Entertainment

Reminder: McConnell overcame polio as a kid with big help from the government.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images. Long before Mitch McConnell was attempting to dismantle the Affordable Care Act as majority leader of the U.S. Senate, he was fighting for his health as a small child growing up in Alabama — with help from the federal government.When he was just 2 years old, McConnell was diagnosed with polio, Death and Taxes reported. As McConnell explained to his Senate colleagues in 2005, his mother had been “perplexed about what to do”; his father was serving overseas in World War II at the time, and — as these were the days before Medicaid or Medicare — health care options were limited. McConnell’s mother worried her son might become disabled.McConnell was fortunate to live a short drive away from Warm Springs, Georgia, where a polio rehab center had been established by President Roosevelt.It was funded, in large part, through public efforts. A child in bed recovering from polio in 1950. Photo by Douglas Grundy/Three Lions/Getty Images. In the mid-1930s, roughly a decade before McConnell started receiving treatments at the center, Roosevelt’s March of Dimes fundraising strategy for the center grew into a remarkable success. The president had asked Americans to send dimes to the White House in support of children living with polio, and within just one month, $268,000 (about $4.6 million today) had been raised. Kids like McConnell benefited greatly.“We had left Warm Springs for the last time, and the physical therapist there had told my mother, ‘Your son can walk now,'” an emotional McConnell told the Senate in 2005. “‘We think he’s going to have a normal childhood and a normal life.'”McConnell’s health scare from seven decades ago —concerning a disease that’s now eradicated in the U.S., no less — is incredibly relevant today. Children who are in similar circumstances as McConnell once was — kids living with costly, threatening health ailments, whose family situations complicate their access to care — could be harmed greatly should the Re

Entertainment

This Target ad totally nails what it means to be an athlete. And yeah, it's a big deal.

An athlete is anyone who moves their body for the fun and thrill of moving it, regardless of size or ability. Target’s latest ad gets that in a major way. The latest campaign for the company’s activewear line, C9 Champion, showcases badass athletes kicking butt at any age and size and in any activity or discipline. These are real people with real bodies we need to see more of. There’s a black man doing yoga on a football field. And why shouldn’t there be? Go ‘head on, brother. All GIFs via Target/YouTube. A young kid shreds on a skateboard, having the time of their life. See you in the X Games, kiddo!A woman with a disability zips up a rope, making a hard feat look effortless. You’re killing it! And teen ballerina Lizzy Howell even makes an appearance, doing dazzling pirouettes. Rock it, girl!These athletes aren’t the exceptions; they’re the rule. No matter your size, shape, ability, or activity, there is no wrong way to be an athlete. It doesn’t matter what your middle-school P.E. teacher said or what runs through your head while you’re at the gym. You may not get paid for what you do or even be especially good at it. But if it makes your heart happy and keeps you moving, congratulations, you’re an athlete. Seeing people of different abilities, body types, sizes, backgrounds and ages celebrate their bodies and strength is empowering and affirming. Actor Riz Ahmed said it perfectly in his lecture on diversity and representation at British Parliament: “Every time you see yourself in a magazine, on a billboard, TV, film — it’s a message that you matter, you’re part of the national story, that you’re valued. You feel represented.”Real representation and visibility connect us to people who aren’t like us and challenge our expectations of what different bodies can do. Some people may not think of black men as graceful or lithe or even recognize that plus-size ballerinas exist, let alone shine. Target’s ad is proof that even 40 seconds of representation can change mind

Entertainment

Girl Scouts will now earn badges in cybersecurity and it's totally awesome.

What’s next for the Girl Scouts? Oh, you know, defeating hackers. No biggie. Five fearless girls in New York City this March. Photo from Drew Angerer/Getty Images. The 105-year-old, 1.8 million-scout-strong organization announced that, in addition to badges for public speaking, first aid, mechanics (and, yes, selling cookies), young scouts can now expect to earn laurels for cybersecurity as well.The announcement is part of a team-up between the Girl Scouts and cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks. Led by an expert panel, the groups will be rolling out the first in a series of 18 different badges in September 2018. “It is our hope that our collaboration will serve to cultivate our troops’ budding interest in cybersecurity,” said Girl Scouts CEO Sylvia Acevedo in a press release.The Girl Scouts say the exact curriculum’s still being decided, but the topics would build on each other and could touch on areas such as protecting privacy, combating cyberbullying, and more high-level skills like data manipulation.Today’s girls are growing up in a world where cyber smarts are just as important as street smarts.Smartphones, smart watches, smart televisions — heck, we even have smart clothes! “Activate jet pack… ACTIVATE JET PACK! God, these things.” Photo from Michele Tantussi/Getty Images. Combine that with social media and it’s astounding how much information each of us is uploading every single day. Knowing how to keep your information safe is becoming a necessary life skill.This is also about showing the girls how to take cybersecurity by the horns and make it work for them.Women are seriously underrepresented in many STEM industries, including cybersecurity. One report found they made up just 11% of cybersecurity jobs. But we’re going to need them. Forbes wrote that in 2016 there were over 200,000 unfilled cybersecurity roles in the United States, and there seems to be no end to the recent data leaks and security concerns.One possible reason for this gender gap,

Entertainment

They tested a seat so people with disabilities could ride a camel. Here's how it went.

On edge of the Sahara Dunes, a few miles outside of the Moroccan town of Merzouga, a camel named Omalise seems to suspect something is up. On her back is a bulky contraption — a tall fabric seat held in place by metal piping and tied down with a tangle of unfamiliar straps. Image by Eric March via Moroccan Accessibility Travel. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s not her usual saddle, and it’s definitely not heavy enough to be a rider. Unclear what the attentive crowd of rapidly chattering humans around her wants her to do, she tries to stand up.Within milliseconds, three trainers hustle over to coax the confused camel back to the ground.”Of course, right now, the camel is a bit uncomfortable with the situation, but she’ll get used to it,” says Mbark, Omalise’s handler, through a translator. Mbark has lived semi-nomadically around the pack animals his entire life. For the past 12 years, he’s worked in the country’s booming tourism industry, facilitating camel excursions for visitors who want an up-close-and-personal introduction to the desert.Today, he’s spending his evening preparing his impatient camel to give tourists with disabilities the opportunity to experience the type of Hollywood epic-worthy trek through the desert sands they imagine when they dream of his home country.Riding a camel has long been out of reach for travelers who lack full mobility, but Moroccan Accessibility Travel (MAT) hopes to change that with the advent of a custom saddle that mimics the action of a wheelchair on the animal’s back. The seat is the brainchild of Erik Neufeld and Jeremy Schmidt, who purchased the tour company in 2016 with the goal of providing their disabled clients access to the country’s full range of historic sites, restaurants, markets, and natural attractions.Getting a client onto a camel and over the dunes (a “classic Morocco” experience, according to the pair) is a problem that has perplexed them from day one — and one they believe they’re finally getting close to solving.

Entertainment

Watch an eye-opening video that spells out why Hollywood needs trans actors.

Hollywood has a problem on its hands.In the video above, produced by ScreenCrush in partnership with GLAAD, several transgender actors dive into how the entertainment industry is failing to fairly represent an already marginalized group. Those flaws, as ScreenCrush senior editor Erin Oliver Whitney says, end up hurting trans people offscreen too.”I didn’t grow up watching many positive or accurate depictions of trans or gender nonconforming people on screen,” says Whitney, who is nonbinary and transgender, and helped produce the video. “And the roles I did see certainly weren’t played by trans folks.” Actor Alexandra Grey (“Drunk History,” “Transparent”). GIF via ScreenCrush. That, in a nutshell, is the big problem.Here are three vital takeaways from the video, “Why Hollywood Needs Trans Actors,” which is part of ScreenCrush’s Our Hollywood series:1. There are very few transgender characters in TV and film — and even fewer that depict trans folks as real people.As the video points out, citing a GLAAD report, there was just one major Hollywood film that featured a transgender character in 2015 — and that character was the butt of a joke. That wouldn’t be such an alarming statistic if most Americans knew several trans people in their own lives and, as a result, understood that transgender people are as complex and relatable as anyone else. But that’s not the case. Laverne Cox, who stars in CBS’ “Doubt” and Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black,” is one of the very few prominent Hollywood actors who are trans. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images. Just 16% of Americans report knowing someone who is transgender personally, which means the vast majority have perceptions of transgender people largely based off what they see in the media. When the very few trans characters on TV and in films consistently fall into harmful stereotypes — like, that trans people are all mentally unstable — what picture does that paint to audiences? And, even more consequential, what kind of