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Time for some more good news!

Today we would like to share positive news!  May these serve as a reminder that good things are always happening all around the world. 

Our reporters are: 

Unikids- Madeline Morrill and Emilio Collazo-Falcon
Uniteens- Gabriel Trahan and Omar Collazo-Falcon
Youth of Unity- Gabriel Collazo-Falcon

Remarkable Teen Leads Peaceful Detroit Protest, Gets Call From Mayor: ‘I saw your leadership; I’m in tears.’

16-year-old Stefan Perez began marching into downtown Detroit with 15 people. More and more joined him until he became an unwitting leader of a large crowd. Above all else, the Michigan teen vowed to keep everyone in line and get them back home safely.

At the end of the march, after no looting or fights, he urged the protesters to comply with the city’s 8 p.m. curfew so that no one would get hurt. With a megaphone thrust into his hand, he kept the protesters calm, even though he said “they were scared,” and some of them tried to defy his peaceful intentions.

“I tried to keep everybody together, I tried to keep everybody as a collective group, and we marched,” he told The Detroit Free Press. “I’m surprised people listened to me. I’m glad they did because they’re not hurt right now, ‘cause they could be.”

While the reporter was interviewing the young activist, Mayor Mike Duggan called on someone’s phone and the call was broadcast via speakerphone on Facebook Live.

“Son, I was watching the video and I saw your leadership. I have tears in my eyes, said the mayor. “You are everything that’s special about the city of Detroit… We’re going to fight this injustice because of people like you.

The previous evening, the first night of the curfew, things had become tense in the Motor City as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets when protesters refused to disburse. Stefan, whose ancestors are African-American, Mexican, Puerto Rican and Nicaraguan, was more interested in taking a knee in peaceful solidarity when the crowd reached Michigan Avenue on Monday.  WATCH the LIVE interview (and hear the mayor’s call at around 5:00)… https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2436955199929932

Teen Invents Wristband That Could Curb Infection by Warning Users Against Touching Their Face

This teenage entrepreneur is responsible for inventing a simple, yet brilliant way to help curb coronavirus infections. 15-year-old Max Melia designed and developed a wearable wristband which alerts users whenever they are about to touch their face.

He first came up with the brilliant idea two years ago as a means of reducing the spread of the cold and flu. After both of Max’s parents contracted COVID-19 four months ago, however, he threw all his efforts into developing a working prototype.

“Watching this pandemic unfold on the news, it was clear the devastating effect it was having on people’s lives’ across the world,” says Max. “However, it wasn’t until I saw the severity of the virus first-hand, when my parents both contracted COVID-19, did I truly appreciate just what we were dealing with.”

It uses position-sending technology algorithms to distinguish between predicted face touching and other hand motions. A vibration on the device then alerts the user to hand gestures that are dangerously near the face. “Any profits made from early sales via the crowdfunding site will be reinvested into providing free devices to organizations that help people such as NHS staff and nursing homes.

When Black Man Was Afraid to Walk in His Upscale Community, 75 Neighbors Walked With Him

The 29-year-old has lived in the 12 South neighborhood of Nashville his whole life after his family moved there 54 years ago. But over the course of his life, Shawn Dromgoole has seen the neighborhood change dramatically. Rising home values priced out many of the black families who lived there. As they moved out to find more affordable housing, new families moved in, most of them white and more financially well-off—leaving Shawn feeling out of place in his hometown.

“Growing up in my neighborhood, I could always feel the eyes, the looks, and the cars slowing down as they passed by me,” Shawn told the Washington Post.

Along with a barrage of news reports of looting, and protests raging over George Floyd’s death, came Facebook posts warning neighbors to watch out for “suspicious black men,” which added a new layer of fear to Shawn’s discomfort. So, three weeks ago, he took to Facebook and the online community bulletin board, NextDoor, to express his fear of walking alone in his own neighborhood.

So he posted a time and place letting everyone know, in case they wanted to join him on his next walk. When he arrived, 75 people were waiting there to join him. “I was so overwhelmed, I still can’t find the words. I never wrote that post thinking people would want to walk with me,” Shawn said. He was especially awed at how the whole thing seemed to transcend racial barriers. “Everyone was in masks, so you just saw a sea of people, and you couldn’t even tell what color skin they had.”

He also envisions honoring the memories of Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, and Tamir Rice with walks in their hometowns: Brunswick, Georgia; Miami Gardens, Florida; and Cleveland, Ohio. Eventually, his dream is to walk across the whole country giving hope to all those who are scared to walk alone. Here is the news video: https://www.air.tv/watch?v=VSL7iPSbR3CJn4EtF04xLw

Senior Home in Brazil Creates ‘Hug Tunnel’ So Visitors Can Embrace Their Loved Ones

The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially hard on elderly people, who have been advised to strictly adhere to stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines. For those living in care facilities, this has meant that friends and loved ones cannot even visit them in person. But, a care home in Brazil has come up with a creative solution, allowing seniors to connect with their loved ones while still keeping them safe from infection.

For 28 seniors living in isolation since March 17 at the Três Figueiras home in Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, Mother’s Day came and went without any visitors—and the loving staff noticed that spirits were at an all-time low.“We noticed that our senior residents were feeling sad,” Rubia Santos, the care home’s administrator told CNN. “We thought they would be much happier if we found a way for them to hug their relatives.”

So they put their heads together and created the ‘hug tunnel.’ It gives people the opportunity to feel the warmth of human contact without risking coming into contact with the coronavirus. To keep it extra safe for the residents, the staff at Três Figueiras makes sure the plastic is disinfected in between visits, which are all scheduled in advance. And visitors also have their temperatures checked and are asked to use hand sanitizer beforehand. The idea came from a viral video showing a woman in the US hugging her mother using a plastic curtain with arm enclosures in the backyard.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0oV7y6eM9A  

9-Year-Old and Friends Have Raised $100,000 for African American Businesses Selling Homemade Bracelets

Some unlikely heroes in Minneapolis have raised $100,000 to support black-owned businesses and neighborhoods—and they’re only 9-years-old. It all started one day when Kamryn Johnson and five of her friends were bored. So, in order to have a little bit of fun, they had the bright idea to sell some bracelets. Rather than just keep the money for themselves, Kamryn’s mom suggested it would be nice to do something positive for others—and the kids agreed. “Kamryn & Friends: Bracelets for Unity and Justice” was born.

The kiddos hoped to make a small impact with their enterprise, but since May 30, these altruistic children have managed to raise almost $100,000. Just in time for Father’s Day in the U.S., Kamryn’s dad is super proud. “She made over $800 the first day,” her dad, former NFL player Ron Johnson, told WCCO News. “She has blisters on her fingers now; she’s been working hard.”

The money raised by Kamryn and her friends will deliver welcome aid to those trying to get back on their feet. Even though the bracelets cost $5, people have paid $20, $50, even $100 to support the cause. In addition to selling bracelets—each woven with different colors—they have collected online donations on a GoFundMe campaign that has tallied $46,000. It just goes to show that, even in times of adversity, we can all make an impact and do our part to create a better world—and children can be the exceptional example.

‘Extinct’ Harlequin Toad Rediscovered; Such Survivors Are Bringing Hope That Amphibian Apocalypse is Abating

A researcher from New Brunswick has rediscovered a species of harlequin toad presumed extinct, and the details of the discovery offer hope not just for the species, but for the entire atelopus genus, which was nearly wiped out by the amphibian epidemic.

Caused by bacteria, the fungal disease chytridiomycosis has wreaked havoc on amphibians worldwide, with harlequin toads (atelopus) proving particularly susceptible.

However,  Canadian herpetologist Melissa Costales’s sighting of the Mindo harlequin toad (atelopus mindorensis) in Ecuador could mean the epidemic of chytrid may be subsiding; evidence supporting an already established and hopeful hypothesis. Watch video here:https://vimeo.com/409208914

 Source: Good News Network 

In today’s video, you will hear two of our Youth of Unity (Y.O.U.) leaders share their thoughts and feelings about the recent events that have taken place in America. We have been actively involved in a powerful, open conversation with our youth of all ages during our weekly virtual meetings. It is fascinating to hear what they think and feel. I believe that the future is in good hands. After sharing our feelings of despair, shock, and anger, we have been looking for ways to contribute, now. 

There is so much to learn and I know many of us have been faced with this question: Where do I begin? When we are faced with these violent acts, it can make us feel like there is nothing we can do to fight the enormity of it as one person. This is natural, but it should not stop us from taking action to do our part. Some of the world’s most important achievements were done by regular people who decided that inaction was simply unacceptable. We all collectively contribute to what is happening in our world. It’s our choice to do our small part to improve society or to just sit and watch as things get worse, hoping that the problem does not come to our own door someday.  

Our Youth of Unity leader, Lauren Garcia, gives us great advice: Educate yourself, do research, join groups, join peaceful protests, watch documentaries, make friends with people from other cultures and races. 

In doing my own research, I have learned so many things that I can do to help my own children and our youth ministry children. Today, I would like to share some of them with all of you:

Did you know that even babies notice differences like skin color, eye shape, and hair texture? Here’s how to handle conversations about race, racism, diversity, and inclusion, even with very young children:

  • Don’t shush or shut them down if they mention race.
  • Don’t wait for kids to bring it up.
  • Be proactive, helping them build positive awareness of diversity.
  • When a child experiences prejudice, grown-ups need to both address the feelings and fight the prejudices.
  • You don’t have to avoid topics like slavery or the Holocaust. Instead, give the facts and focus on resistance and allies.

The following is the best, most inclusive list of steps and actions we can take as parents and educators that I have found so far. I have personally joined this movement and encourage you to find one to join. 

What inspires me the most about working with our youth is being a witness to their connection to God. I wholeheartedly believe that one person who is connected to God, to Spirit, is more powerful than millions who are not. As Gabe said: “The path to improvement is never a straight line”.  These two “mantras” have helped us a lot during these challenging times. I hope they help you as well. 

In Unity we stand.

Namaste,

Janice

It’s Youth Monday!

For this week’s video and blog post, we invite you to join us in taking a moment to honor the lives of all the people who have made their transition in this intense and difficult time. Every life matters. Our youth of all ages, in all parts of the world, are watching closely and learning from our example. In the midst of all this pain and sorrow, may we be sustained by faith and inspired to do our part. 

Photo Credit:
Taylor Debnam, senior at Enloe High School, photographed Sunday, April 5, 2020. Ethan Hyman EHYMAN@NEWSOBSERVER.COM

Our youth leaders and I have been actively supporting and listening to our youth as they express their feelings during our weekly virtual meetings. Their wisdom inspires us and sustains our vision for equality and justice in our world. 

Today, we are honored to feature our dear 2020 Senior and Youth of Unity (Y.O.U.) member, Taylor Debnam. She shares how she has been able to navigate through the cancellation of prom and graduation by focusing on the present moment and letting go of what she cannot control.  She was also featured in this News and Observer article: https://www.newsobserver.com/living/article242029611.html

If you know a 2020 graduate, please find a way to honor him/her/them! Our support, acknowledgment, and recognition mean more than we will ever imagine during this difficult time. 2020 graduates, you have my full admiration. Congratulations and blessings to all of you! We will all get through this together. 

Namaste,

Janice

Happy Youth Monday!

Today we will continue our yoga practice by adding two powerful relaxation techniques and one new yoga pose to our routine. I encourage you to make this a family practice. If your children see you practicing and having fun, they will want to join you. It works for me every time!

First, make sure you practice on a soft surface. A yoga mat is ideal. Wear comfortable clothing. Consult your healthcare provider if you are not sure if you should engage in this type of physical activity. 

Tension/Relaxation Technique:

This is a very effective way to release physical tension. We often do not realize how much tension we are holding in our bodies. This, in turn, maintains stress in the nervous system and depletes the body’s energy levels.  When we consciously tense and then relax each body part, we are able to release it. Here are the steps: 

1- Begin in Savasana or Corpse Pose. Flex your feet and leg muscles. Lift them 3 inches off the mat. Then, release and drop your legs on the floor. 

2- Lift your hips, tense, then release. 

3- Tense your abs as you push your lower back closer to the mat. Release. 

4- Lift your chest up high and release. 

5- Inhale as you bring your shoulders up to your ears. Release.

6- Gently push your shoulders down toward your feet and release. 

7- Move your head from side to side, releasing tension from neck muscles.

8- Contract your facial muscles toward your nose. Try to kiss the tip of your nose! Release.

9- Lion’s Breath- Open your mouth, stick your tongue out, open your eyes wide, and look upward to give your facial muscles a good stretch. Exhale through your mouth and relax.  

Take a moment to feel the difference in your body after this exercise! You may do this several times a day.  

The Fish Pose– (Matsyasana)

The Fish acts as a gentle counter-pose to the Shoulderstand. You will feel a renewed sense of balance and deep relaxation throughout your body as you come out of this pose. It increases the vital capacity of the lungs, reduces bronchial congestion, brings flexibility to the upper spine, revitalizes the thyroid gland, and stimulates the pineal gland. This promotes wellness and helps with feelings of depression and anxiety.  

From Corpse Pose or Savasana, bring your legs together. Hide your straight arms under your torso (palms down). As you inhale, lift your chest as high as possible, bending your arms, arching your back, and carefully bending your neck backward. Place the top of your head gently on the floor. Keep your mouth closed as you take full, deep abdominal breaths. 

To release the asana, push firmly on your elbows, lift your head slightly and lower your back to the floor. Release the arms and go back to Corpse Pose. 

Final Relaxation:

This is the most rewarding moment of our yoga practice. It increases the benefits of each asana and brings your body and mind to a state of balance through three levels of relaxation: physical, mental, and spiritual. We will consciously relax each part of our body by sending “autosuggestion” messages starting with your feet. Gradually move up until you reach your head. Example: Focus on your feet. Mentally repeat “I relax my feet. My feet are relaxed. I relax my legs. My legs are relaxed”, and so on. With practice, you will feel your body parts relax and recharge as you consciously rest. The aim is to remain awake throughout the practice. Make sure to take your time to gently stretch before you sit down. 

I trust you will feel rejuvenated and energized. Have a great week!

Namaste, 

Janice