Revolutionising kids’ education to boost mental health from early age

Now THIS is the kind of revamp to kids’ education we have all been crying out for.

While focusing on how to teach teens about mental health and diversity, we seem to have created a huge blind spot – forgetting about preschoolers.

With 50% of mental health problems already established by age 14, it’s clear early intervention is vital so children can get to grips with emotional learning when they’re tiny tots.

[Credit: Think Equal]

This means, as they grow up, they are already well-versed with understanding their moods, what social inclusion looks like, and, crucially, how to ask for help if they need it.

So, please put your hands together for the incredible Think Equal.

This charity is on a crusade to rewrite history by equipping young people with awesome, age-appropriate wellness tools to become their best selves.

With a little help from some well-known pals, Think Equal have teamed up with Olivia Colman, Helen Mirren and Stephen Fry to spread the message far and wide.

[Credit: Think Equal]

Together, they are launching a new book series called EQlicious, in which the high-profile celebs will narrate a collection of animated stories for kids, aged three to six.

The initiative will also see an array of activities, games, song, and prompts for meaningful conversations gifted to families to help them introduce wellbeing into their living rooms.

Chatting about their goals, national treasure Mirren said that “empathy is the most important human emotion” and that these exercises will help our offspring develop more of it.

[Credit: Think Equal]

Meanwhile, Peep Show icon turned Hollywood star Colman said there are no quick fixes, so for truly impactful change, we need to play the long game.

Colman said: “We have to start early so that we can prevent discrimination and mental ill health and create peaceful societies with generations of happy, healthy and successful human beings.”

Think Equal are dedicated to tackling the current crisis, in which the Department of Health and Social Care spends £105billion a year on mental health disorders.

Founder Leslee Udwin, who has a background in filmmaking, explained: “We are calling for a systemic change. Studies show that the best time for pro-social foundations and co-creating positive neural pathways in the child’s developing brain, is before the age of six.”

Sounds like we could all benefit from their books, not just the little ones.

To get involved, just click here: EQlicious.

StarPups Coffee for dogs! Pet pooches pampered with new café

There’s nothing quite like sipping an Iced Mocha Grande on a sunny day.

Though if you’re walking the dog, you may have sad puppy eyes staring thirstily at you waiting for their turn.

Now, they don’t have to wait until they get home to attack the water bowl, instead, they can take a trip to StarPups for a lil’ pampering.

[Credit: HighParkPups]

Before you get too excited, we won’t be seeing this chain on every street corner just yet.

The canine café is located in Toronto, Canada, all courtesy of pooch mama, Kaya Kristina.

Her adorable initiative kickstarted six years ago, after she noticed that the neighbourhood dogs looked like they could use a lil’ pick-me-up after running around outside.

So, to treat them, she left some water on her front lawn with a sign, ‘For thirsty dogs’.  

[Credit: HighParkPups]

Soon, the local hounds were lapping up their gift and Kaya received messages from pet owners about how grateful they were to have passed her home.

Then, fast-forward to the pandemic, Kaya began brainstorming other ways she could help out and decided to leave some treats along with the water for her furball friends.

Not just any treats, mind! Posh ones. And it wasn’t long before the dogs gravitated towards the all-natural, high-protein snacks.

[Credit: Kaya Kristina]

Chatting about her venture, Kaya said she just hopes to “bring a little joy to their day”.

Kaya explained: “I thought of all the people living alone during COVID and how their mental health was suffering. I thought, ‘Most people are complaining about their husbands and kids driving them nuts being home all together. But do they think about their single friends who only have pets?’

“I wanted to give those people something to look forward to and make them feel special.”

[Credit: HighParkPups]

Speaking to The Dodo, she added: “I made a bunch of mini treat bags, made a little menu so people knew what they were giving their dog, and put a little stand out with options.

“It was so cute seeing the dogs go by and pull their owners to my house to go get a snack.”

Thanks to its booming success within the community, Kaya is now building a weatherproof set-up so that no dogs will have to walk away disappointed when it rains or snows.

Check out more fluffy pics here: StarPups Coffee.

Join The Worldwide Tribe: Incredible movement giving every person a voice

In a world of disconnect, how can we reconnect? Especially when headlines scaremonger and divide us, even if this is subconscious.

The one thing that transcends all age, race, religion, and gender, is love and the ability to see one another as human regardless of our background.

This is why the remarkable team at The Worldwide Tribe are using stories to highlight the humanity behind world issues, on their mission to spark global community.

[Credit: The Worldwide Tribe]

They do this by tapping into creative storytelling to bring a personal, human perspective to the issues that dominate our news channels and 24/7 timelines.

The tribe also invest in grassroots projects, donating to the very people that make a difference to the lives of those in need.

Not only are The Worldwide Tribe founders passionate about shining a light on the humanitarian crisis, but they also just so happen to be three siblings who kickstarted their quest after opening their doors (and hearts) to refugees in need of a foster home.

It all began when the O’Hara family from England decided to foster a child, after their kids – Jaz, Nils, and Finn – grew up and flew the nest.

[Credit: The Worldwide Tribe]

Jaz explained: “Back in early 2015, we all had normal jobs. I worked in the fashion industry, my brother Nils worked in advertising, and my youngest brother Fin was still at school.

“As Fin was nearing 18, our parents decided to foster a new brother or sister, in fear that they would soon have an empty house. They couldn’t have been more wrong!”

Jaz added: “As our parents went through the lengthy process, it became increasingly likely our new sibling would be coming via the refugee camp in Calais known as ‘The Jungle’. My parents live in Kent and there were many unaccompanied minors arriving there at the time.”

‘The Jungle’ had just started to appear in the news back then, yet coverage of the camp was extremely negative and dehumanising, with headlines such as ‘Swarms of Migrants’.

Jaz had so many questions about the people living there, that she made the journey to go and visit. A trip which she says, “changed my life”.

[Credit: The Worldwide Tribe]

While in Calais, Jaz met many people who, despite their intense trauma, still welcomed her with open arms and shared cups of tea or food with her even though they had so little.

On her return home, Jaz posted about her experiences on Facebook, and was stunned when it went viral and was shared tens of thousands of times.

It was that one post that sparked a movement of people wanting to donate, to volunteer, to get involved in any way that they could. And so began The Worldwide Tribe.

Now, Jaz has two new brothers, Mez from Africa and Arash from Afghanistan, and works tirelessly to raise awareness for the other 70million children, women and men who were forcibly displaced last year and yet struggle to receive basic empathy, compassion and safety.

Yet Jaz can’t do it alone, and she needs your help!

Alongside encouraging the public to donate to support people on the ground in refugee camps, there is also a shop where you can buy hoodies and T-shirts to support the cause.

To get involved, just click here: The Worldwide Tribe.

Reinventing school dinners: Student food never looked so delicious

Now, don’t get us wrong, we have very fond memories of that chocolate sponge cake drenched in chocolate custard that only schools seemed to serve.

But every day? Nah.

We can’t expect kids to thrive, mentally and physically, if we’re not nourishing them and educating them on how nutrition can influence their wellbeing.

This is why we wish hard that Chefs in Schools existed when we were young!

[Credit: Chefs in Schools]

As the name suggests, they are literally chefs who work in schools.

Thanks to their culinary backgrounds, they bring expertise into the classroom to inspire young people to make smart choices and show that healthy eating can be fun.

The brainchild of Nicole Pisani, she quit her job as head chef at top London restaurant, Soho’s Nopi, to become a school chef at Gayhurst Community School in Hackney.

Chatting about the unconventional role switch, Nicole said she had lost her passion for food in the corporate world and wanted to reconnect with her fondness for it.

[Credit: Chefs in Schools]

Nicole said: “The reason I fell in love with food was to see people enjoy it and to feel like you’re connecting with someone because you’ve cooked for them.

“But the longer you spend in restaurants, the less of that good feeling you get.”

She continued: “Cooking with children is what I love most. You turn into a five-year-old yourself. It’s hard not to be happy.

“They’re literally excited about grating cheese. They love going up and down the grater.”

[Credit: Chefs in Schools]

What began as a mission to encourage children in socially deprived areas to have access to good food, has now bloomed into a project with trained chefs in 44 schools across the UK.

Today, Chefs in Schools strive to deliver clean, healthy, inexpensive, and mind-opening food, enabling schools around the country to follow their lead.

They do this by sending a team of chef trainers who go from school to school showing kitchen staff how to cook and serve up nutritious meals made from scratch, so it’s out with processed ingredients while responsibly sourced fresh and seasonal produce are in.

[Credit: Chefs in Schools]

Nicole and her squad also help schools design menus, support them to learn the dishes and help from afar once they are up and running.

Last but not least, they recruit chefs for schools, helping foodies make the transition from professional kitchens to a busy canteen.

The crew are also passionate about fighting the obesity crisis, with diet-related disease costing the NHS £6billion a year, and believe knowledge is power.

As Nicole put perfectly: “Food can either be medicine or it can be poison. It’s our choice.”

For more info, click here: Chefs in Schools.

A dazzling display! 100s of shooting stars to light up the sky tonight

If ever there was an excuse to put your phone down and step away from social media, tonight is the night.

An incredible dance of shooting stars is set to light up the night sky, in a mind-blowing spectacle where you could witness up to 120 per hour.

While shooting stars are typically something depicted in a Disney movie, what actually happens is down to meteors (pieces of debris) hitting the atmosphere, rubbing against air particles to create friction which heats them up, before they vaporise and streak across the sky.

[Credit: Shutterstock]

The meteors are very bright and are unusual in being multi-coloured, with shades of white, yellow, green, red, and blue. These colours are partly caused by the presence of traces of metals like sodium and calcium, the same effect that is used to make fireworks colourful.

Now, you can see them for yourself in what is coined the ‘Geminid Meteor Shower’, hurling through the night from December 13 through to December 14 until sunrise.

The beautiful display is thanks to the debris left behind by asteroid 3200 Phaethon, an active asteroid with an orbit that brings it closer to the sun than any other named asteroid. For this reason, it was named after the Greek myth of Phaëthon, son of the sun god Helios.

[Credit: Mark de Jong]

Now, when the Earth passes through the trails of dust every December, we see the Geminid meteor shower as the dust (meteoroids) burn up in the atmosphere creating shooting stars.

This phenomenon is visible all over the world, so just find a spot in your local area, ideally dark with minimum light pollution, find a large patch of open sky, and look up.

It is said the best time to view these fireballs are at the darkest hour, just before dawn. You can find out the best viewing time where you live, by clicking here: Shooting Stars.

[Credit: Ryan Jacobson]

If you happen to be at a Christmas party early next week, fear not, they are plenty of other celestial extravaganzas taking place this month.

Notably, Venus (the hottest planet in our solar system) is busy shining at its brightest while the arrival of the Full Cold Moon (last full moon of the year) swoops in on December 18.

You can also join in the Urulu activities, either in Australia or from afar, on December 21, to play your part in helping to spark global healing.

The end of plastic toys! Awesome eco-friendly gifts for your little ones

It’s all very well trying to be eco-friendly in adulthood, but unless we introduce the concept to future generations, then our efforts are somewhat redundant.

That might sound easier said than done, when lil’ Jonny or Jane is pleading for the latest toy on their Christmas wishlist because they’ve been good this year.

Yet now, thanks to environmentally-conscious trinkets, the whole family can help save the planet whether you’re eight or 80.

The festive elves over at Inhabitat, a lifestyle publication that champions sustainable design, have been busy collating an ultra-green gadget list for you to pick your pressies from.

Check them out below!

[Credit: KOOKAROO]

1) KOOKAROO Playdough Tools

Hey, what’s a childhood without playdough?!

This brilliant lab-tested, kid-friendly kit promises no splinters, no toxins, no worries.

Their air-dry clay tools are sanded for smoothness and free of all chemicals, making it sustainably produced and safe for the ecosystem.

The gift is also perfect for baking and cooking as it works with flour dough, meaning your tots will love using the board and tools to make piecrust, pastry, pizza, or cookies.

[Credit: Micro Kickboard]

2) Micro Kickboard

Introducing fuel-free transport from an early age, this scooter will keep your child entertained in and out the house as they whiz around on adventures.

Made from recycled plastic pulled from the ocean, one of the models (Mini Deluxe Eco) also incorporates fishing nets, ropes, and trawls that have been removed from the sea.

Meanwhile, a portion of all profits are donated to planet charities. So it really is win-win.

[Credit: Fair Trade]

3) Fair Trade plush baby toy

Not only are these adorable items free from plastic and chemically-laden materials, they also provide auditory and visual stimulation thanks to their colours, shape and knitted textures.

Fair Trade certification offers transparency around the product’s place of origin and supports otherwise marginalised communities by connecting them to a buying network. 

Great for role play, storytelling and imaginative play.

[Credit: Pact]

4) Pact clothing

Ethically sourced material has never been so comfortable!

These 100% organic cotton items provides undeniable softness, with a snug fit.

The perfect pressie for parents on the prowl for affordable, super soft, high quality children’s clothing without harmful chemicals or dyes.

They are also made with Fair Trade cotton, meaning certification ensures that farmers get paid a fair price for their organic cotton and additional money goes directly into a community-managed bank account that belongs to the farmers and/or factory workers.

[Credit: Camden Rose]

5) Camden Rose Play Kitchen

This fantastic company believe it is possible to raise healthy children without the harmful toxins and electronic influences that challenge today’s families.

Consequently, they create beautiful wooden toys, furniture, and kitchen items, handcrafted from local trees by talented craftsmen.

Now, you can get your hands on a fabulous culinary world for your rugrats with a safe kitchen that is guaranteed to be plastic-free.

Good luck, Santa!

For the full article, click here: Eco-Friendly Gifts.

Life is tough, but so are you: Tips to beat the blues and boost positivity

While many of us relish Christmas and the excitement it brings, there are those who fear it.

Whether because of financial woes, toxic families, or isolation, sadly Santa can’t always give us what we want.

However, there are ways we can boost mood over the holidays that are simple, speedy, and most importantly, free.

So, while we may not be able to wave a magic wand to change the cards that life has dealt us, by practicing wellbeing little and often, we can learn to combat stress that harms us.

The positively positive peeps at the Power of Positivity (try saying that after your third Snowball) have whipped up the best exercises you need to revamp your outlook. Check them out below!

As they say, it may be easier said than done, but it’s easier done than not.

[Credit: Ran Berkovich]

1) Believe in yourself

Sounds too simple to work, right?! Yet it is proven that self-belief triggers a pattern in people where they experience less anxiety and more fearlessness.

Start by setting some goals and believing that you can achieve these targets. You may well stumble along the way, and that is fine, learning to accept your blunders is part of the deal.

However, the key to success lies with being able to pick yourself up and start again.

[Credit: Brett Jordan]

2)  Stop creating excuses

Ready for some tough love?

Then it’s time to quit making excuses about everything you can’t do and start making declarations about what you will do.

Change your attitude and watch all the amazing things that start happening to you. Sure, there will still be obstacles, that’s life, thought procrastination is what will hold you back.

[Credit: Unsplash]

3) Count your blessings

It’s not always easy to practice gratitude during dark moments.

Yet the art of being thankful has incredible benefits, from boosting the immune system to improving relationships to increasing optimism.

So, rather than focus on what you don’t have, try shining a light on what you do have.

With a roof over your head, phone in your pocket, money in the bank, and a beating heart, many people would give anything have those things – don’t ever take it for granted.

[Credit: Shutterstock]

4) Overcome painful past experiences

You don’t have to forget, but rather not dwell.

We all have gnarly moments from our past that given the opportunity, we would erase. But truth bomb, no amount of reflection will change the outcome.

So, stop turning around to look down memory lane or ask, ‘What if I’d done that differently?’ Keeping your mind focused on the present will help you to towards the life you want.

[Credit: Shutterstock]

5) Stop beating yourself up

They say many of us wouldn’t talk to a friend in the same way we talk to ourselves, so why do we berate ourselves over mistakes?

There is no such thing as perfect and sometimes we mess up or fail. C’est la vie.

If you can learn to let go and stop being so hard on yourself, you will notice the building blocks to self-esteem start to empower you. Negative self-talk will get you nowhere fast.

Yes, life is full of trauma and unfortunate events. It is tough. But you got this!!  

For the full article, click here: Positivity Exercises.

Mouthwatering cinnamon buns: Grab a sweet treat to end homelessness

Sometimes, when you’re low on cash, you can feel torn between needing to buy food for yourself or donating it to others.

Now, you can do both at the same time.

By nabbing some tastebud-ticklin’ sweet treats, you will not only make your own belly sing, but also help to fight homelessness too.

Gifting this opportunity is the awesome House of Cinn, on a crusade to support rough sleepers one delicious cinnamon bun at a time.  

[Credit: House of Cinn]

Their mouthwatering (and equally eye-popping) creations include delicacies such as cookies and cream, caramel and pecan, very berry cheesecake, and even Lotus Biscoff flavour.

In exchange for purchasing their handmade creations, which are sold online and stocked in Selfridges, the team vow to turn profits into acts of goodwill.

They do this by offering love, community and financial empowerment to those most in need, helping people on the streets get back on their feet and break cycles of poverty.

[Credit: House of Cinn]

Together with Street Cafe charity, who help the homeless integrate back into society, their project gives people the chance to regain freedom through buddy systems and employment schemes.

Speaking about their mission, the House of Cinn squad say their unique approach is to focus on helping one person at a time rather than using a blanket attitude for everyone.

The team said: “We’ve built a strong relationship with someone we met on the streets in 2017. For the past three years, we’ve got to know him well, and have been on a journey.

“We’re now getting ready to jump into back-to-work training with some bun-making skills to support him on the road to a new sustainable lifestyle. We’re so excited to see his future unfold.”

[Credit: House of Cinn]

They added: “We know fighting homelessness is more than giving people physical resources. We believe in helping people rediscover hope in community.

“Our holistic approach combines community building with mentoring and employment support for sustainable change.”

Can someone put these guys in charge, please?!

To grab your buns, click here: House of Cinn.

A giant leap for self-esteem! Adverts to be positive and inspiring

The wallpaper of our world, whether we like it or not, is the adverts that adorn our streets, tube stations, bus journeys, and TV channels.

Yet soon big brands pushing their agendas on us with visuals that we know influence our self-esteem and how we view society, could be a thing of the past.

Instead, we would see our towns and cities booming with positive and inspiring stories.

[Credit: Martin Sanchez]

The trailblazers of this movement hail from São Paulo, Brazil, after they banned nearly all corporate advertising in 2007, removing 15,000 billboards and 300,000 shop-front signs.

Following in their footsteps, Grenoble in France stripped their streets of bullying messages and replaced them with trees and community noticeboards in a bid to reduce citizen stress. 

Then Amsterdam wanted in on the action, and last year became the world’s first city to ban adverts that promote high-carbon industries.

[Credit: Adfree Cities]

Here in the UK, we are also waking up to the idea that residents have more power than we think when it comes to saying no to aggressive marketing in our neighbourhoods.

One powerhouse group, Adfree Cities, are proudly supporting locals to oppose billboard planning applications then together creating a new vision for the space.

Instead of companies pushing their latest product on you, they are asking communities what they would like to see in lieu of, such as a mural, planting trees, or building a climbing wall.

[Credit: Markus Freise]

Meanwhile, over in Bristol, Adfree Cities’s parent company Adblock have created an installation of art by local folk on a billboard that was previously used for commercial ads.

Chatting about the impact it is having, a member of the group, Benoit Bennett, said people are benefitting deeply from the changes to their surroundings.

Speaking to Positive News, Benoit said: “The contrast between that and a commercial billboard, so alienating to a lot of people, is huge. It shows that these spaces can be ours.”

Other areas are joining the race to make sure future generations are motivated by their world, instead of beaten down by it.

In particular, special shoutout to Norwich city council who voted a new motion in this summer to support ethical advertising as a duty of care to residents.

‘We rise by lifting others’ Singer plays prank on fans to raise cash for kids

Some people are happy with socks, others want Lynx, and maybe a cheeky few ask for an Xbox, yet one musician boldly requested cash for his birthday.

However, while the demand may have been a little diva-esque, it turns out it was all a ruse to get fans to dig deep into their pockets for charity.

So deep in fact, that they helped raised a whopping NGN [Nigerian Naira] 200,000,000 (£37k) for orphanages to support abused and abandoned children have a better life.

[Credit: Davido]

It all kicked off with Davido, one of Africa’s most successful musicians, joking on social media that he wanted donations to get his Rolls Royce released from a port.

His adoring fanbase dutifully obliged, and the dollar started rolling in.

Davido then revealed to his 22million-strong army on Instagram that the cash was actually being given to orphanages across the country.

Humbled by the vast sums raised, Davido said he felt “sincere gratitude” for the “generous expressions of love” and that the “outcome exceeded expectations”.

[Credit: Davido]

Davido, who also contributed NGN 50,000,000 (£92k) from his own pocket, said: “My goal is to do this fundraising every year to celebrate my birthday and give back to people in need.”

The heartwarming act of kindness will transform many lives, as the money will be divided to caregivers by a specially selected committee to determine its fair distribution.

Davido added: “I express my sincere gratitude to friends, colleagues, fans, and everyone that made this possible. We rise by lifting others.”

In honour of his incredible philanthropy, fans flocked to the comments section on Insta to praise him, with one declaring Davido “man of the year”.

Looks like Santa just got relegated.

[Credit: Davido]