New Virtual Camp Aims To Make Gamers Healthier

Virtual Camp for Gamers
(Hybrid ATX)

Gaming. One of the most historically popular methods of leisure. Its benefits are countless: learn problem-solving and social skills, improve focus, memory, and hand-eye coordination. Don’t forget the improvement of relationships. Video games are great! But they do sometimes have negative side effects, be they controller-smashing fits of rage, or addiction, which can lead to lapses in a proper diet, exercise, and exposure to sunlight.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Now there’s a virtual day camp called Hybrid ATX, where kids can learn healthy habits to amass alongside their gaming ones. Video games foster discipline, and that discipline can easily be used to pick up valuable life skills, according to camp founder Sam Gonzalez.

“We are going to lead by example,” said the 28-year-old Navy veteran in a recent interview. “To show that just because you play video games doesn’t mean you’re rotting your brain and you’re gonna die fat and lonely,”

(Spectrum News)

Along with a team of counselors, kids aged 11-15 can play video games while learning about proper nutrition, the importance of emotional intelligence, and ways to nurture their physical well-being under quarantine. Here you can see Sam leading a group in some jumping jacks, a perfect way to kill time during those pesky load screens.

(Spectrum News)

Hybrid ATX, whose slogan is “Building Better Gamers,” also offers kids lessons on the history and evolution of video games, and teaches them about the industry’s wide array of career opportunities. It’s an inclusive, uplifting environment, dedicated to showing kids that gaming can be a tool for positive change and growth and not just a means for saying abhorrent things to strangers on Xbox Live.

“There’s a lot of online toxicity, raging and really unhealthy behavior that happens,” Sam continued. “So we are looking at how to teach them 1) not to contribute to that, and 2) remove them from that when they see it.”

(Spectrum News)

Now if can just offer a course on showing adult Animal Crossing enthusiasts how to channel their focus into real, actual housework, we’ll be golden.

You can check out the Hybrid ATX website right here, where you can find info about a free orientation week for students!

“Certified Young Person” Paul Rudd Has a Message for Maskless Millenials

Paul Rudd Mask PSA
(YouTube/Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Six-plus months into this pandemic, we’re all at the end of our ropes. The ongoing debate about wearing a mask (what debate: WEAR A MASK!) and the constant flow of information about testing and infections and the death toll is wearing on all of us. The last thing most of us want at this point is another public service announcement from a coddled celebrity telling us how to live our lives.

Unless that celebrity is Paul Rudd. Everybody loves Paul Rudd!

Yesterday, one of those aforementioned PSAs was released, featuring Ant-Man himself beseeching his fellow Millennials, and the rest of us, to wear a mask. But instead of being an earnest, self-serious message to a population that couldn’t have less interest in hearing someone preach at them, Rudd did what he does best and just goofed around for two minutes.

Throughout the video, which Rudd filmed at the behest of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (“Cuomes,” as he calls him), Rudd dresses and speaks – sort of – like a “certified young person,” absurdly attempting to throw around slang and references that actual young people (Rudd is 50!) might use these days. And he does it really poorly. And hilariously.

I promise, whether you want to wear a mask or not, these very funny two minutes are worth your time:

NFL’s Dak Prescott Opens up About Mental Health, After Losing Mom and Brother

Dak Prescott Mental Health
(Getty/Kevork Djansezian/Stringer)

2020 has been trying for everyone. On top of the COVID-19, there have been countless other tragedies, from violence to wildfires, not to mention personal struggles that don’t make the news.

No one is escaping the stress of these past few months unscathed, and that includes professional athletes, who, underneath the helmets and beyond the superhuman accomplishments, are people just like the rest of us.

Just ask Dak Prescott.

The Cowboys quarterback has been contending with the same terrible events of 2020 as the rest of us, but he’s also dealing with the loss of his brother, who committed suicide in the spring, having struggled to watch their mom fight colon cancer.

Just before the kickoff of the NFL season, Prescott participated in an interview with Graham Bensinger, in which he shared his battle with depression in the aftermath of his brother’s death. Dak’s interview received some blowback, particularly from the insensitive and reliably controversial Skip Bayless, but the quarterback’s strength can not be discounted.

In a world in which men, and especially athletes, are expected to be stoic and strong, Dak’s willingness to speak out and be open and honest about his mental health will go a long way towards helping erase the stigma around such challenges and may have more of an impact than playing football.

Watch the interview:

An 11-Year-Old Is Sewing Masks and Blankets for Kids in Need

Lucy's Love Blankets Masks
(Instagram/lucysloveblankets)

An 11-year-old girl in Tennessee started making blankets for kids in need several years ago after learning to sew. She wanted to do a give away to one kid who needed it, but after getting 16 responses to the social media post, she couldn’t pick just one. So she made one for all the kids and hasn’t stopped since.

That’s the genesis of Lucy’s Love Blankets. Each one takes hours to make, and she has sent more than 500 to kids in need around the globe. She told Good Morning America she hopes the kids know someone cares about them, and that she likes helping ‘all these kids feel loved.’

When COVID-19 hit, Lucy pivoted and began making masks for health care workers and kids in need. Universal masking (according to all of the science) is a critical part of dramatically limiting the spread of the coronavirus, and Lucy wanted to help keep people safe.

 

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Making a difference…one little mask at a time. The requests keep coming in, so we’ll keep on sewing! If anyone feels like joining in on the fun, we’d be happy to share our pattern with you! We were also asked the other day if we were still needing fabric donations, and our simple answer is we will never turn down donations! Your efforts in helping us have been amazing and we couldn’t have done all this without your help! So thank you for being part of spreading some love!❤️ #lovelikelucy. . . . . . . #lucysloveblankets #maskmaker #masks #covid19 #covidkindness #kindness #goodnews #tieks #sewtogether #pruspirit2020 #kindness #kind #bekind #bekindalways #kindnessmatters #love #loveeachother #kindnessbeginswithme #igkids #kidsofig #kidsofinstagram #kindnessismagic #loveothers #sharekindness #spreadlove #gallatintn #millionmaskchallenge

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She’s continued making blankets too but has made more than 1,100 (!) masks so far for kids in need, even filling one order for the Ronald McDonald House.

Lucy is just a kid utilizing a skill to help fill a public need, which is why it’s inspiring.

“Kindness does matter, it always will,” she said.

Lucy has been recognized for her outstanding volunteer work, winning a service award from the President and the Prudential Spirit of Community Award.

 

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Mask maker, mask maker, make me a mask! 🎶 🎵 #lovelikelucy

A post shared by Lucy’s Love Blankets (@lucysloveblankets) on

Her advice to other kids looking to help their communities in some way? Just get started.

“Any act of kindness makes a difference,” she said to The Tennessean.

The Rock Announces His Family Tested Positive for COVID-19

The Rock's Family got COVID-19
(Instagram/therock)

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage around the world, one of the most famous people in the world has now tested positive. On Wednesday, The Rock announced that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. Dwayne Johnson wasn’t the only one who tested positive, as he announced his wife and their two young daughters, ages 4 and 2, also contracted the virus.

Like all of us, it’s been a tough year for The Rock. In January, his dad, a professional wrestling icon, passed away. In the wake of the tragedy, The Rock opened up about what his dad taught him about fatherhood and being a man, and his eulogy for his dad was truly touching.

And now, this. There are some that say the virus doesn’t do much to those who are young and healthy. Well, you can’t get much healthier than The Rock, and in his Instagram video he said it was one of “the most challenging and difficult things we have ever had to endure as a family, and for me, too, personally as well.”

The Rock said he wished he was the only one who contracted the virus and the fact that his wife and kids got it too was “a real kick in the gut.” He added that the virus was so different because his No. 1 priority, like for all of us he added, is to always protect family. “And protect my children, my loved ones.”

Johnson said the family contracted the virus from close family friends, who are devastated they unwittingly spread the virus. Johnson did say his family is through the worst of it, and no longer contagious. He said his young daughters had mild symptoms, but that he and his wife “had a tough go of it.”

The Rock urged everyone to take COVID seriously and continue to practice social distancing. He said his family wears their masks in public every day and that we all need to work together to keep as many people safe as we can. He urged people to avoid making it a political issue.

“The other thing is wear your mask… we wear our masks every day,” Johnson said. “This baffles me that some people out there, including some politicians, will take this idea of wearing mask and make it a political agenda of a political agenda, politicizing. It has nothing to do in politics. Wear your mask. It is a fact, and it is the right thing to do. And it’s the responsible thing to do,” he said.

“So wear your masks. I’m not a politician. I am a man though, who cares about my family deeply and will do everything I can to protect them. But I’m also a man who cares about all of you guys,” he said. “I don’t care what political party you’re affiliated with. I don’t care what part of the world you’re from. I don’t care what your skin color is, what your job is, what your bank account says. I don’t care. I do care about all of them. And I do not want you or your entire family to get COVID-19.”

“Use me as your example,” Johnson said, wrapping up his video. “Remember these takeaways that I shared with you and stay healthy, my friends, and I’ll see you down the road.”

Scary news for the biggest movie star in the country, and as a parent, nothing makes a dad more worried than the helpless feeling of watching your kids get sick, but it’s good to see that he and his family are through the worst of it.

Nurses Rescue Babies From NICU of Hurricane Damaged Hospital

Nurse NICU Rescue
(Instagram/christushealth)

The true heroes are those who go above and beyond to help the most vulnerable at the time of their greatest need. And that’s why a group of nurses from Texas is being hailed for working to save the babies at a NICU of a hospital battered by Hurricane Laura. The Category 4 storm hit Louisiana hard, and that’s a part of the country that knows all too well how dangerous a storm like that can be.

Natural disasters, like little else in society, show what people are made of. This is especially true of recovery efforts. We’ve seen it before, like the 6-year-old boy who used his Disney World vacation fund to instead help feed evacuees leaving their homes. There was also the story of the teen who pulled over during a tornado warning to help a man in a wheelchair get home. And when Laura came ashore, it was a group of nurses from CHRISTUS Southeast Texas St. Elizabeth who made the 3-hour round trip to rescue the four babies in the neonatal intensive care unit that needed to be evacuated.

The group of nurses from Texas readied for the trip after their sister hospital in Lake Charles, Louisiana was badly damaged in the hurricane. The rescue crew included nurses, a respiratory therapist, a neonatal nurse practitioner, and enough supplies to handle any emergencies they might encounter during the trek back.

The hospital CEO said it wasn’t even a question about sending a team to pick up the babies.

“Knowing that it’s been us in that same position many times before, there was no question about whether or not to help,” he said in a statement. “After the storm passed, we immediately began working with leaders at our system office and Louisiana hospitals to understand their needs and enacted plans to safely move a handful of special needs patients from their hospital to ours.”

A hospital spokesman said a NICU stay can be extremely stressful on the parents as well, and that moving to another site in a different state during an emergency can just make it even more complicated. She said the four babies arrived safely and are being cared for at St. Elizabeth.

“Our job is to love, support and care for these babies and their families,” she added.

Being at a hospital when it’s being hit by a Category 4 hurricane must be terrifying, especially when you already feel helpless as a parent with a child in a NICU. So hearing the babies made the journey safe and sound and are being cared for in another hospital is news as good as you can ask for, considering the circumstances.

There’s an infamous Mr. Rogers quote people like to trot out during every tragedy, but there’s a lot of truth in it. Anytime something scary happens, look for the helpers. And this time, the helpers were a group of nurses from Beaumont, Texas.

Students Raise $12k for Charity With a COVID Coloring Book

Covid Coloring Book
(Instagram/Be The Change Coloring Co)

Talking to your kids about COVID-19 can be tough. None of us have lived through a global pandemic before, so there’s not exactly a playbook for this. Four high school students in California are trying to make it easier, as they created a COVID Coloring Book to help kids understand the basics of the coronavirus.

The four students, Lauryn Hong, Ella Matlock, Sofia Migliazza, and Erin Rogers, created a business plan for a hypothetical book as part of an economics class project. After some encouragement from their teachers, they turned it into a real thing.

“We knew we wanted to do something for kids,” said Lauryn Hong said to the Washington Post. “We also knew we wanted to give back to the community. We considered doing a mask-decorating kit, but we decided on a coloring book because we wanted the kids to learn something. Covid is really confusing, even for us, and the coloring book is a way to keep them entertained and help them learn.”

 

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Thank you for all of the orders! Your books will be delivered sometime next week. 🐊💚💛 #SomeGoodNews

A post shared by Al E. Gator 🐊 (@bethechangecoloringco) on

They started ‘Be The Change Coloring Co.’ to create and sell the book. They expected to sell a couple of dozen to friends and family and planned to donate 40% of the proceeds to charities. They have since sold more than 7,000(!) books and donated more than $12,000 to charities including the CDC Coronavirus relief fund and local hospitals.

“I never thought that we would be at this stage in the business. I didn’t really think we would really have a business at all because it was supposed to be just a school project,” Rogers told a local news outlet. ”It’s really amazing to know that we’ve gotten to reach out to so many people.”

 

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We created a little video with a summary of what our business is about, please watch! 💛 + Erin’s editing with Sofia’s nonexistent feet

A post shared by Al E. Gator 🐊 (@bethechangecoloringco) on

According to their website, their main goals for the project are to educate young kids on the extreme issues of today and to give back to the community. The characters Al E. Gator, Wally the Narwhal, and Sam the Snail help kids entertained and informed about what’s going on.

You can buy a COVID Coloring Book for your kids at bethechangecoloringco.com

Principal Parodies “Can’t Touch This” for Back to School Amid COVID

Can't Touch This COVID Parody
(YouTube/Quentin Lee)

All over the country, parents are stressing over their kids’ back to school plans. Normally, the end of summer would be a time of celebration for moms and dads who are eager to get their kids out of the house and under someone else’s supervision for 8 hours a day, five days a week.

In 2020, things aren’t so cut and dried. Not only are many schools not bringing kids back, instead opting for a fully-remote experience, but the schools that are providing in-person teaching also don’t exactly have everything nailed down.

Teachers and administrators are just as stressed as parents, especially since they’re the ones at risk from catching COVID while interacting with dozens, and hundreds, of students that may or may not be wearing masks and following social distancing guidelines.

This situation is a nightmare for everyone, parents, students, and teachers. But at least one principal is having a little fun with it!

Dr. Quentin Lee, principal at Childersburg High School in Alabama, put out a video encouraging students to stay healthy at school, but it’s not some boring PSA. It’s a parody of MC Hammer’s 90s rap classic “Can’t Touch This” with COVID-based lyrics.

Lee says it took him 15 minutes to write the lyrics, for which he then filmed a video with help from students, teachers, and a local filmmaker. Now it’s gone viral with over 3.5 million views. Check it out below. I promise it’s 2 Legit 2 Quit watching.

Crayola Unveils Colorful Mask Pack for Kids and Teachers

Crayola school mask pack
(Crayola)

Parents are facing an incredibly difficult choice as schools prepare to open this fall. While districts in some cities have already announced plans to return with a remote format, many are attempting to have at least some in-person instruction, with a surprising number resuming their full schedule. Most schools are also allowing an online option for families who don’t feel safe sending their kids back.

It’s an incredibly difficult decision, different for every family in every city, and it’s a choice each family makes for their own reasons. For those sending their kids back to school this fall, there will be a new item on most back-to-school shopping lists: face masks.

As the science has proven the dramatic effect universal masking can have on limiting the spread of COVID-19, mask mandates are becoming the norm in many cities and school districts are following suit in requiring masks for teachers and strongly suggesting them (if not requiring them) for students.

This adds an extra layer of difficulty for parents, especially as many may have had their kids at home for much of the past four months. There’s a big difference between having your 8-year-old wear a mask for a weekly trip to the grocery store and wearing one every day for six hours.

Crayola is trying to make things easier on parents, with the release of a new set of masks for kids and teachers that are supposed to be safe, yet breathable. The colorful masks come in packs of five, as the School Maskpack provides a new mask for each school day.

A special laundry bag is included in the packs so parents can wash the five masks at the end of the week. The masks are adjustable so the fit isn’t an issue (as any parent knows, an ill-fitting mask just means your kid has their hands in their face CONSTANTLY). They also have options with name tags on them, helpful for teachers trying to make the masks seem a little less intimidating to younger students.


Wearing masks are going to be a routine part of everyday life for the foreseeable future, especially as more stores require them for shoppers nationwide.

Crayola’s masks are already a bestseller and are an easy way for parents to keep track of the newest classroom essential for kids. Parents can order them on Amazon and get them in early August, ahead of their kids returning to school.

NFL Unveils New Helmet Visor to Limit COVID Spread

Oakley Face Mask
(Oakley)

As professional sports continue to grapple with the best way to approach the COVID world, the NFL and Oakley have come up with (part of) a solution. The league and brand unveiled a new clear, plastic face shield for players’ helmets. The face shield is aimed to help limit the spread of droplets that could spread the virus.

Is it perfect? Obviously not, but it’s a start. The NFL, more than most of the team sports that have resumed thus far, involves a tremendous amount of close contact. The players in the trenches are breathing on each other all game long, so whatever additional safety measures the teams can take will likely be needed.

The face shield is a full visor, running the length of the front of the helmet. The typical visor, while rarely used, covers only a player’s eyes. The face shields aren’t mandated by the league but are strongly encouraged, and each team has been provided the new face shields in advance of the planned start to training camps next week.

The NFL is still tinkering with the design of face masks, and the NFLPA Medical Director has said they could have versions made with material similar to surgical or N95 masks to provide even more safety for players.

Astonishingly, the face masks are one of the few new developments the NFL has announced. Compared to the leagues that were forced to halt seasons in the spring due to the spread of COVID-19, the NFL has had more time than anyone to develop their safety precautions. Yet, here we are, close to when training camps should start, and the league has done precious little to reassure its stars they will be safe on the field.

With no hard details, NFL stars are starting to sound the alarm on social media. JJ Watt released a list of what the players know and don’t know, and others, such as Russell Wilson, expressed family concerns with playing in an uncertain environment.

“I am concerned. My wife is pregnant. NFL training camp is about to start. And there’s still no clear plan on player health and family safety. We want to play football but we also want to protect our loved ones. #Wewanttoplay.”

While the NFL’s plan to apparently hope for the best that the virus would be gone by now isn’t working, they can work with their players to quickly get up to speed and attempt a start to the NFL season this fall.

Daughter Invents Window That Allows Dad to Hug Quarantined Mom

(GMA / Kathy Rainwater-Roe)

When the coronavirus forced us all into quarantine, we all feared hugging would quickly become a remnant of simpler times. Social distancing guidelines made high risk endeavors out of the warm embrace of a loved one.

George and Jan Glass have been married for 61 years. Jan lives at the Hope Center Memory Care Facility. Her dementia makes it difficult to understand why she’s not allowed to touch her husband, who’d previously spent every day with her.

Thank goodness for a family with a background in physics!

The couple’s daughter, Cindy Shinabarger, designed a “Safe Hug Window” that utilizes sleeves and disposable gloves to allow loved ones to reach in and make safe physical contact with her.

Check out the video below to see Cindy’s Safe Hug Window in action!

Cindy told Good Morning America that her dad is visiting her mom on a regular basis once again and, through thick and thin, he will be there holding her hand. We wish them the best!

Dos Equis Introduces 6 Ft Beer Cooler to Promote Social Distancing

Dos Equis 6 Foot Cooler
(Dos Equis/PETER ZLEBEK)

It’s truly wild to see all of the innovative ways in which businesses are working to accommodate these new frustrating pandemic social norms. One seafood restaurant in Maryland is keeping patrons at a safe distance by turning them to human bumper cars. Another joint in Germany is achieving the same effect with foam pool noodles strapped to customers’ heads.

(Facebook/Cafe Rothe)

But easily the most ingenious thing we’ve yet to see come out of this new 6-feet rule is from the Mexican lager, Dos Equis. You may remember Dos Equis as the beer brand behind those massively popular “Most Interesting Man In The World” ads.


But now, in addition to thirsty, Dos Equis is insisting you stay safe and healthy. Now you can drink a whole new kind of responsibly, as the makers of the pilsner-style lager unveiled the very first social distancing beer cooler.

(Dos Equis / PETER ZLEBEK)

The Seis-Foot Cooler is, as you’d guess, six feet in length, providing the perfect buffer zone between you and a buddy looking to pound a few cold ones in the back yard. It’s essentially two smaller coolers with no storage space in between, but this novelty cooler is still bound to be a hit at your next gathering of no more than six people.

(Dos Equis)

Dos Equis is graciously giving away a few of these coolers for free. All you have to do is buy any Dos Equis product and submit a photo of your receipt right here to enter!

Stay health-conscious, my friends.

 

FDA Allows Doctors to Prescribe a Video Game as Medicine

EndeavorRX
(YouTube/Sean Hollister)

Parents are conditioned to think that screen time is a bad thing for kids. There are benefits, i.e., it keeps our kids busy and quiet for hours so we can have a break and actually get something done for once, and there are even some aspects of gaming that are good for kids. But most parents consider it a leisure activity and try to limit how much time kids spend playing.

Not anymore!

For the first time, a video game has actually been classified as medicinal!

In a landmark decision, the Food and Drug Administration is authorizing doctors to prescribe a video game for children with ADHD.

EndeavorRX, formerly Project EVO, is an iPhone/iPad game from Akili Interactive that is officially the first video game that can legally be marketed as medicine, after having spent 7 years undergoing clinical trials with over 600 children. The game involves dodging obstacles and collecting targets, and kids in the clinical trials played the game 25 minutes a day, five days a week for a month. According to a study shared on the company’s website, a third of those kids “no longer had a measurable attention deficit on at least one measure of objective attention…Improvements in ADHD impairments following a month of treatment with EndeavorRx were maintained for up to a month.”

Sounds good to me! Although, like many medicines, there are some side-effects, including frustration and headache, which is pretty much to be expected from any video game, medicinal or not!

Check out the trailer: