compare them to old sounds and translations, so the app will improve over time.

“It’s not a language. They don’t share words or communicate with each other. Cats never meow at each other out in nature,” Sanchez told the local NBC affiliate about meows.

Adult cats do meow to their owners, presumably because they discovered that it gets their owners to do what they want like stroking, feeding or letting them out of the house.

In the app there are currently twelve translations available, which include messages as ‘Feed me!’, ‘Let me out’, ‘Hello’, ‘I’m in pain’, and ‘I’m in love’. In the future, more might be added as the database expands and more meanings are discovered.

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Environment

Environment

Record Number of turtles at risk of extinction hatch on Mexican beach

AZPM 

This year, a record number of endangered sea turtles hatched in the Gulf of California in Mexico. Usually, only 500-1,000 Olive Ridley turtles hatch in one year. Now there were over 2,250 released, with help of an Indigenous community; Tortugueros del Desemboque.

Due to the limited tourism and fishing, the place in Sonora was hit hard by the effect of the coronavirus, especially economically. But every disadvantage has its advantage: the empty beaches caused this miracle to happen, and it brought joy and healing for the community.

                                                                   AZPM

Although the Olive Ridley sea turtle is the most abundant of all sea turtles, they are still an endangered species. There is only a small number of beaches where they nest, and therefore any disturbance to one of those places can have a big impact on the total existence.

Couple from New Zealand refuse millions from developers and donate over 2,200 acres of land to nation

QEII National Trust

A gorgeous stretch of land near Queenstown, New Zealand, will be gifted to the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust (QEII) to ensure the landscape and biodiversity in the area is protected.

Dick and Jillian Jardine, the owners of the land Remarkables Station, will hand over the land in 2022. It will ensure that this beautiful landscape will remain unspoilt forever. The gifted property is freehold land, currently leased as a working farm, and that will continue for the foreseeable future.

It’s located on the edge of the Wakatipu lake. Open landscapes in this area have come under pressure from subdivisions and commercial developers. The property is worth millions and the couple has received multiple offers from developers.

QEII National Trust

However, Dick and Jillian Jardine are determined to maintain the landscape as it is: “Having QEII as the caretaker of this property gives us the comfort and assurance to proudly pass over this gift for all New Zealand to enjoy and appreciate,” Dick said.

The property will be accessible for residents and tourists, to connect with nature. Especially during the COVID-19 restrictions, people have benefited from the calmness and beauty of nature, and realised the importance of looking after magnificent landscapes like the Remarkables Station.

A massive coral reef discovered in Australia

Schmidt Ocean Institute

Scientists have discovered a 500m (1,640ft) high coral reef, detached from the Great Barrier Reef in Northern Australia. It’s the first discovery of its kind in 120 years. The reef is taller than the Empire State Building, with the shallowest point at only 40 metres below surface level.

Scientists from the Schmidt Ocean Institute discovered it while 3D mapping the sea floor in the area, and explored the reef later using a the institute’s underwater robot.

       Schmidt Ocean Institute

This discovery is one of the many they did this year. The Schmidt Ocean Institute and its scientists found up to 30 new animal species and five coral species. This proves that the mysterious underwater-world is still far from fully explored, but every year we’re getting a tiny bit closer.

Don’t forget the planet’s beauty: here are some of the Siena Award winning photos.

Frozen Mobile Home, by Greg Lecoeur

Sometimes, we can get caught up with all the negative events, opinions and thoughts that are going on. We forget we live on this incredible planet, of which we happen to be part of. 

Here are a few of the Siena Award winning photos and honourable mentions, made by skilled artists who bring the tiny, precious details in perspective, to remind you of the art we call nature, which we often take for granted.

Icebergs are mysterious habitats that provide a source of life, and not only as shelter to big animals as Crabeater seals as seen in the photo. Icebergs fertilize oceans and help develop phytoplankton, as they slowly rotate through polar currents. Phytoplankton can take up carbon dioxide through photosynthesis just like trees and other plants do. Thich makes icebergs even more special.

Nipa Palm Forest by Khanh Phan

Nipa Palm Forest by Khanh Phan

The Nipa Palm Forest of Quang Ngai constitutes a rich ecosystem that serves as a green lung for the eastern part of the city of Quang Ngai and a fishing reserve for the local population.

Think different by Pietro Formis

Big-scale sand smelts swim in schools of fish to protect themselves from predators. This one curious fish takes a peak at a moon jellyfish, sacrificing its own safety for the rest of the group.

Sub Zero by Tobias Friedrich
www.below-surface.com 

Night diving at a temperature of minus two degrees Celsius in Eastern Greenland, swimming among icebergs under the ice of a fjord.

Green Crown by Juan Garcia Lucas

One of the most impressive beech trees forest in Europe is the “Enchanted Forest of Urbasa,” in Navarra. When the fog floods everything, the silence becomes deafening and the atmosphere enchanted.

Night Hunter by Jonas Classon

The Great Grey Owl is well known for its extreme hunting skills. Classon: “After working on a story about this owl for many weeks in a row, I finally got the shot conveying all I wanted to show in one single frame. I captured the owl seconds before it attacked a vole under a full moon night. It truly is a hunter of the night.”

The World is Going Upside Down by Thomas Vijayan

This Orangutan perfectly describes the world in 2020: upside down. . The name Orangutan origins from the Malay language, and means “man of the forest”.  Bornean Orangutans are recognizable by their broad face and big size (second-largest ape after the gorilla). Males can weigh up to 200 pounds