Texas Girl Records Video Introducing Younger Brother With Autism to the School

Girl Introduces Autistic Brother
(Facebook/taniavanbree)

A Fifth-grader named Elli was going to be attending the same school as her little brother Willem for the first time, so she made a video about him and his autism so other kids would know how to treat him.

She made the video for her fifth-grade class, and she offered her classmates ideas about how to interact with a person with autism. She also told her friends to say hello to her brother, and be patient with him, and speak up if they see him being bullied. The teacher played the video during the school announcements to the entire school.

Elli described his tablet, saying:

He has words in his head like everyone else. His brain just doesn’t cooperate the way he wants. It gets frustrating for him, but he still makes tons of sounds to practice.

Later she says: “Sometimes new kids, or loud places, scare him because his ears and eyes are extra sensitive.”

And she closes her autism awareness video, introducing the school to her brother, with the most heartwarming summation.

“Overall, he’s a kid like you and me. And, I hope you love him as much as I do.”

The video got a standing ovation, as well it should. Any parent who has a child that endures extra challenges knows how exhausting it can be for the entire family. You know how special your child is, and you hope the rest of the world will take the extra minute to see it too. And when your other kid has that kind of love for their sibling, it has to warm your heart to know you’re doing something right.

Steve Harvey Can’t Dislike Daughter’s Boyfriend Because He’s Michael B. Jordan

Steve Harvey Michael B Jordan
(Instagram/iamsteveharvey//MichaelBJordan)

It’s a tale as old as time: dad beefing with their daughter’s boyfriend. It’s a little trite, but old-school dads can still fall into those patterns. Plus, messing with your kids is one of life’s great joys. And however flawed they may be, they come from a good place of wanting your kid to be happy. Steve Harvey is one of those dads, and he’s tried to hate on his daughter’s new boyfriend. But he can’t because that boyfriend is MICHAEL B. JORDAN.

The comedian/game show host’s youngest daughter Lori is dating the terrific actor from “Creed”, “Black Panther” and a million other great things. The two have been dating for several months, and Harvey has finally met his match as an overprotective dad.

“You know what, I have tried not to like him,” he said on Ellen. He followed that by praising him soundly. The “Family Feud” star is exposed to just about every variation of complaint and annoyance people have conjured for years in survey answers, and he’s still coming up blank when he tries to think of something bad about Jordan.

And he’s not had this problem before. On Kimmel, he said he had plenty of success ousting past boyfriends, saying “I done get rid of all of them. All of them…Some of them just snuck in the back door on me and lasted a lot longer than I wanted it to,” he added. We’ll just leave it there and move on without comment.

“But this guy is such a good guy, man,” Harvey said of Jordan. “He is one of the nicest guys. I met his father. I’ve sat up with him, talking for hours.

“I just can’t find nothing wrong with him. I’m hoping to.”

Good luck, Steve! But also, Michael B. Jordan seems like a good dude and also your daughter is literally 24 years old so it’s probably time to stop that behavior. Hopefully, he’s joking a little bit, seeing as a daughter isn’t property.

Survey says: she’s a grown-up and doesn’t need you to tank her relationships forever!

College Golfer First Athlete With Down Syndrome To Play for National Title

Amy Bockerstette Makes History
(Amy Bockerstette social)

Amy Bockerstette, a golfer for Paradise Valley Community College, is set to make history as the first collegiate athlete with Down syndrome to compete for a national title. People with Down syndrome are often role models for a better world and regularly accomplish great things, but this particular victory is historic.

Bockerstette and the PVCC women’s golf team will be competing in the NJCAA national championships in mid-May. She shared the AP story about her monumental breakthrough, adding the hashtag “#InclusionRevolution.”

Bockerstette is already a champion, no matter how she finishes at the actual tournament. She even has already made history by becoming the first person with Down syndrome to earn a collegiate athletic scholarship. She has already captured the hearts of some sports fans after going viral for her play at TPC Scottsdale in 2019 when paired with PGA player Gary Woodland on the 16th hole.

She put her shot into the bunker but had an absolute gem of a chip out of the sand and was facing an eight-foot putt for par. In a moment right out of an inspiring sports movie, she said, “I got this,” before backing it up and sinking the putt, drawing huge roars from the crowd.

After that event, Amy and her family created the “I Got This” Foundation to provide golf instruction and playing opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

A true star in every way, and Amy’s day at the nationals will be a powerful sports moment.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Amy Bockerstette (@amybockerstette)

Dad Bikes 321 Miles in Honor of Daughter With Down Syndrome

Dad Bikes for Daughter
(Instagram/Matt_keeps_pedaling)

How far would you go to make sure your daughter, and people like her, are seen and included? One dad answered that by biking 321 miles in honor of his six-year-old daughter. Matt Lyman of Seattle celebrated World Down Syndrome Day on March 21 by tackling a three-day, 321-mile epic bike ride to raise awareness and money for the Down syndrome community.

Lyman said the ride to celebrate 3/21 was something he felt he could do to drive awareness and inclusion. He said his daughter is just like other kids.

“She’s no different than any of us are from anyone else,” Lyman said. “She learns differently and processes language differently, but she’s like any other kid.”

“We want to include people, we want everyone to have the same opportunities in school, in jobs, everywhere,” Lyman said.

He said doing the 321-mile bike ride was the way he could help make a difference. He said he loved riding his bike growing up and that he’s been raising his daughters to also get into things that are fun and healthy to do, like riding scooters and bikes.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Matt Lyman (@matt_keeps_pedaling)

Lyman also praised the Down syndrome community for being a great resource in his community, and that raising money for them and raising awareness about the need for inclusion was important.

“I believe that raising the awareness of people like Phoebe, and also promoting healthy activities like cycling for all, is something small that I can do,” he wrote on Instagram.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Matt Lyman (@matt_keeps_pedaling)

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Matt Lyman (@matt_keeps_pedaling)

“So. That’s why I ride. For health. For mental well being. To raise awareness for the DSC and the need for better #inclusive practices for all people.”

Badass Grandma Who Fended off Attacker Donates the $1M Raised for Her

Badass Grandma Gives Away Million
(GoFundMe)

Last week, 76-year-old Xiao Zhen Xie, made news when she was suckered punched on the street in San Francisco. Turns out her 30-year-old attacker got more than he bargained for and ended up in the hospital. However, she was still physically injured from the attack and suffered PTSD shortly after the incident.

Donations poured in for the woman to help show support and help with her recovery. Like, a lot of donations. Her grandson set the GoFundMe goal for $50,000, and they have raised almost a million bucks. And now the family knows what they want to do with it….give it away. Yep, they’ve decided that money can have an even greater impact by donating it to organizations that fight racism. In a way, they are using the fallout from this racist attack to help prevent more of them in the future, which is a pretty noble goal!

“She insists on making this decision, saying the issue is bigger than her,” her grandson wrote on the GoFundMe update. “She is now starting to feel optimistic again and is in better spirits. She said we must not summit to racism….she stated multiple times to donate all the funds generated back to the Asian American community to combat racism.”

He also said she is showing some signs of improvement physically, as her slowly healing eye is no longer swollen to the point she can’t open it. With anti-Asian violence on the rise around the nation, her decision is both generous and much needed. But donating to one badass grandma isn’t the only way you can be a force for change in this story.

  • There are a number of different ways you can get involved and show support to the Asian-American community.
    • Donate to Stop AAIP Hate – an organization that tracks hate crimes against members of the Asian community, and uses that info to direct resources to anti-racism policy.
    • Attend Bystander Intervention Training – The Hollaback Movement offers a free, online, 1-hour training that empowers people to be aware and resilient in situations that could escalate towards a hate crime, and safely intervene before violence occurs.
    • Diversify Your Feed – It may seem like a small gesture, but seeking out and adding different perspectives to the content you consume not only supports Asian creators, it can greatly increase your own mindfulness. Consider following Youngna Park, the Executive Product Director of Parenting for The New York Times, or subscribe to Asian America: The Ken Fong Podcast.

$650K Raised For Badass Grandma Who Fended Off Her Attacker

600K Raised for Grandma
(GoFundMe/John Chen)

Asian-Americans have been targeted in an increasing number of hate crimes over the past year, which culminated in a horrific shooting spree this week in Atlanta. Violence against Asians has increased 150% in the last year, according to the Center For The Study of Racism and Extremism. On Wednesday a man attacked an elderly Asian-American woman in San Francisco’s Market Street, but got more than he bargained for, ending up in the hospital.

39-year-old Steven Jenkins was reportedly caught on film punching 76-year-old Xiao Zhen Xie, who then gave Jenkins a taste of his own medicine. She picked up a nearby stick and fended off Jenkins relentlessly until bystanders could intervene. He was treated for injuries at the scene, placed on a stretcher, and taken to a hospital (accompanied by a score of police officers who had placed him under arrest as well).

Xie can be seen in the video going after the man even after he’s on the stretcher, and she had to be held back by the police.

“You bum, why did you bully me? He hit me, he hit me!” she can be heard yelling. While clearly a badass, Xie did suffer two black eyes from the attack, and her grandson said she’s been suffering from PTSD and is afraid to go outside after being attacked.

He started a GoFundMe to help her with her medical expenses. They set the fundraising target at $50,000 and blew past it in a flash This show of support comes from many people sharing the #StopAsianHate hashtag and expressing support from their own communities.

During this rash of anti-Asian-American sentiment from a narrow group of clearly racist people, showing solidarity with the Asian-American community is important. More than ever, the AAIP community needs support from those willing to put their foot down and stand with them.

There are a number of different ways you can get involved and show support to the Asian-American community.

  • Donate to Stop AAIP Hate – an organization that tracks hate crimes against members of the Asian community, and uses that info to direct resources to anti-racism policy.
  • Attend Bystander Intervention Training – The Hollaback Movement offers a free, online, 1-hour training that empowers people to be aware and resilient in situations that could escalate towards a hate crime, and safely intervene before violence occurs.
  • Diversify Your Feed – It may seem like a small gesture, but seeking out and adding different perspectives to the content you consume not only supports Asian creators, it can greatly increase your own mindfulness. Consider following Youngna Park, the Executive Product Director of Parenting for The New York Times, or subscribe to Asian America: The Ken Fong Podcast.

Michael J. Fox’s Son Taught Him How To Perfectly Deal With Trolls on Twitter

Michael J. Fox's son teaches him to handle trolls
(YouTube/ The Graham Norton Show)

Anyone who’s spent more than 5 minutes on the internet knows that it isn’t always the nicest place. Sure, the internet allows you to connect with fans of your favorite obscure band or learn about literally anything at 3 AM – but the ability to be anonymous on social media emboldens people, sometimes leading them to say things they typically wouldn’t. In other words, social media is often home base for trolls with nothing better to do than mess with people for their own sick enjoyment.

If you’re new-ish to the internet you may be thinking, “sure, people troll online – but they only troll people who deserve it.” False. There is no target too pure for a troll on the prowl. During a recent appearance on The Graham Norton Show, even beloved actor and Parkinson’s advocate Michael J. Fox admitted to being on the receiving end of some thorough trolling.

Though Michael J. Fox’s son and daughter frequently help him manage his various social media accounts, Fox himself takes time to read comments and respond to his followers. Like any public figure with a social media presence, Fox encounters his share of trolls. Generally, though, he tries to ignore them.

Feeding the trolls only makes them stronger, so the best strategy is to ignore them altogether. However, there is one topic that Fox doesn’t let slide. We shouldn’t be surprised at this point, given the cesspool that is the internet – but recently, someone made a shitty comment about Parkinson’s on Twitter.

In the interview, Fox explains that he “wanted to answer this guy in some way.”

But how do you respond to a troll without giving them more fuel? Fortunately for Fox, his son Sam is well-versed in troll control. When dealing with a jerk on the internet, less is more. Fox’s son suggested that Fox simply respond “SMH,” though at the time he didn’t know what it meant.

SMH, or shaking my head, is the universal sign of disappointment. It’s an acknowledgment, but one that says, “buddy, that was so painfully stupid that I don’t even have the words to point out just how stupid it was.” It’s an invitation to evaluate your life choices, which incredibly, is exactly what this troll did.

Rather than double down, the troll dropped the act and stepped up. According to Fox, the reformed troll responded, “this is the funniest thing I’ve ever read in my life, you’re the king of the internet, I apologize for anything I said to you, blah, blah, blah.”

Let this be a lesson to anyone who encounters a troll in the wild. Don’t stoop to their level, but if you must respond, hit ‘em with the old “SMH.”

Boy’s Letter to Santa Goes Viral Because the Only Thing He Asks for Is Love

LGBTQ Santa Letter
(USPS)

Writing letters to Santa is one of the fun holiday traditions to do with your kids when they’re young. The letters can be fun time capsules for when they’re older, and it’s part of the magic of the season when they’re younger. They can be a great window into a child’s brain because kids DO NOT HOLD BACK with Santa Clause. Sometimes it can be funny! Other times, it can break your freaking heart.

The USPS posted a collection of letters kids have sent Santa in an effort to promote the USPS Operation Santa project, where donors can help “Santa” deliver the gift in need for the less fortunate kids in their community. Most of them are asking for things for their parents (a futon, so they don’t have to sleep on the couch and have back pain, etc.), but one especially heartbreaking letter they shared from a young boy had him wanting no gift other than love.

The letter, shared by the USPS, was from a boy named Will. He wrote:

“Dear Santa, do you support the LGBTQ community and if you speak to god can you tell him that I love him, and if he loves me for being gay?”

That is the type of thing that hits you right in the feels. Direct hit. I don’t know how any parent can read that letter, from a kid who is just looking for love and acceptance in his life, and not feel something.

Fortunately, he did get a response to his letter (presumably?). The letter was featured in the trailer for a new documentary on the USPS Operation Santa, which premieres this month.

There are plenty of ways to give back to your community during the holidays, and helping a kid believe in the magic of Santa is not a bad way to go.

Ryan Reynolds Cheers up Boy Without Friends on His Birthday

Reynolds Birthday Message
(Facebook/damiensbirthdayproject)

Moving can be hard on kids. You’re in a new school, your old friends are gone, and it can take some time to get adjusted. Moving right before a birthday sucks even more, and just serves to amplify that lonely feeling. An 8-year-old boy in British Columbia (that’s in Canada, for you less than Cosmopolitan types) was struggling after a recent move and was worried about turning 9 without any friends. So his parents put the call out on social media to have strangers send him cards, so his birthday would still be special.

Turns out he got 1,000 of them. And even better, movie star Ryan Reynolds sent the boy a video message relating to his struggle and wishing him a happy birthday. Let’s pause 10 seconds for our routine Ryan Reynolds appreciation. The Deadpool star, and girl-dad seemingly has a heart of freaking gold. He (and his wife Blake Lively) have donated millions this year to charities supporting COVID-19 response and charities focused on children. Reynolds helped reunite a child with his lost toy, bought a soccer team with Always Sunny star Rob McElhenney, and also found the time to write 400 thank you notes to the crew working on his new movie during the pandemic. He even went above and beyond to connect with a Deadpool cosplayer. And this isn’t even covering half of the great stuff he’s done this year.

So we are not surprised that Reynolds would make little Damien’s birthday one he will never forget.

Reynolds, who is also Canadian, told Damien he relates to his story because he went to a new school when he was a kid (a few of them) and remembers how alienating it felt. “I remember how alone I felt and unseen I felt,” he said.

“I guess the point is that you’re not alone.”

Reynolds wished him a happy birthday and said he hopes he gets to meet him in person one of these days.

His family told local media they were blown away by the message and were thrilled to see Damien’s expression change when he realized what was going on. They said the entire project of making their kid’s birthday extra special left them feeling profoundly grateful.

Now Damien can proudly go to school knowing Deadpool himself took the time to wish him a happy birthday.

After His Son Is Bullied for Dancing, Dad Starts a Nonprofit To Support Him

Dad starts nonprofit after son is bullied for dancing
(Youtube/DanceOn Chicago)

There’s a reason that so many coming-of-age movies feature bullies as the antagonists. For most kids, the closest they’ll get to a real-life supervillain is a mean kid with nothing better to do. There are a lot of ways to deal with bullies. There’s the revenge route, which is generally the one we see in movies. Though exciting in theory, bullying a bully just turns you into a different kind of bully (and we do not need any more of those). You can turn to friends for support, or you can turn your experience into something amazing.

Greg Long’s son Jimmy loved to dance. Not only did Jimmy love dancing, but he was talented. His talent and passion for dancing landed him in a school performance, showcasing his skills to his classmates. However, what should have been a celebration of hard-work turned into something sinister. Some of the students in the audience decided to hurl insults and slurs at the young dancer, emboldened by the fact that their seats were shrouded in darkness.

On the ride home, Long listened to his son and his friends discuss the unexpectedly taxing day. He recalled to TODAY, “I got to listen to how 8- or 9- or 12-year-olds process that kind of bigotry. Instead of getting angry, I decided to make a T-shirt for them. And I came up with, ‘Hey, we’re just going to dance on. We’re just going to move past this.’”

“Dance On” started as a T-shirt design, a bold statement about doing what you love even in the face of bullies. But this supportive dad wasn’t done. The idea behind the T-shirt stayed with Long, as he was certain other kids faced the same thing his son and his friends had.

Greg Long is the type of dad we all admire – the type of dad who isn’t content strictly being there for his own kids. Long wanted to support other kids like his son, showing all boys who loved dancing that it was more than ok. That they should be proud of doing what they love rather than afraid of being judged. Long started a nonprofit called Dance On, an organization that promotes acceptance.

The Dance On website explains, “Here at Dance On, we are driven by a single goal; to do our part in making the world a better place for all. We work to keep boys dancing, even in the face of adversity. Our hope is to raise awareness around acceptance, anti-bullying, and allowing all people to follow their passions… to #danceon!”

The organization has sold thousands of T-Shirts, given away scholarships to deserving dancers, and Jimmy has even spoken publicly on his anti-bullying stance (with his supportive dad right behind him, of course).

“I lost it,” Greg said of a 2018 speech given by Jimmy. “I admittedly had tears coming down my face, because the strength that it takes for somebody like that to stand in front of 20,000 people and say, ‘I’ve been bullied and I’m not going to let it stop me from what I like to do’ — it was a proud moment.”

“It’s been nice to be a part of this as opposed to just being a dad who claps very loudly in the back of the auditorium,” he said.

For as long as Jimmy is dancing, Greg will be clapping loudly. In the front row, and beyond.

“Be Kind Always,” NBA Player Befriends Bullied Girl With Cancer

Myles Turner and A’Myah Moon
(Twitter/Pacers)

One of the more heartbreaking experiences for a parent is when a kid suffers from bullying. It’s a helpless feeling, and it’s a problem across society. And while movements have been ongoing to combat bullying and increase awareness of it, there’s still a long way to go. This is why it’s powerful when celebrities and sports figures go out of their way to reach out to affected individuals.

A’Myah Moon is an 11-year-old girl with a rare form of cancer. As if that isn’t hard enough, she’s had to endure bullying at her school, culminating in another student pulling off her wig in school last month. Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner is from the same hometown, and the Texas native went out of his way to show support to Moon when the Pacers were in Dallas to face the Mavericks.

Turner heard about her story and invited Moon and her family to the game and spent some time with her prior to the game. He talked to her about how he used to get bullied as a kid.

“You can always be kind to people. No matter what they are doing to you, don’t ever let that affect how you are as a person,” he told her.

Turner, a former first-round draft pick, was a star at the University of Texas. He’s had a solid career in the NBA and is a key contributor for the fifth-place Pacers. But it also shows that players can have a much bigger influence off the court.

“The reason I do this isn’t for the cameras and that kind of stuff,” Turner told the Dallas Morning News. “Kids see us, and we’re larger than life. They see us out on the floor, kind of like superheroes in a sense, doing what we do. When they see us [up close] in person, it’s like, you realize I’m just a human being like you are, too, so I think getting that one-on-one time to talk to her like that is important.”

Turner wore shoes with Moon’s name on them and “Be Kind Always” during the game.

Bullied Boy Inspires Comedian to Raise $450k for Anti-Bullying Causes

Comedian Raises Money for Quaden
(Twitter/henryfraser0/funnybrad)

Earlier this week, a tragic video hit social media. A mother in Australia posted a video of her 9-year-old son in tears after being bullied at school. The boy, Quaden, was born with a common form of dwarfism. He has been ridiculed and mocked by other kids most of his life, and after the most recent incident, his mother posted the video and begs viewers to fully understand what bullying does to a child.

In the video, you can see the tear-stained boy, in between fits of sobs, say he wants to die. “This is the effect of bullying on a child who just wants to go to school and get an education,” his mom said. “But every single freaking day, something happens. Another episode, another bullying, another taunt, another name-calling.”

But then comedian Brad Williams, who also was born with a common form of dwarfism, stepped in. He wanted to take a stance against bullying. Williams started a GoFundMe to raise a small amount of money to send the boy and his family to Disney World.

But he had a larger vision in mind.

“This isn’t just for Quaden, this is for anyone who has been bullied in their lives and told they weren’t good enough,” Williams wrote on GoFundMe. “Let’s show Quaden and others, that there is good in the world and they are worthy of it.”

And, well, the internet answered the call. In less than a day, Williams blew past his goal, raising nearly half a million dollars (and counting).

And before you think Quaden and fam are about to go on the most blinged-out Disney World trip of all time, Williams has assured donors and his fans that the extra funds will be donated to anti-bullying causes.

So Quaden will still get the trip of a lifetime, and the backing of a celebrity who can relate to what he’s dealt with. And he also gets to see love and support pouring in from every part of the globe. Even other celebrities have come to his defense, with Wolverine himself (Hugh Jackman) posting a video.

The anti-bullying donations continue to grow, and this is how everyone feels for a change after the internet did something nice.

Tennessee Offers Full Scholarship to Boy Bullied for Homemade T-Shirt

Tennessee Offers Full Scholarship
(Twitter/tennalum)

Earlier this week, a story about a university and its fanbase rallying around a bullied student captivated the nation. A boy in Florida wore a homemade University of Tennessee shirt at his school for “college colors day.” He was devastated after getting bullied for his design, which is when his teacher posted about it on Facebook. Vols Nation came through, and the University engineered an outpouring of support. Most importantly, it made the boy’s design an official t-shirt in their shop.

The fansite crashed from so many orders, as Vols fans gobbled up the shirt whose proceeds are being donated to an anti-bullying charity (more than 50, 000 have been ordered). And now the story has taken another turn, as the University of Tennessee has offered the bullied boy a full scholarship.

In a statement, the University said it’s offering the boy “honorary admission” to the class of 2032 in addition to the four-year scholarship. The boy’s mother told University officials the family “has been deeply touched by the overwhelming outpouring from people around the world.”

The anti-bullying lesson and its message have even spread to other schools, as one elementary school in Pennsylvania adopted the idea of wearing orange in honor of anti-bullying for their spirit day. The principal was overwhelmed when the busses dropped off hundreds of his students, many clad in their own homemade orange shirts.

And the boy’s teacher updated her Facebook post, thanking everyone around the world for their support. She said it’s been an awesome week about learning to be kind.

“We’ve had lots of discussions about being kind, and I’m really excited to see my students step up their acts of kindness,” she said.

It was a cool gesture for Tennessee to adopt the shirt in the university store, but I feel like the kid has earned the scholarship at this point, at least for all the great press that this story has generated for the school. They might as well also throw in an honorary degree in graphic design, as he’s probably the best-selling elementary school designer in history.

And if you want to join the movement, you can grab the shirt from the official team shop.