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Folds of Honor: Giving Back to America’s Fallen Heroes

By heeding to a higher call, one man’s mission is helping to ensure no family is left behind on the field of battle. Honoring our fallen military heroes is the least we can do for their ultimate sacrifice. But so often, their valor has been overlooked as we fully engage in the very freedom they fought to protect. Defenders of our liberties, many leave behind families who not only suffer the loss of their loved one but have an uncertain future ahead of them. In 2007, Major Dan Rooney sought to change this indifferent attitude and help military families when he founded the Folds of Honor Foundation. The non-profit provides scholarships to spouses and children of severely disabled veterans or those killed in action. The organization creates a legacy for the fallen, helping to ensure the continuing education of the loved ones they left behind. A Light in the Darkness To know the impact the organization is having is to hear the stories of Folds of Honor families. At a time of devastation, Folds of Honor helps bring closure for

Nikon Small World: The Tiny World of Microphotography

Super-resolution microscopic photography brings never-before-seen images to public view. Discovering magnificence in photographs so detailed, we are swayed to think the subjects are otherworldly. Microscopic wonders abound all around us, dazzling us with their surreal beauty when captured on film. They appear as extraterrestrial landscapes, fantastical creatures, intricate patterns, and strange structures. What the public cannot see with the naked eye, individuals using super-resolution microphotography are bringing to light. Recently, Nikon Instruments announced the winners of the forty-sixth annual Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition. Since 1974, the annual competition has been open to anyone interested in photography, including scientists, artists, and hobbyists. This year’s judging panel consisted of scientists, journalists, and photographers who selected twenty winning images based on the best combination of originality, informational content, technical proficiency, and visual impact. First Place Winner The top prize was awarded to Daniel Castranova, assisted by Bakary Samasa, as they worked in Dr. Brant Weinstein’s laboratory at the National Institutes of Health. The winning entry of a full-bodied juvenile zebrafish was artfully rendered and a technically immaculate photograph. The zebrafish, suspended in

Diane Latiker: Chicago South Side’s Founder Of “Kids Off The Block” (KOB)

Chicago South Side’s Ms. Diane opens her heart and home for at-risk youths to realize their potential. A Memorial Like No Other Another stone is placed on a memorial wall in Roseland, a neighborhood in Chicago. Bearing a name and date, the stone is carefully and lovingly displayed among the other 800 stones that have been collecting there since 2007. The wall is a sad testament of young lives cut short by the barrel of a gun. Worse yet, the wall has been rebuilt 15 times since 2007, and is over 400 stones behind! Diane Latiker, a community activist and founder of Kids Off the Block (KOB), set up the memorial wanting to shock “her community and the youth she served,”  KOB is a non-profit started in 2003 in Roseland, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago, where walking home from school could mean dodging a gauntlet of bullets. Even Latiker is not immune to her neighborhood’s violence. Her own van was found shot up by gangs. On another occasion, she says she found herself between two guns with

The Exquisite and Exotic Wood Carvings of Bali

Artisans are preserving their cultural tradition of wood carving on the Island of the Gods. Turning blocks of wood into intricate sculptures is a classic art form in Bali. Known as the Island of the Gods because of the preponderance of Balinese Hinduism in daily day life and architecture, Bali became the center of traditional Hindu-Javanese wood carving. Early wood carvings always portrayed religious themes, and later were intertwined with everyday life, turning a cultural heritage into a distinctive art form. Crafting a Tradition Prior to the 20th century, Balinese wood carvings were not intended for decorative home use as they are today. These hand-carved creations were mainly used in ceremonies, temples, and palaces. Ceremonial figurines depicting deities and masks were made to ward off evil spirits. Balinese wood carving started about the 11th century with Buddhist and Hindu influences. It wasn’t until the 14th century that it flourished along with painting, gold and silversmithing, and stone carving by artisans of the Majapahit Kingdom, of which Bali was a colony. During this period, Hindu influence prevailed and continued the tradition

Haben Girma: A Champion of Disability Inclusion as Part of Diversity

From refugee to Harvard grad: She champions inclusion and dignity for people with disabilities.  We Are All Able The word “disability” usually comes with a negative connotation. It seems to deny the fact that there are people of all shapes, sizes, and skills that require judgement-free social services. Today, sadly, it seems that the differences that make our world colorful, unique, and progressive can also be a cause for isolation for many people. But Haben Girma, a deaf-blind Harvard scholar, is living proof that we are all able to complete grand missions no matter our abilities if we have the courage in our hearts and the support of our communities.  Girma is a public speaker and disability rights advocate with international fame. She aims to have inclusive practices for people with disabilities in every aspect of our daily lives. And she believes that technology can level the playing field.  She’s a lawyer, activist, and author who has been named a White House Champion of Change by President Barack Obama, spoken at national conferences, and gave a lecture on accessible design

Estella Mims Pyfrom And Her Brilliant Bus For Underprivileged Kids

Underprivileged kids take charge of their destiny on a magical mobile learning lab. Magic School Bus  In today’s digital age, information is everywhere. This has made for a more informed general public, but some poor and rural locations have fallen behind due to a lack of resources. That’s why Estella Pyfrom, an 82-year-old activist and educator from Quincy, Florida, is giving those who need it an “education on wheels.” Her ‘magic school bus’ established a movement to make education accessible to all. The Brilliant Bus is a non-profit, designed to help both underprivileged children and adults access education, modern technology, and educational resources no matter where they live. The project is helping to eliminate the digital divide in communities and has been featured during a Microsoft Super Bowl commercial, in O, The Oprah Magazine, and was a recipient of Toyota’s Standing O-vation award. Pyfrom was also named a CNN Top 10 Hero. You can watch her hero story here… Retirement Redefined When most people retire, they usually spend their savings on traveling, moving to a different country, or satisfying their

Dominic Walliman and Professor Astro Cat

Knowledge and humor combine to make science exciting and easy to understand. Nighttime has arrived, and you’re about to put your child or grandchild to bed, and he or she asks you to please, please read a bedtime story. You gladly oblige and see some books neatly stacked on a shelf and reach for Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but the child asks for the book about the laws of physics. Puzzled, you reluctantly agree, wondering how you will ever get through that material, fully expecting to be peppered with questions you can’t answer. On top of that, you’ll miss that primetime television show you’ve been waiting for all day. Opening the book, you begin to read, and the child eagerly awaits as if ready to embark on an great adventure. Before you know it, you too are absorbed in the subject matter, engrossed in the easy to understand language, and soaking up knowledge. You notice sleep has overcome the child, and you find yourself reading more. A Passion for Science Who knew subjects like quantum physics and mathematics could make such

Bernadette Placky: Climate Central’s Weather Expert

She’s educating the public on extreme weather events and the impact of climate change. Weather the Storm There is no Planet B. Climate change is real and it is threatening the way most people live. Bernadette Woods Placky says there is no debating the science that weather is heating up and that the global population is feeling the effects. Woods Placky is the Chief Meteorologist and Program Director for the Climate Matters program on Climate Central, a nonprofit news organization focused on climate research. Discussing the effects of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, fossil fuels, and human consumption on our ecosystem are normal conversations for Woods Placky. She understands the dangers of extreme weather patterns, like sea level rise, drought, heat, and more. As an accomplished journalist, she has a knack for simplifying complex terms and spitting out the truth. She’s appeared on MSNBC, Public Radio, ABC, PBS, and other major networks linking our weather to climate change. “You can’t go outside if the weather is not cooperating. I learned this lesson when I was young, and it still applies to

4ocean is “Changing the Tide on Ocean Pollution”

Two entrepreneurs are effectively eradicating plastic pollution by creating the first economy for ocean plastic. Facing a Tidal Wave of Plastic For Andrew Cooper and Alex Schulze, it was the surfing trip of a lifetime when the two recent college grads went to Bali to enjoy big waves and exotic beaches. Once there, they were taken aback at all the trash piled up along the shore, spoiling their dream vacation. A local lifeguard told them the beach had been cleaned earlier in the day and what they saw washed ashore within the past few hours. Their trip of a lifetime turned into a long-term commitment to clean the oceans of plastic waste. “When you spend that much time on the water you really have an affinity for the ocean and an appreciation for it,” Schulze says to CNBC Make It. Cooper and Schulze both grew up with a love of surfing, boating, fishing, and sandy beaches. The two met at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, and became friends. As they looked into the problem of plastic waste, they

WiderNet: Defeating Information Poverty In Developing Nations

An “Internet in a box” bridges the information divide between developed and developing countries. Imagine not ever having access to the Internet. How could we possibly survive! We use the Internet for our communications, streaming music and videos, banking, telehealth, social media, online learning, games, exercise, cooking lessons, working remotely, and more! We’ve become so used to the Internet as part of our everyday life that we’re practically spoiled and can’t seem to go without it. The Disconnect But, did you know 90 percent of the 1.1 billion households not connected to the Internet are in developing countries? That’s according to the U.N. Telecommunication Development Bureau, which also reports fixed broadband services remain expensive in developing countries, accounting for 30.1 percent of average monthly income, compared to 1.7 percent in developed countries. And in the developing world, 31 percent of the population is online, compared to 77 percent in the developed world. It’s hard for us to imagine not having instant access to information anytime, anywhere. But in many universities, schools, clinics, and hospitals in developing countries, there is no