You can change lives just by sharing one photo. Here’s how.

You take so many photos every day. Wouldn’t it be great if the photos you take of the people, places and things you love could also do some good?

Believe it or not, humans take over one trillion photos every year. We document births and weddings, holidays and graduations, and so, so many selfies (don’t worry about anything, you look amazing!). While just the act of taking photos can be a joy, your photos can do much more than document your best memories. In fact, sharing your photos can actually improve the health of people all around the world.

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Photo by rawpixel/Unsplash

Johnson & Johnson’s Donate a Photo app allows you to do just that with your selfies, photos of dogs, food from that fancy restaurant you tried last week, or anything else you snap photos of.

All you need to do is download the app and share a photo, and Johnson & Johnson will donate one dollar per picture to causes you care about. What’s more, when you share your donated photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, it creates a ripple effect. You’ll make others aware of the causes you care about, and maybe inspire them to join in, too.

Johnson & Johnson has carefully selected partner organizations that do everything from delivering vaccines  to children around the globe to helping young, underserved children preserve and improve their sight to connecting service members with their families while they’re deployed.

The program has helped people like Lucy Cotto, an Operation Smile ambassador, who received a life-changing cleft palate correction surgery to heal her smile.

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Lucy Cotto and a photo donated via Donate a Photo user. Photo via Johnson & Johnson

Since the program’s inception, more than 200,000 people have shared nearly 4 million photos, which in turn have helped people all around the world get easier access to the essential treatments and services they need.

The app’s success is based on one simple premise: that when lots of people work together to do good, those small acts add up to big change.

We all want to do good in our lives, and it always feels like we could be doing more, but time and (often) finances make that a difficult proposition. Donate a Photo makes it easy to give to a number of causes that are changing people’s lives for the better.

Johnson & Johnson’s long history of commitment to human health and bringing people together to make the world a better place makes it easy to trust that the photos you share will make an impact.

And that impact can be felt across a wide spectrum of health-related areas. Here are just a few of them.

Donate a Photo has raised enough money to help 2,304 children in need of cleft palate correctionsThey’ve also made it possible for over 67,000 children around the world to receive much needed vaccines via donations to the Shot@Life.  And more than 55,000 infants were able to take their first breaths thanks to resuscitation devices from Save the Children.

What’s more, Johnson & Johnson is making it possible for the healers of tomorrow to learn the valuable skills they’ll need. Through the power of your photos, they’ve been able to help The National Student Nurses’ Association provide 133 future nurses with scholarships that will help them achieve their goals in their chosen fields.

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Helen Pham — a FNSNA scholarship candidate and a photo donated via Donate a Photo user. Photo via Johnson & Johnson.

So the next time you take a photo, remember you could be saving so much more than an awesome memory.

Our photos connect us with our family and friends by capturing the good times. Now, those good times can help transform the world into a healthier place.

That place now has people like Helen Pham, who’s getting her nursing degree thanks to Johnson & Johnson’s partnership with the FNSNA, and babies who don’t ever have to worry about taking their first breaths. And it wouldn’t be possible without innovations that connect us all.

Whether you share a photo of your dog, your cat, your kid, or your favorite vacation spot, there’s one thing you can remember: It only takes a second to make a difference. That power is in your hands.

Learn more about the Donate a Photo app in the video below:

Changing people's lives, one photo at a time

If you love sharing photos on social media, and you love changing the lives of people everywhere, here's an app that lets you do both!

Posted by Upworthy on Monday, November 5, 2018

She grew up appreciating her diverse heritage. Now she encourages others to do the same.

Maha AJ grew up proud of her Sudanese-Iraqi heritage. Her parents made sure of it.

From the time she was little, Maha Jaafar’s (or Maha AJ as she’s known to her fans) family constantly wove her mixed cultural identity into her life. Her dad would show her maps of Sudan and teach her about her culture’s history and traditions, while her mom would show her how to make both Iraqi and Sudanese dishes.

“Mom always encouraged us to be proud of our Sudanese heritage without losing our Iraqi identity,” she says in a YouTube video. “I never felt that I was lost between cultures. Instead, I always knew I belonged to both, but each in a different way.”

Growing up in the United Arab Emirates, Maha was exposed to many different cultures, which also helped mold her appreciation of diversity. “Living here, you have all types of nationalities all around you,” she says. “It’s very multicultural and there are people from all different countries, and everyone still holds onto their identity, so you can understand their culture.”

However, stereotypes and prejudices still persist there. Maha is on a mission to change that.

Despite growing up in a diverse country, she often felt judged by classmates who didn’t understand her mixed heritage. The question, “where are you from?” began to feel aggressive and limiting, because she felt people were trying to box her into a cultural stereotype.

So Maha set out to break through the misconceptions about her unique background by making videos that celebrate it.

She’s is using her art and her platform to help “bridge the gap” between the cultures in her community. “Our diversity is what makes us richer, stronger, and more beautiful,” she says, “and the world needs to see all that beauty.”

It’s also why Maha is one of YouTube’s 47 Creators for Change Ambassadors— an initiative for YouTubers hoping to inspire awareness and empathy for diverse communities.

Launched in 2016, the YouTube Creators for Change program encourages and highlights creators who are tackling the social issues that impact them and their communities. The global initiative names Ambassadors from around the world who use their channels to promote inclusivity and diversity and drive social change. Each Ambassador receives grant money to put toward “social impact project” videos and to aid them in adding their voices to important initiatives and events around the globe.

Ambassadors also pay it forward by mentoring Fellows — up-and-coming creators who work with Ambassadors to help create a dialogue around social issues in their communities.

Maha’s YouTube debut two years ago put her on Creators for Change’s radar. Today, the 25-year-old dentist spends half her time fixing people’s teeth and half her time pursuing her passion for creating impactful videos.

Becoming a Creators for Change Ambassador has already had a big impact on Maha.

Thanks to the program, she’s gotten to meet other YouTube creators who’ve inspired her, and has even become close friends with many of them.

“This has been one of the best experiences in my life,” she says, “because it’s made me feel ever supported and appreciated. It made me have a platform to reach more people and inspire more people, and it gave me a lot of motivation for myself to go forward with what I want.”

Maha says she wants to use her channel to share the positive things about her cultural heritage and to correct misconceptions and stereotypes, especially about Sudan. She also wants her videos to connect people and promote our shared humanity.

“My ultimate goal,” she says,”is to make people understand that we’re all one, and there’s no need for hating on each other or not understanding each other, because at the end of the day we’re all humans.”

These global Ambassadors, like Maha, reach millions of people. Their messages have the potential to change the world.

As Maha says, anyone with a cell phone and/or internet can make connections with people and develop a platform for positive change.

As more and more young people find not just entertainment but heroes and idols in the YouTube space, it’s heartening to know that there are awesome, real individuals doing conscious work to bring people together and promoting ideas and actions that will lead humanity to a better future for all.

This 11-year-old U.S. citizen has been separated from her asylum-seeking mom for 222 days.

11-year-old Yeisvi Carrillo, an American citizen, has been in foster care for more than 220 days after being forcibly separated from her mother at the border.

Vilma Carrillo and her husband were living in Georgia in 2006 when Vilma gave birth to their daughter, Yeisvi. They lived there for about a year as undocumented farm workers in onion fields and warehouses before returning to their home country of Guatemala to care for Carrillo’s ailing mother in 2007.

A few years later, Carrillo’s husband grew violent. Carrillo was brutally abused, burned and beaten with increasing intensity, to the point that Yeisvi worried that her dad might kill her mom. That’s when Carrillo decided to return to the U.S. with her daughter and seek asylum.

In an interview with Upworthy, Shana Tabak, Executive Director of the Tahirih Justice Center in Atlanta, the legal non-profit who is representing Carrillo in immigration court, describes Carrillo’s abuse as “severe.” “Her four front teeth were punched out by her abuser,” Tabak says. “She was pulled by her hair, naked, wearing her underwear. Years of this. She finally decided that she feared too much for her life to stay.”

In May, Vilma and Yeisvi crossed the border in Arizona and requested asylum.That’s when they were forcibly separated.

Within 15 minutes of being held, border officials recognized that the 11-year-old Yeisvi was a U.S. citizen. They called in officials from the state of Arizona and told them that they couldn’t detain the girl because of her citizen status.

“They had Vilma sign papers relinquishing her custody of her daughter for 90 days,” says Tabak.  “Vilma did not understand what she was signing because she does not read or write in any language. She’s an indigenous Mam speaker, who at the time spoke very little Spanish and no English.”

Then her daughter was torn from her, Tabak says. “She was crying and screaming so much that Vilma fainted and lost consciousness, and when she woke up her daughter was gone.” Yeisvi was put into foster care and Vilma was transferred to Irwin Detention Center in Atlanta.

It’s now been more than six months since the mother and daughter have seen one another.

In a cruel twist, Carrillo was flown to Texas for reunification in July, when the government was required to reunite separated families. Then she was told, “No, not you.”

As if being separated from your child by half a continent isn’t painful enough, Carrillo briefly thought that she and Yeisvi were going to be reunited when a judge ruled that families who had been subject to the government’s policy of detaining children separately from their parents must be reunited by July 26, 2018.

“In advance of the July deadline the authorities thought that she was qualified for reunification,” says Tabak. “So she and nine of her friends here from the Irwin Detention Center were taken to Texas to be reunited with their daughters. One by one, she watched them all be reunified. She kept asking, ‘What about me? What about my daughter?’ and they said, ‘No, not you,’ and then they sent her back here.”

Carrillo went to court without an attorney, without an interpreter who could understand her, and without the asylum documents that had been prepared for her by an attorney. Those documents were in a backpack when she was transferred back to Georgia from Texas, and she wasn’t allowed access to that backpack in time for her hearing. She said, on the record, “I don’t understand what’s happening and I don’t have my documents,” but the judge denied her asylum petition. That denial has been appealed by Tahirih Justice Center lawyers.

Carrillo’s lawyers also submitted a request for humanitarian parole for her so she could be released and reunited with her daughter, says Tabak. But the ICE director in the Atlanta field office refused.

Tabak explains that the federal government has the discretion to release her during the appeals process; they’re simply choosing not to.

“Vilma has no criminal history, so she is not subject to mandatory detention. So under the law, Vilma is being held at the discretion of the federal government. That’s why we submitted a request for humanitarian parole. That’s why we applied for bond. Because these are decision points where the federal government, if it were doing its job properly, would evaluate the evidence and make a decision as to whether or not she should stay, and provide an individualized determination of—if they decided to hold her—why they will hold her. But in this case, we are getting no explanation as to why they are holding her. They’re just holding her.”

Carrillo’s lawyers have filed a habeas petition challenging the constitutionality of her detention.

Carrillo could be deported and her daughter could be made to stay in the U.S., basically forcing permanent family separation on both an asylum-seeking mother and an American citizen.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration adopted a new policy that says domestic violence generally can’t be used as grounds for asylum, which makes Carrillo’s case harder to appeal. She’s also in Atlanta, Georgia, which Tabak says is the worst place in the United States to be an undocumented immigrant.

“It’s known as an ‘asylum free’ zone,” Tabak says. “Across the country, any immigrant who finds themselves in court and applies for asylum has about a 43% chance of getting asylum. In Atlanta, they have a 2% chance. So this is a terrible place to be applying for asylum.”

Ironically, although the domestic violence Carrillo and her daughter fled from isn’t eligible grounds for asylum, that same violence could result in the unthinkable—a permanent separation in which Carrillo could lose custody of her daughter. The courts could potentially decide that it’s too unsafe to send Yeisvi—an American citizen—back to Guatemala, meaning she would have to stay in the U.S. in foster care.

There are many possible outcomes to this case. The state of Arizona, where Yeisvi is living, must do what’s in the best interest of the child, but there’s no way for Yeisvi to legally stay with her mother while she’s in detention. As of now, Carrillo is in jeopardy of losing her parental rights completely, solely because ICE is choosing to keep her detained.

Temporary separation following domestic violence and a harrowing journey is traumatic enough. Taking an 11-year-old’s mother away from her permanently when she’s already been through so much would be outright cruel.

Carrillo’s story is gaining national attention and prompting celebrity advocacy.

Penn Badgley, an actor and musician best known for his roles on CW’s “Gossip Girl” and the Lifetime-turned-Netflix show “You,” has taken an active role in Tahirih Justice Center’s advocacy work. He accompanied Tabak on a visit to Carrillo at the Irwin Detention Center on December 14.

“I expressly do not believe that every problem is made better by adding a celebrity,” Badgley told Upworthy in an interview. He does, however, believe we all need to use our voices to speak up for justice and to elevate the voices of those who are being harmed by our laws and policies. He says:

“There are a lot of really hard-working and intelligent people who are hitting the books to figure out, okay, where is the legal justification for this treatment of other human beings? They’re seeking asylum. It stands to be repeated, that is not a crime. If anything, they’re victims of crime before they come here. They’re seeking safety. They’re seeking refuge. These are fundamental principles this country is supposed to have been founded on…Our country claims to be a beacon of hope and light and justice in the world, and yet we have many stains on our historical record. These are deep, blood-red stains. If we want to be Americans, which ones do we want to be?”

Badgley says that instead of devolving into talking points, there are some fundamental questions that we as Americans need to be asking ourselves:

“What do these borders mean? What do they mean if they inflict criminal abuse upon people fleeing criminal abuse? If reaching our borders is bringing the same kind of harm or abuse to human beings fleeing abuse, what are we doing? What do these borders mean? What are we trying to protect? If we’re trying to protect our integrity as a nation, we actually might be doing a great job of undermining our integrity.”

Badgley has used his social media accounts to help advocate for Vilma Carrillo and her daughter, sharing a petition to tell ICE to release Carrillo and reunite her with Yeisvi.

Carrillo’s story is unique, but it highlights problematic policies and attitudes toward immigration and asylum.

Tabak says she’s seen a shift during her career in immigration and human rights law, which has resulted in some unprecedented actions on behalf of the U.S. government.

“The federal government has been trying to erect a border wall to prevent people from seeking the asylum that they are entitled to under the law,” says Tabak. “Short of getting the permission from Congress to erect a physical wall, the government is doing everything it can to erect a legal wall for clients who are trying to access protection under the law.”

Tabak also points out some of the issues that make the asylum process harder for people like Vilma Carrillo:

“The issues that we’ve seen for a long time in Georgia are the issues that are now relevant across the country. We’re seeing failures of due process, like in Vilma’s case. We’re seeing judges with pronounced and overt bias against our clients. We’re seeing disregard for expert testimony on mental health and trauma. And those are phenomena that have existed in the Atlanta courts for many many years and currently we’re seeing that spread across the country. In addition, I think that some of the choices that the current federal government has taken are simply unprecedented. The choice to separate parents from children as a deterrent, it was contemplated under previous governments, but it was never carried out. That simply is unprecedented. It is in clear violation of international law.”

Advocates for Carrillo hope to get a hearing to reunite Vilma and Yeisvi by Yeisvi’s 12th birthday on December 20. Here are ways everyone can help:

Join those calling for Vilma and Yeisvi’s reunification by signing and sharing this Change.org petition. Make a donation to support the work of Tahirih Justice Center or other non-profits that help represent immigrant families in court. And finally, use your civic voice to remind the U.S. government that asylum is a legal human right and that #familiesbelongtogether.

Given 4 months to live, he cleaned up a creek—then spent 27 years being an eco-hero.

What would you do if you only had a few months to live?

John Beal faced this daunting question we’ve all asked ourselves after suffering several heart attacks at age 29, and being told by his doctors that he had just four months to live. An incredible new storyfrom KUOW’s RadioActive Youth Media program details how the Marine Corps veteran who fought in Vietnam suffered from the physical and psychological effects of war, including PTSD. His heart attacks came just a year after a difficult return from Vietnam, where he’d served as a dogged and determined soldier known by his military brethren as “Johnny the Terror.”

How he chose to spend what he thought were his final days made him a terror in civilian life as well—at least to apathetic polluters and greedy corporations content to sacrifice the environment for profits.

Beal decided to fill his final four months with a simple, positive action—cleaning up a small creek near his home.

When Beal received his dire prognosis, he went to a wooded area near Hamm Creek, a small waterway near his home in Seattle. A tributary of the Duwamish River, Hamm Creek had been so neglected and polluted it was barely recognizable.

Beal’s daughter Liana said people had warned them as kids to not go into the river or they would get rashes. Cars, household appliances, and dead fish littered the river at low tide. Gazing at the polluted stream, Beal made a decision.

“He thought, well, I did a lot of damage in Vietnam,” Liana told KUOW, “so why not clean up where I am now before I pass?”

So Beal set out to restore the creek, figuring he would use the short remainder of his life leaving a positive mark on the planet.

Turns out, the doctors were wrong. Beal lived another 27 years and became a tireless champion of clean waterways.

As Beal soon found, cleaning up a heavily polluted creek takes much longer than a few months. Trash removal was simply the first step. Pipes had to be removed, and ongoing maintenance was needed.

“He was just like a one-man show, and everybody thought he was crazy, and he didn’t care because he loved the stream, and he wanted to see it healthy,” Liana told the Seattle P-I. “He wanted to see the salmon come back.”

Thankfully, Beal far outlived his prognosis and personally ensured that Hamm Creek fully restored. And sure enough, the salmon that had not been able to access the stream due to pollution returned in the 1980s.

But Beal’s work didn’t end there. He took on businesses that were damaging rivers and streams with bullish persistence. He became an outspoken advocate for the Duwamish watershed and founded a non-profit to protect marine life. By the time he died in 2006 at age 56, he had won more than 40 awards for his environmental stewardship.

Whether we have days or decades left, we can all take a page out of Beal’s life story and improve our world while we’re still here.

Fox News host reads texts from his liberal Mom that hilariously shame him.

You’ve got to hand it to Fox News Channel host Jesse Watters. The 40-year-old conservative commentator still knows the value of listening to his mom, even when she’s lecturing him about his misguided political views.

And regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, watching Watters read these text messages on-air to millions of viewers is pure delight.

The unabashed “Trumpet,” as his own mother calls him, read the texts as part of a seemingly ongoing series of “Mom Texts” his mother, Anne Watters, sends to the “The Five” co-host.

The first “Mom Text” he read got right to the point about Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“Manafort is a criminal,” she wrote in reference to Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

“Short and sweet, Mom,” Watters replied.

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The best recurring segment on Fox News is when Jesse Watters reads text messages from his liberal mom owning him

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But she was far from done. In addition to offering support for the special counsel, she pointed out her son’s distinct lack of qualifications on the matter, texting:

“You do not have the expertise nor the knowledge to question the special counsel’s investigation until you know what they know. Hush Jesse.”

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In reference to President Trump’s struggles to replace outgoing Chief of Staff John Kelly, Watters shared the following motherly text message advice:

“DO NOT accept an offer to be Chief of Staff.”

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On the one hand, you’ve really got to hand it to Jesse Watters for at least having the sense of humor to take a self-deprecating approach to his political views. A lack of self-awareness is something most talking heads on the left and right are guilty of. Even Waters’ Fox News employers were getting in on the fun.

But it may be his mom’s final text that sums up the challenge he and many of his cohorts face at Fox News these days.

“You end up presenting as lacking a moral compass honey,” she wrote. “We all know you are a Trumpet— you need not scream it.”

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