Lego Collection Pays Tribute To Female Space Heroes

Lego’s transition into bio-plastics is probably one of their greatest achievements to date. Having said that, the company has inspired children (and adults!) to think big for decades. Its most recent collection honors the women of NASA, validating that success doesn’t rely on gender.

“In all realms of science, engineering, and technology, pioneering women have historically been underappreciated for their often groundbreaking work,”[MIT News Deputy Editor and Lecturer Maia Weinstock who proposed the idea] said in a statement.

This is truly a big move, considering how the usual Lego collection depicts fantastical universes like Star Wars or Minecraft. Not only is the company pandering to the interests of young girls now, they are doing so with an inspirational agenda.

The set’s figures include Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel to space, and Margaret Hamilton, who developed software for the Apollo spacecraft. It will also come with miniatures of the Hubble Telescope and Space Shuttle, among other tools. Lego hopes to encourage more girls to explore various branches of science.

[Weinstock added,] “We have also seen that when girls and women are given more encouragement in the STEM fields, they become more likely to pursue careers in these areas.”

Remember, girls — science is, of course, also for you. And forget “nerdy.” Microscopes and bunsen burners are the new “cool.”

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Paralyzed Woman Writes Book Using Only Her Eyes

Locked-in syndrome is a condition where the person loses all muscle control or becomes entirely paralyzed, while maintaining most cognitive functions. In simple terms, this means they can still think and feel, but cannot move or speak. Some people, however, have found technological leads on how to help locked-in patients communicate, such as this nanoscience professor who created a computer interface that helps them identify letters and words using only their eyes.

Using a similar device, a woman diagnosed with the syndrome wrote an entire book about her experience. Mia Austin was only 21 years old when she suffered a stroke that left her paralyzed, but now at 29, she finished her book In the Blink of an Eye using only eye movement, a spelling chart at first, and eventually the specialized computer.

Her mother Carole, 62, recalls: “She [Austin] was in the hospital for around 14 months and writing poems and stories kept her alert and occupied. I think the idea [for the book] stemmed from there really.”

According to her father Rick, the book took about a year to write. Meanwhile, Mia’s siblings also helped in her process, especially with the spelling chart, which took a lot of energy and made Mia exhausted. Despite this, Mia just doesn’t seem to run out of achievements.

The book is by no means Austin’s only incredible feat of determination. She completed a criminology course at Wirral Metropolitan College in 2017 before signing up for a forensics course with the Open University. And this year she will begin another course in criminal justice.

Aside from academics, Mia is also incredibly engaged in charity work. She launched a campaign for disabled travellers. She participated in awareness projects for homelessness. She has been on aid missions to orphanages even outside the country.

In an interview with The Mirror, Austin explained her desire to give back to the charities that have supported her. She said: “I love to take part in new challenges to prove I can succeed despite my condition. I also want to support various charities because I have received help myself in the past.”

Mia’s story sort of robs us of any excuse to waste our energy today, doesn’t it? It could just as well inspire us to push our minds and bodies to the limit from here on out.

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Artist Creates Dolls With Vitiligo To Inspire Young Girls

More and more, people are becoming comfortable in their own skin. Plus-size model Natalie Hage shut down a fat-shamer who ridiculed her on an airplane. While the confrontation was awkward, it needed to happen. And anyway, who isn’t in love with their own curves? It’s 2018. Then again, it’s safe to say body positivity still isn’t present everywhere, especially for younger girls.

To combat this, Artist Kay Black is inspiring vitiligo sufferers, specifically, by creating dolls with rare skin conditions.

[Kay Black] began making the dolls as a hobby alongside her “normal” job. She said, “I’m motivated by everyday people I see walking up and down the streets.”

The dolls with vitiligo are made special for each customer and have been praised by a number of celebrities. But Black isn’t after fame — she just wants her buyers to feel appreciated.

“People are literally in tears when they get their dolls. I want to create dolls everyone can relate to.”

She also creates a plethora of other dolls that break the rather dangerous standards set by certain world-renowned toy companies. Other than the dolls with vitiligo, Black customizes ones with realistic features such as freckles or curly hair. This makes them super relatable for young girls.

In line with Black’s advocacy, a model with the skin condition even spoke up regarding her own life. Attached to a selfie showing Winnie Harlow’s whole body is her inspiring message.

“The real difference isn’t my skin. It’s the fact that I don’t find my beauty in the opinions of others. I’m beautiful because I know it. Celebrate Your unique beauty today (& everyday)!”

Making friends with your flaws isn’t the easiest — but it certainly is a step in the right direction. Thanks to people like Black and Harlow, young girls may be motivated to discover how to sincerely love themselves.

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Superhero Pope Francis Shirts Help the Poor

There are a dozen different ways to help the poor outside of huge monetary donations. This Anatolian restaurant is feeding the needy for free. This Philippine community is building bleach lamps from plastic bottles for households without electricity. Graffiti artist MauPal is using Pope Francis as an icon of hope, creating “Superpope” t-shirts to help Vatican-sponsored charities.

“With the economic and social crisis that hit Italy and the world, I saw Francis as a symbol of hope for all,” the artist said.

“I graphically summed up a widely-shared opinion of the pope as someone with a lot of power who is also humane and humble at the same time.”

The Pope Francis shirts aren’t MauPal’s only masterpieces. In previous years, the artist depicted the Pope in various playful forms as street art. However, city cleaners were less than pleased, scrubbing the works off walls near St. Peter’s Basilica.

It was only after that MauPal made the remaining sketches appear on the Pope Francis shirts. And while some are also not appreciative of the cartoon tees, the Pope himself has expressed his approval.

“I offered him the drawing I had painted on a simple piece of wood, a medium I thought fit his (anti-luxury) philosophy. He looked at me, he smiled at me, then he affectionately pinched my cheek,” MauPal said.

If the Pope himself gives a thumbs-up to your work of kindness, you must be doing something right. And more importantly, if the Pope has given your artwork the smiley rubber stamp, well, I’d say you must be pretty skilled with a pencil!

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Map Shows Literal Translation of Country Names

Not everyone who has walked through the beautiful pueblos of Spain knows that the country is named after rabbits. Likewise, you may have revelled in the sun-kissed beaches of Maldives, not knowing that the natives called their place a garland of islands. A beautiful name for a beautiful place, really. In an awesomely nerdy project that indulges our interest in travel, the Australian company Credit Card Compare created a map with the literal meaning of all the country names in the world.

“Learning the etymology – the origin of words – of countries around the world offers us fascinating insight into the origins of some of our favourite travel destinations and the people who first lived there,” the company says. Zooming in on continents and regions, from Europe to South America and Africa, the map offers a different perspective.

Varied reactions sprung up online, ranging from pure fascination to a personal need to verify the facts and study further, but one thing is for sure: the company’s research provides us with valuable insight to see the places we have been and the places we have yet to be in a new light.

“The interest has been enormous far beyond Australia because of some of the unexpected names. People are contacting us with their positive feedback and reasons for some corrections to one or two names. We plan to release even high-def downloads suitable for big poster-sized prints.”

A while ago, I wrote about the many different ways you can maximize your weekend. It could be difficult—though definitely not impossible!—to cram an exhilarating getaway in that two-day window. But sometimes, when you cannot go out there yet and travel, relaxing at home and making discoveries about the places you dream to explore could suffice. Make yourself a hot chocolate or a mojito, cozy up, and start with this map.

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The Real History Behind Mother’s Day

Time and time again, a mother proves herself to be a great blessing to those around her. Sometimes, it takes a lot of sacrifice, as shown to us by a mother who chose to forgo cancer treatment to save her baby. Sometimes, it can be in the seemingly little things, like this mom’s viral post on social media promoting depression awareness.

Other times, a mother shares her kindness to people not even her real children, as in the case of this woman donating 5,000 pints of breast milk to gay couples and parents of premature babies, this woman adopting her former student who has been in the foster system since he was nine, or even this group of stay-at-home female doctors providing online consultations to the poor.

Mother’s Day is a tribute to people like them, for sure. But beyond the flowers, fancy gifts in pastel wrapping paper, and delightful brunches, the real history behind the holiday has a lot more to do with peace activism and anti-war sentiments.

A woman named Anna Jarvis started a campaign for an official holiday honoring mothers in 1905, the year her own mother died . . . Over the next few years, Jarvis pushed to have the holiday officially recognized . . . Finally, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation making Mother’s Day an official holiday, to take place the second Sunday of May.

Anna Jarvis put Mother’s Day on the calendar as a day dedicated to expressing love and gratitude to mothers, acknowledging the sacrifices women make for their children.

If you’ve ever experienced confusion on where the apostrophe falls, don’t worry. I think all of us have. However, even in the 1900s, Anna Jarvis was determined to make it a singular possessive, with the apostrophe coming before the s. She believed that each mother in each family has to be recognized, and so, each mother deserves to feel like it’s her own day.

But again, like I’ve teased earlier, the history of Mother’s Day has even deeper roots. Where did Anna Jarvis get the idea to push for her agenda? That’s right — the answer, of course, is her own mom.

[Ann Reeves Jarvis] played an important role uniting women for good causes. [She] cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the field during the Civil War, and in its aftermath she organized a “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” the goal of which was to foster reconciliation between former Union and Confederate soldiers by having them come together, along with mothers from both sides.

In an attempt to stop the violence brought upon by the American Civil War, Ann Reeves Jarvis wanted to rally mothers. Her entire life was spent promoting peace and childcare, especially in the midst of war. No wonder her daughter wanted to pay tribute to motherhood.

Years later, daughter Anna Jarvis lobbied against the commercialization of the holiday. She thought that the whole point of Mother’s Day was defeated by how florists, card-makers, and other businesses profit so much from it. And I agree, though I won’t protest the existence of the holiday itself. This Mother’s Day, we might want to look beyond the fancy-shmancy stuff in shops and restaurants. Perhaps we might also want to recognize the day’s roots in women’s activism, and celebrate some recent gender milestones.

Then again, I think it’s okay to spoil your mom just a little. After all, we should remember where the apostrophe falls. This Mother’s Day, it’s okay to get your mom carnations if she loves them. It’s okay to have afternoon tea with pretty pastries. Just don’t forget what this day really is about: her.

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Stay-at-Home Female Doctors Serve the Poor Online

Women have been slowly but surely breaking the barriers that have been set for them in the past centuries. A beauty queen with Down’s syndrome made history, single mothers run startup companies, more women are fighting back against sexual harassment and even lead hundreds of people to resuscitate a dead river.

Here’s to another amazing woman. A female Pakistani doctor recognized the odds stacked against physicians in her context, and acted to provide more flexible options for women in the medical industry. Dr. Iffat Aga founded a platform to connect home-based female doctors to poor communities.

Sehat Kahani is a revolutionary tele-health platform that connects at-home, out-of-work doctors who can provide quality health care to underprivileged patients in low and middle-income markets.

The organization currently constitutes a network of 14 facilities across Pakistan which have served more than 550,000 patients. When a patient visits the clinic, a nurse logs their basic medical history, and then doctors are called in to continue the consultation through a video conferencing system.

The percentage of women in local medical schools are higher than those of men, but less than half of these women eventually end up as practitioners because they believe they need to nurture their families first. Because of the responsibility weighing down on them, female doctors stop pursuing their careers.  Dr. Iffat knew this problem needed a solution, so she partnered up with women who similarly understood — and perhaps personally experienced — the crisis, and together they built Sehat Kehani.

With a vision to create an all-female health provider network, Sehat Kahani simultaneously promotes women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship, and the basic need for affordable, quality healthcare in rural and urban communities – all without the doctors ever having to leave their homes.

It is truly an inspirational balancing act to target both the issues of gender inequality and poverty at the same time. Women are not only fighting for their own rights; they are doing so in order to join larger fights.

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103-Year-Old Gets Sweet and Furry Birthday Surprise

By now, the relationship between humans and dogs is understood by many as no doubt profound, especially through stories like how shelter dogs learned to aid in the therapy of veterans suffering from PTSD or how a man went to great lengths to return an abandoned dog home. I suppose it’s just a case-to-case question of the level of depth or intimacy of the friendship between species.

However, someone equally sweet and equally furry can also provide a deep connection to human friends. Last April, in an inspirational birthday surprise, a 103-year-old woman named Lillian Grant was gifted with a new kitty friend.

Debbie Presland, the administrator at Ridgeview Gardens Assisted Living in St. George, Utah, where Grant lives, asked the centenarian what she’d want if she could pick anything in the world for her birthday present. “A sweet cat like Sammy,” she said, according to Presland.

Sammy was Grant’s beloved cat who passed away about a year ago. Seeing Grant so obviously still heartbroken, Presland wanted to make her wish come true. Along with her brother Joseph Harradine who was an officer at St. George Animal Shelter, they picked out a previously abandoned cat named Marley.

Right before bringing out her birthday cake, Presland told Grant they had a special surprise for her. Harradine brought out Marley and Grant started cuddling her. “The cat just took to her immediately,” Presland told TODAY.

Grant seemed to think that her present was just Marley’s visit. She initially didn’t realize that the cat was going to be hers. When Grant found out that Marley now belonged to her, the 103-year-old woman was almost in tears. Presland herself almost cried as well.

“Just to see her reaction choked me up . . . It was so sweet.”

After the birthday surprise, Grant and Marley are already inseparable. When two lonely species meet, it seems they can give each other life and be each other’s happiness, which makes me want to say… a shelter cat might as well be a woman’s best friend, eh?

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Late Menopause May Benefit Women’s Memory

The past few years have seen an increase in various research studies about women’s health that have truly been a long time coming. One example is New Delhi’s move to proliferate biodegradable sanitary pads which not only addresses women’s reproductive needs but also the needs of our environment.

Recently, a new study led by Diana Kuh from University College London in the United Kingdom looked at how the late onset of menopause may benefit the memory of women later in their lives. By using data from 1,315 women, they found out that women whose menopause occurred naturally and later in life scored higher on the memory assessment tests that they conducted.

Kuh comments on the findings, saying, “The difference in verbal memory scores for a 10-year difference in the start of menopause was small — recalling only one additional word, but it’s possible that this benefit could translate to a reduced risk of dementia years later.”

However, she adds, “More research and follow-up are needed to determine whether that is the case.”

The study’s scope also included other aspects about the women’s health like whether they were taking hormone replacement therapy, whether they had a hysterectomy, their cognitive ability since childhood, as well as social factors like their education and line of work.

Kuh and her colleagues conclude: “Our findings suggest lifelong hormonal processes, not just short-term fluctuations during the menopause transition, may be associated with verbal memory, consistent with evidence from a variety of neurobiological studies.”

Of course, I agree with Dr. Kuh’s statement. Further research is definitely necessary. I also think, as seen in the recently-won fight for equal pay like in Nordic countries such as Iceland, that perhaps more and more institutions and organizations would see the importance of studying and addressing women’s concerns, as more and more women around the world push further for their rights.

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San Diego Assists 1,000 Homeless Veterans

Homelessness continues to be a pressing issue across the globe. At least 100 million people live off the streets, but good samaritans are doing what they can to help. Australian charity Every Little Bit Helps donates unused hotel toiletries to shelters. Studio Elmo Vemijs in the Netherlands recently erected a solar-powered village for transients. A blockchain program will be used by Austin to provide identity services to the homeless.  To top it off, Housing Our Heroes in San Diego has successfully placed 1,007 veterans in rental homes.

Three large industrial tent structures that will shelter about 250 homeless people each are planned to be installed by the end of the year, and on Monday a city-sanctioned homeless encampment will open to about 200 people in response to a hepatitis A outbreak.

Among the 9,116 homeless veterans in the county, 5,619 are in San Diego. Housing Our Heroes hopes to assist another thousand veterans in the next 15 months. In regards to apartments, HOH offers incentives to various landlords. However, proprietor Jimmie Robinson says providing a space is not about the money.

“When you get to meet them, the satisfaction of helping people turn their lives around was more important,” he said. “When you see somebody rebuilding their lives, that’s what it’s become for me, more than than the incentives.”

Hopefully, in the coming years, we’ll get to greet all homeless veterans with a warm welcome home.

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