When his daughter Harper was four, G Cody QJ Goldberg realized most playgrounds just aren’t accessible. Harper uses a walker, and the wood chips at the playground got stuck in the wheels before she could even reach the play equipment. Her family founded Harper’s Playground, a nonprofit “driven by the vision of a world in which no one is left out,” according to their website.
To make playgrounds radically inclusive, Goldberg recommends “three levels of inviting,” meaning the space should be physically, socially, and emotionally welcoming to all ages and abilities. Spiral walkways allow wheelchair and walker access. Slides are extra wide so a care-giver and a child can go together. Before the pandemic, workshops were offered to help others create accessible playgrounds, and in the decade since Portland, Oregon-based HP began, eight more playgrounds have been built (one as far away as Tokyo).
Launched in September 2020, Love4Live shares mindfulness resources as moral support for concert-industry workers struggling during the pandemic. In conjunction with InsightLA Meditation Center, the website offers video interviews with mindfulness experts, streaming meditation classes, and a virtual retreat led by Sharon Salzberg, Trudy Goodman, and Thomas Davis. All resources are free: Jason Garner, former CEO of Live Nation, curates and funds the page because a decade of meditation practice helped him transform his own life.
COVID-19 shone a particularly harsh spotlight on the epidemic of loneliness in long-term care facilities (LTCF). But Hita Gupta, a 15-year-old Pennsylvania resident, was already aware of the problem. In 2018, Hita started Brighten a Day a nonprofit that reaches out to seniors in homes with cards, letters, and visits to lift their spirits. Brighten a Day also reaches out to hospitalized children, and their website states that they’ve reached people in all 50 US states and beyond. Since the pandemic ruled out in-person visits, Brighten a Day has donated over 70 devices to LTCFs to enable volunteers to video call with seniors.
An International Society for Contemplative Research is in the works, thanks to a Mind & Life Institute Think Tank grant. Amishi Jha, Zindel Segal, Linda Carlson, David Vago, Harold Roth, Fadel Zeidan, and Erin McCarthy will use the grant to establish a professional society for researchers with both clinical and cognitive neuroscience and humanities backgrounds. The goal is to support collaboration among otherwise distinct groups in the field. Dr. Jha says Mind & Life has brought scientists, clinicians, educators, mindfulness practitioners, and mindfulness teachers together for the past eight years. Now, the plan for the International Society of Contemplative Research is to build a self-sustaining initiative run entirely by researchers and scholars in order to create the spaces needed for open interdisciplinary dialogue in the field.
A Million Reasons for Empathy
Ashanti Branch raised his non-profit’s goal to help people examine the masks they wear—by 900,000 masks. The 100K Masks Challenge invited you to fill out a postcard with three words that describe what you let others see, and three that describe what you keep hidden. With more than 50,000 masks already submitted, Branch says Ever Forward Club has begun a Million Mask Movement, with the ultimate goal of a world with more empathy for each other and for ourselves.
What Day Is It?
If you find yourself referring to most days as “Blursday,” the Washington Post has the newsletter for you. Titled “What Day Is It?” the seven-day email series follows audience editor Steven Johnson on his quest to fight time distortion. Johnson offers insights and practices from psychologists and researchers aimed at reconnecting us with our sense of time.
Acts of Kindness
When a rescue dog from Spain bolted out of a jet’s cargo hold in Toronto, staff at one of North America’s busiest airports worked through the night to find the panicked Podenco, suspending traffic for an hour, and using security and thermal cameras to track her down. “Boy, could she run,” worker Keith Everett told CBC News. The dog eventually laid down under his truck, and Everett joined her, gaining her trust before reuniting her with her humans.
When Kevin Ashford heard that a little leaguer in Fresno County, CA, lost her baseball cards in a wildfire that destroyed hundreds of homes, he stepped up to donate his own 25,000-card collection to nine- year-old Reese Osterberg. Ashford told NBC News that in this context, his collection is priceless.
Carlos Valdez of Weber County, Utah, always requests the same delivery man when he orders pizza— 89-year-old Derlin Newey, whose deliveries Valdez documented on TikTok. When some of Valdez’s more than 50,000 followers asked why an elderly man was still working, Valdez mobilized his community to present Newey with a check for more than $12,000.