According to Chalkbeat.org, Voncile Campbell, a math teacher at Bow Elementary-Middle School in Detroit, MI transforms into a new fantasy character on the regular. A little boy hunting for treasure with pirates. An owl playing with a fox. A teddy bear king who can’t fall asleep.
Ever since Campbell’s school shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, she’s created a new role for herself as a bedtime storyteller.
By posting videos on the school’s Facebook page at 8 p.m. nightly, Campbell is staying connected to her students and letting them know they’re still with her in spirit during the closure.
“I thought about how we have a low return of homework and students who say that there’s nobody reading to them at home,” she said. “And I really just wanted to do something to connect with my students by reading to them at night because I wanted to show them that I personally am still thinking about them.”
The novel coronavirus pandemic has disrupted students’ routines. They’re disconnected from the classmates and teachers they’re accustomed to seeing every day. For Campbell, telling bedtime stories creates stability and calm during a time of uncertainty.
She begins every video with the same phrase: “Good evening, scholars and friends. It’s time for tonight’s bedtime story.” She recites each line softly and calmly, modifying her vocal level as she embodies each character.
Campbell’s videos are quickly gaining popularity through word of mouth. They’ve collected thousands of views and been shared multiple times in the last week. She’s received a lot of positive feedback and continues to refine her approach by adding colorful images from the storybooks. A picture from the story pops up on the screen while she reads. She also started dividing the stories into episodes, asking students to email her predictions on what will happen next.
According to NBCSports.com, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and singer Ciara have pledged 1 million meals to Food Lifeline and Feeding America in an effort to help keep Americans in need fed in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
To quote the article:
“Obviously this worldwide pandemic, coronavirus, is changing the world, second-by-second, minute-by minute. People are losing loved ones, the elderly and the young, people in between. … So what we’ve decided to do is partner with our local food bank in Seattle, Seattle Food Lifeline, and we’re going to donate a million meals and hopefully make a difference,” Wilson said in a video message.
Wilson and Ciara mentioned people losing jobs in the wake of increasing shut down initiatives in an effort to keep the spread of the virus from proliferating an exponential rates. They’ve already seen friends in the area that work for companies such as Alaska Airlines, the Seattle Sounders – where the pair are part owners – and Seattle Children’s Hospital hit with the effects of the virus.
“We want to encourage every out there to join us in whatever way that you can, big or small,” Ciara said. “Everything makes a difference. Everything that we do together makes a difference and together we will conquer this tough time that we’re going through.”
The Feeding America network of food banks “distributes 4.3 billion meals each year through food pantries and meal programs throughout the United States and leads the nation to engage in the fight against hunger.”
On a day when so many family members, friends and loved ones come together to celebrate, GBN wishes you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, a blessed and bountiful Kwanzaa and Hopeful Holidays all around.
As we give to each other, let us always strive to remember what a gift we have in life, and to cherish that spirit always for ourselves as well as others all year long.
New York author and creator of the #BlackPantherChallenge, Frederick Joseph, launches the #SantaClausChallenge after learning the Operation Cover Chicago 2019 toy drive was short 9,000 toys. With only four days until the toy drive, Joseph called on others to join the challenge by donating or buying a gift for kids in Chicago.
Another Chance Church, launched Operation Cover Chicago 2019 with the aim to make it a Christmas to remember for 10,000 families who otherwise couldn’t afford to buy toys. Statistics show that the Chicagoland community is comprised of 9% of students who are homeless and 45% of adults who are unemployed or under-employed.
Frederick Joseph kicked off the #SantaClausChallenge with a $500 donation to their GoFundMe, which aims to raise $35,000 to purchase toys for children ages three to 15. Inspired by his generosity, GoFundMe made a donation of $5,000. “All children deserve to feel like they matter, especially during the Holidays,” said Frederick Joseph. “This is an opportunity to show them that the community cares and is standing behind all families. I’m calling on others to take action and donate to help more kids experience the joy of Christmas.”
As of December 17th, the challenge met its goal by raising $35,000 to service 10,000 families.
Joseph successfully created the #BlackPantherChallenge, an international movement that raised over $950,000 to send over 73,000 children to see the Black Panther film for free in 2018. He’s been rallying behind community based GoFundMes ever since, having raised over $1.25 million to date for good causes.
Operation Cover Chicago 2019 will be giving away the toys to 10,000 families on December 20, 2019 at 9550 S. Harvard Chicago IL, 60628 at 7pm. To make a donation, visit:
According to wthr.com, after having trouble finding a Santa Claus her sons could relate to, Dallas psychiatrist Jihan Woods decided to make sure others wouldn’t encounter the same problem.
In 2018, she created a Kickstarter campaign raising some $5,000 in 30 days. The result was a very special app called “Find Black Santa.”
“After several years of trying to find a Santa that was relatable – that my children could identify with, I realized that kind of all over the U.S., but specifically in Dallas, I wasn’t able to find a Santa that represented our family,” Woods explained.
The app lists Santas in 35 states and Washington, D.C. – from Oregon, to one in the Mall of America, and as far south as Florida. She’s even located them in London, Canada, and Amsterdam.
Since creating the app, organizations have reached out to Woods to tell her about their black Santas. And black Santas have asked her to list them for events.
NFL star Khalil Mack delivered holiday cheer for several customers at a Walmart in his Florida hometown over the weekend, according to KNX NewsRadio. The Chicago Bears linebacker reportedly paid off $80,000 worth of layaway accounts, leaving many families with less to worry about.
To quote the article:
The four-time Pro-Bowler took care of the debts at a Walmart in Fort Pierce through the Khalil Mack Foundation, which focuses on impacting lives of “inter-city and under-privileged youth and families.” The store announced the donation in a Facebook post and thanked him for the act of kindness.
“We have some wonderful News! If you have an active Holiday Layaway account at your local Ft. Pierce Wal-Mart, you account has been paid off!” the Walmart wrote. “We here at Walmart would like to thank the Khalil Mack Foundation for your generosity, and for making so many families happy for the holidays!”
Mack covered more than 300 accounts, which cost about $80,000 total, according to the Chicago Tribune. “His foundation came to us and said he wanted to be a secret Santa,” store manager Mathias Libardi told TCPalm.com.
Mack is known for giving back to his hometown. In June, he donated 100 pairs of cleats to the Fort Pierce Westwood football team.
According to the Associated Press, hip hop artist and philanthropist Chance the Rapper has announced he’s donating $1 million to help improve mental health services in Chicago.
Chance, a Chicago native, made the announcement Thursday during a summit for his nonprofit organization SocialWorks, saying those involved “want to change the way that mental health resources are being accessed.”
The U.S. is one of 13 countries in the world where maternal mortality rates are worse than they were two decades ago. And that alarming statistic hits one group of women the hardest.
For women of color, pregnancy and childbirth are often a matter of life and death. The risk of death from pregnancy-related causes for black women is three to four times higher than for women of other races. It’s something California Senator Kamala Harris has been vocal about in the past. And she’s pushing to make sure this maternal mortality crisis is being recognized and rectified through new legislation, as well.
Harris (along with 13 Democratic colleagues) introduced a bill Wednesday that she hopes will help lessen the discrepancies in treatment. The Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies (CARE) Actwould create two grant programs. One will address implicit bias based on stereotypes by supporting special training programs in medical, nursing, and other training schools. The other will incentivize maternal health care providers to offer integrated health care services to pregnant women and new mothers and reduce adverse maternal health outcomes, maternal deaths, and racial health disparities.
“Health equity for Black women can only happen if we recognize and address persistent biases in our health system,” Harris said in a press release.
The maternal health of black women has long been suffered in the dark, but in recent months we’ve heard harrowing stories of pregnancy and childbirth complications from two of the most famous women in the world: Serena Williams and Beyoncé.
Williams has been incredibly open about her emergency C-section, followed by blood clots in her lungs that threatened her life and required further surgery. And the intensely private Beyoncé revealed in Vogue‘s September issue that she had been on bed rest prior to the birth of twins Rumi and Sir due to toxemia (or preeclampsia) which causes swelling and hypertension. She, too, required an emergency C-section as her life, and the lives of her twins, were at risk.
According to the CDC, the cause of an increase of pregnancy-related mortalities in America is unclear. For women of color, who face a myriad of health care disparities from access to racial bias perpetuated by stereotypes, the combination has proved life-threatening. Racism, researchers say, is at the center of this crisis.
“For example, even when we take medical history into account, black women are two to three times more like to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women with the same condition. And while maternal mortality rates are certainly greater for poor women than wealthier women, poverty alone can’t explain these disparities either. An analysis of maternal deaths in New York City found that black women who had at least a college degree still had greater mortality rates than white women who had not graduated high school,” obstetrician and gynecologist Jamila Perritt wrote for Glamour after Williams came forward with her childbirth experience.
“The bottom line is, black women are dying wholly preventable deaths.”
The Los Angeles Times notes that Sen. Harris’ bill could face an “uphill battle” given that Republicans currently control Congress and few bills may pass in an election year. Other sponsors of the bill include U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Doug Jones (D-AL), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Tom Carper (D-DE), Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
“This bill is a step towards ensuring that all women have access to culturally competent, holistic care, and to address the implicit biases in our system,” Harris said.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Applications are being accepted now through Oct. 31, 2018, for the Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence magazine. This annual outside-the-classroom mentoring program is scheduled for March 21-24, 2019, at the Walt Disney Resort in Florida.
The program helps 100 select high school students, ages 13-19, from across the United States jump-start their life goals and pursue their dreams. Disney Dreamers Academy turns the entire magical setting of Walt Disney World into a vibrant classroom.
Students participate in a series of sessions and workshops designed to help them imagine bright futures, make exciting discoveries and learn how to put their goals into action. Disney Dreamers engage in a wide variety of experiences at Walt Disney World while working side by side with celebrities, community and industry leaders and Disney cast members.
Each year, students participate in hands-on, immersive career seminars in a wide range of disciplines found at Walt Disney World. Participants learn how to improve their communication skills, what it means to be a leader and networking strategies, among other skills. They are also inspired by celebrity speakers and other special guests who share their stories and provide insights on how to achieve their life goals.
The second decade of Disney Dreamers Academy is focused on challenging young people to relentlessly pursue their dreams through the “Be 100” campaign. This promotional push is inspired by the powerful impact Disney Dreamers Academy has made on graduates, who have gone on to become doctors, nurses, engineers, pilots, journalists and more. Some have started their own public relations firms, while others have worked with national political leaders.
Applicants must answer essay questions about their personal journeys and dreams for the future. Studentsare selected based on a combination of attributes, including strong character, positive attitude and determination to achieve their dreams. A parent or guardian accompanies each student on the trip.
This four-day, all-expenses-paid experience at Walt Disney World will continue to help change the lives of young people in 2019.
Children in the U.S. are often introduced to America’s troubled and cruel history through movies, television programs, and children’s books. Historical fiction is frequently the means by which children learn about atrocities such as the enslavement of African Americans, racial segregation, Japanese-American internment, and the genocide of Native Americans.
Discourse about these topics in children’s literature can be difficult in light of the books’ overall function to inspire, transmit values, and spark young minds. But an omission or inaccurate portrayal of the crimes and suffering can do lasting societal damage to readers and how they see the world.
Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, an associate professor in the Graduate School of Education, has for the past decade been exploring representations of slavery in children’s literature. Over the last six years, she and her research team have compiled a database of 160 children’s books covering slavery that were published between 1970 and 2015—almost half of all the children’s books on slavery published in the 35-year period, many of which are no longer in print.
An expert on children’s literature and the teaching of African-American literature, history, and culture in K-12 classrooms, Thomas says parents, teachers, and educators must consider questions of readership, ethnicity, class, gender, story, background, intended audience, and difficulty when selecting books for their students.
Thomas supports the criteria put forth by scholar Rudine Sims Bishop that children’s literature about slavery should, in part, celebrate the strengths of the black family as a cultural institution and vehicle for survival, and bear witness to African Americans’ determined struggle for freedom, equality, and dignity.
“I recommend this book. What you’re getting here is 11 slaves’ lives and dreams that are being brought to life by this author,” she says. “[Bryan] is representing their complexity in the illustrations, his writing of the poetry. I highly recommend this because it balances humanizing enslaved African Americans, but he’s also showing the complexity of their lives.”
Additionally, she is working on a book about slavery in children’s literature tentatively titled “Reading Racial History,” and she serves on the advisory board of Teaching Tolerance’s Teaching Hard History project.
Thomas says children’s literature is a prime site for social reproduction, and an unexamined site of social progress, regress, and/or transformation.
“If you have children’s media that’s regressive, and the children of today are going to be the adults of the mid-to-late 21st century, if we don’t change the children’s media that they’re being fed by, just like we still remember and talk about ‘Peter Pan,’ ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ and other fictions of the long-ago Victorian and Edwardian eras, they’re going to still be influenced by these current writings—from ‘Harry Potter’ to problematic books about slavery—deep into the 22nd century.”