After a stint in the U.S., molecular biologist Rana Dajani returned to Jordan and noticed children didn't read for pleasure. "It's not a habit," she says. The literacy rate is high -- everybody knows how to read and write -- but nobody was opening a book for the simple joy of it. And that's problem, says Dajani, who studied the science behind it and found a surprising connection between reading and happiness. When a parent or a caregiver reads aloud to a child, the neurons in the brain start figuring out “hey this reading stuff is very soothing.” As a result, people read books when they are happy or sad or stressed because it floods them with good feelings. Her social enterprise, We Love Reading, teaches volunteers to read aloud to children, encouraging the habit at a young age. Reading is also associated with better vocabulary and empathy, which decreases violent behavior.
Celeste Mergens was shocked when she learned that girls at a Kenya orphanage were forced to stay in their rooms and sit on cardboard when they had their periods. So she created Days for Girls, a nonprofit that provides reusable sanitary products and health education to girls and women worldwide. Mergens' organization has gotten a recent boost from Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, who has led her own campaign to destigmatize menstruation. For Mergens, the work has special significance. She herself comes from difficult circumstances, and was raped at age 7. In Africa, she was horrified to learn that girls at the orphanage were sometimes sexually abused in exchange for disposable pads. Through Days for Girls, she wants to change "the price they were paying for our silence around menstruation."
Native women face disproportionately high rates of sexual violence, domestic abuse -- even murder. The Justice Department estimates that 1 in 3 Native women will be raped. Part of the problem is that tribes are restricted in their ability to prosecute, so abusers and predators are attracted to these unprotected women. In Seattle, Norine Hill, who is a member of the Oneida Nation of the Thames, has founded Mother Nation to help women out of abusive situations and bring them culturally appropriate services so they can rediscover their strength. In this incredibly powerful podcast, we explore some of the historical injustices inflicted on Native Americans, while also sharing Hill's dramatic personal tale that led her to found Mother Nation.
The average student graduates with $37,000 in debt. Kelly Peeler of NextGenVest has developed a text-based platform to educate Generation Z on the perils of student loans, before they become saddled by a crushing amount of debt.
Jennifer Bolstad is trying to prevent Rockaway Beach in Queens, N.Y., from sinking into the Atlantic Ocean. She's a landscape architect whose firm, Local Office Landscape and Urban Design, helps coastal communities cope with rising sea levels.
Most abortion care in the U.S. is provided by independently owned clinics, not big health centers like Planned Parenthood. Amy Hagstrom Miller of Whole Woman’s Health is on a mission to make abortions safe and stigma-free. The journey has taken her to the Supreme Court.