His students were getting killed. So, Principal Cook took action and created a safe space for them.

When Akbar Cook arrived at West Side High School in Newark, he knew something needed to change. Principal Cook saw that the high schoolers he served faced serious challenges in their community, including gang violence and drugs. After his first summer with the school—during which two students were killed—Cook decided to take action. He approached the school’s Alumni Association to brainstorm ideas for giving students more structured activities to keep them off the streets. With the help of volunteers and fundraisers, they launched the Lights On program in the summer of 2016. Now in its fourth year, the program has proven to be a resounding success. The high school offers students a safe space with fun activities every Friday night …

To help her gay son, this amazing mom carried and gave birth to her own granddaughter.

Like many gay couples, Matthew Eledge and his husband Elliot Dougherty desperately wanted to have their own children. But being in a same-sex relationship called for them to be a little more creative in how they achieved that dream. At 59 years old, Matthew’s mother, Cecile Eledge, was supportive and excited to be a grandma. So excited — that she offered to serve as the surrogate and carry her own grandchild. While it began as sort of a family joke, eventually the idea grew into something inexplicably wonderful. Eledge and Dougherty’s daughter Uma Louise. “It just seemed like a really beautiful sentiment on her part,” Elliott told the BBC. “She’s such a selfless woman.” However, the fertility specialist, Dr. Carolyn …

An Ohio mosque opened a free medical clinic for people who can’t afford healthcare.

A northeast Ohio mosque has opened a medical clinic that is is free and open to all who can’t afford healthcare. For millions of Americans who live without health insurance, going to the doctor is a big deal. With soaring healthcare costs in the U.S., many people simply forgo getting the medical help they need because they can’t afford it—a reality that makes us unique among the world’s developed nations. That reality is what compelled the Islamic Center of Cleveland to transform some of its storage space into a free medical clinic. No fees. No copays. No insurance requests. The Cleveland Ibn Sina Clinic is open on weekends and free to people of all religions and backgrounds. The only thing …

This new hashtag challenge has inspired hundreds of people to clean up their local parks and beaches.

When hashtag social media challenges go viral, they’re usually bad news. The Tide pod challenge, cinnamon challenge, and that one where people stuck condoms on their heads were all pretty bad ideas. But over the weekend, #Trashtag went viral, inspiring young people all over the world to buy a box of garbage bags and post photos of themselves cleaning up their local parks, beaches, and wilderness areas. It’s believed that the trend started on March 5 when Facebook user Byron Román shared a photo of himself issuing a challenge to “bored teens” asking them to “Take a photo of an area that needs some cleaning or maintenance, then take a photo after you have done something about it, and post …

The moving way these women got their parents to meet them halfway on marriage.

What do you do when your family expects you to get married but you just aren’t ready? Women around the world continue to face this question as gender roles and expectations morph from generation to generation. In China, marriage expectation runs deep, which in turn often creates a divide between millennials and their parents. According to their parents, women are supposed to find a husband while they are young.  Meanwhile, the independence and ambition of modern young women are often criticized rather than praised. All photos via SK-II. But the world is changing fast. Many young Chinese women either aren’t ready for marriage or don’t feel the need to conform to the cultural expectations attached to it.  Marriage rates in …