Marty

Marty

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A Story of Determination and A Boy’s Dream Come True

When Aiden, who has type-1 diabetes, was 8 years old, he heard about service dogs who can monitor glucose levels.  Incredibly, these dogs can sense low glucose levels 30 minutes before a blood meter can pick this up.  These dogs cost $15,000, but Aiden wasn’t deterred and started saving one penny at a time.  After four years he had put away $6000 in coins.  Then a local news station picked up on his goal and unwavering determination.  The story went nationwide and donations poured in to make up the remaining $9000.

 A chocolate Labrador named Angel has been trained for the past year and recently passed all her tests, while Aiden followed Angel’s progress with videos and pictures.  Angel flew in on SouthWest, and “Aiden is over the moon,” said his mother.  “He was on pins and needles waiting for her.”  She said that Angel will give her peace of mind, particularly at night, when it comes to testing Aiden’s sugar levels.  Angel’s presence also gives Aiden a new sense of independence.

 

Good News Counts,

 

Marty

  • Published in Health

Dr Jeff Bulington Teaches Chess To Elementary Children in Mississippi

Franklin County in a remote corner of Mississippi has two stoplights, one elementary school, and long ago lost its only train stop.  Could kids learn chess here?  Would they even want to?  Dr. Jeff Bulington took on the challenge, accepted a contract from an anonymous benefactor, left his home city of Memphis, and moved to Franklin.  Predictions were that Bulington could perhaps find a dozen interested kids.  He found hundreds!

Bobby Poole, Bulington’s assistant chess coach, put it: “All the statistics, everything you look at, Mississippi is the poorest.  It’s the dumbest.  It’s the fattest.  We know that the rest of the nation has that conception of us....  People said that country kids couldn’t learn chess.  We showed ‘em different....  We teach history.  We teach geography.  We teach science.  We teach math.  We teach it all using the chess board….”

Last spring Bulington’s team of mostly elementary school kids from Franklin County faced off against much older high school players at the Mississippi state championships, and they held their own!  Braden, one of the Franklin kids, put it: “They were basically, like, trying to say we were a joke cause we were kids.  But after the game, we usually beat ‘em and they were like very shocked.”

Then, a year-and-a-half after Jeff Bulington first showed up to introduce chess to a small county in Mississippi, 33 of Franklin County’s chess wonders and their parents traveled to the national school championships.  They faced more than 1,500 players from 644 schools, many from wealthy suburban school districts.  The surprising result: Franklin’s fifth graders came in 8th among all the fifth grades and their sixth graders came in 10th among all the sixth grades.  As one Franklin parent put it: “What happened is a bunch of hillbillies beat the snot out of a bunch of really highly educated, sophisticated people.  So that’s what happened…”

 Chess has helped the Franklin kids see there’s more to themselves than they’ve seen before:

 Parker: “Chess is, like, something that like I’m like really good at for once.”

 Donovan: “All my grades used to be like low, medium low Bs.  Now, they’re A’s and high B’s.”

 Rebekah: “I feel like chess could take us anywhere.  But it’s not about where it takes us, it’s about how far it takes us.”

 The year before chess arrived, seven of the 93 graduates from Franklin County High School went on to a four-year college, but every chess player at Franklin says he or she plans to attend college some day.

 It’s often said that to teach is to touch a life forever.   Through chess, these Franklin children’s lives have been forever changed with hope and a brighter future.  The cost of such a chess program is minuscule compared to almost all other educational programs.  Hopefully other school districts, especially less advantaged districts, can take notice.

 

Good News Counts,

 

Marty

People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH), Bring Together Community Residents

We all need to recognize that our well-being is inextricably tied to that of other people and the planet itself.  There are no throwaway people and no throwaway places.  When communities are fully engaged in problem-solving, they can come up with holistic solutions that lift up the voices of the marginalized and regenerate forgotten places.  Buffalo NY is a wonderful example of what can be achieved.

 

By 2005 Buffalo had lost half of its 1950 population, and its  residents were struggling with unemployment, rampant blight, and high energy costs.  A grass roots community group, People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH), brought together community residents to craft a plan for a large, blighted area. The outcome was a 25-square-block Green Development Zone (GDZ), which is now a model of energy-efficient, affordable housing. PUSH is the organizing force behind rehabilitating homes in the GDZ, installing efficiency upgrades, like insulation and geothermal heating, and dramatically lowering residents’ utility bills.  This is also a jobs program as PUSH has cultivated a growing network of contractors who are committed to hiring locally.

 

Taking a step further, in other parts of the city PUSH has gone on to turn trash-strewn, vacant lots into state-of-the-art rain gardens, small urban farms, and aquaponics greenhouses.  Even more ambitiously PUSH is advocating for the “Green Jobs-Green New York” program, which seeks to create 35,000 jobs while providing energy upgrades and retrofits for 1 million homes across the state.

 

How about all you other community organizers across the country taking inspiration from Buffalo!

 

Good News Counts

 

Marty

Pins to Represent Solidarity in England

A campaign has been launched in England for people to wear safety pins to show that they are “safe” allies to immigrants or anyone else facing hatred, racism, and bigotry.  Hate crimes have dramatically increased in Britain as well as in the U.S., and here is one small way for people to stand up for kindness, respect, and good will.  It is a signal that shows people facing hate crimes that they’re not alone, that there are people willing to stand up for them and be there for them.

 

Britons are being urged to wear safety pins in public so that any potential victims of racist abuse can turn to them for help or support in the street.  The pin announces that you are a safe person to sit next to on a bus, walk next to on a street, even have a conversation with.  Thousands have shared photos of themselves and their families wearing safety pins in solidarity with those being victimized in their community.

 

How about such a campaign in American communities!

 

Good News Counts,

 

Marty

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