Friday, April 9, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Ecology Project International

Since more people are getting their COVID-19 vaccinations and the potential for travel is in sight, we’re using today’s Feel Good Friday to highlight travel programs for youth with Ecology Project International.

Founded in 2000 by an educator and a scientist working in Costa Rica, the mission of Ecology Project International (EPI) is “to inspire and empower the world's youth through immersive experiences with nature and science.” They do this by engaging local communities in youth development, leadership and habitat conservation and running world-class, science focused travel programs for students and teachers. You can watch the founders explain in this short video.


With a focus on conservation for the next generation, EPI’s global initiatives educate youth in communities where they have research sites including: conservation efforts in the Galapagos, scientific research in Yellowstone and protecting habitat in Belize.


EPI’s travel programs are open to middle school, high school, and college-aged students and there are also professional development programs for all teachers and non-traditional educators. Examples of these student and teacher expeditions include studying whale ecology or marine science in Mexico, learning about rainforest species, primates or sea turtles in Costa Rica and studying the island ecology of Hawaii.


Since they began, over 40,000 students have joined EPI projects in the field. And what have they done? Released 36,000 sea turtle hatchlings in Costa Rica, counted 505 yellow-headed parrots in Belize and registered 84 benthic marine species in Baja (think anemones and sea stars). You can read more details about the students’ impact here.


Programs and procedures have been adjusted to minimize the risks associated with COVID-19 and enrollments are currently open. If you’re not looking to participate in a trip but still want to support the work of EPI you can do that by making a donationshopping for clothing and gear and amplifying their message on social media. Like the EPI Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @ecologyproject. Happy trails.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Feel Good Friday - Limbitless Solutions

Nothing says Feel Good Friday like free bionic arms for kids! That’s why the focus of today’s post is the organization, Limbitless Solutions.

Founded in 2014 by students at the University of Central Florida (UCF), the mission of Limbitless Solutions is “to empower confidence and increase accessibility in the limb difference community through art-infused bionics.” They do this by creating and donating personalized, 3D-printed prosthetic arms for children.

According to this Fast Company article on Limbitless Solutions, “There are likely more than 30,000 children under the age of 16 in the U.S. with “limb difference,” the full or partial absence of a limb.” Realistic prosthetic arms can cost between $20,000 to $30,000 and won’t fit a growing child for very long. The team at Limbitless works with UCF interns focused on a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) education. They use free Autodesk software (yay!) and consult with the children to design and create unique arms that can be 3D printed. Check out this link to see some examples of their work or visit the lab with Bill Gates in this video.


The arms come with interchangeable sleeves and are very artistic. They’re also bionic! Using non-invasive electromyography (EMG) technology, children are able to control the function of the arms and make multiple gestures. They learn the mechanics of their new arms by playing video games created by Limbitless. To date, Limbitless has delivered 40 arms to 36 children who are now part of the Limbitless bionic family.


In addition to arms for children, Limbitless is expanding its mission to provide bionic limbs to adults, veterans, and first-responders. They’re also developing “a powered wheelchair attachment designed for individuals with mobility limitations, such as ALS patients or quadriplegics.” Code name, Project Xavier.


The team at Limbitless Solutions believes that the families of children with limb difference should not have to pay for the bionic arms or the occupational therapy needed to learn how to use them. That means they rely on the support of their donors. If you’d like to be one of them, you can make a donation here. You can also amplify their work on social media. Like the Limbitless Solutions Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @Limbitless3D.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Feel Good Friday - WP Theater

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, let’s spend this Feel Good Friday with women in theater!

WP Theater was founded by Julia Miles in 1978 as Women’s Project Theater. It is “the nation’s oldest and largest theater company dedicated to developing, producing, and promoting the work of women and trans theater artists at every stage of their careers.” 

One of the ways WP Theater promotes these artists is through the Lab, a two-year residency for playwrights, directors and producers. Participants are provided with entrepreneurial and leadership training, rehearsal space, a professional network and the opportunity to develop and produce their work for the stage. Each Lab residency culminates with the Pipeline Festival. This biennial festival features five new plays written, directed and produced by the residents. Over 350 artists have participated in the program and shared their finished work with the world.


More recently, Trans Lab was formed to support the creation of a critical mass of trans and gender nonconforming plays by trans and gender nonconforming writers. This year-long program provides participants with professional development sessions and culminates in a series of readings of the works developed in the lab.


To date, WP Theater has produced over 600 mainstage productions and developmental projects and their work has continued throughout the pandemic. The 2020-2021 season is taking place on the virtual stage with monthly presentations of new work. If you’re reading this before 3:30pm Pacific, you can catch a rebroadcast of Galatea, “a trans love story set against the backdrop of a climate crisis.” Next on the calendar is Weightless, a visual concept album that tells the story of two sisters and their journey to reunite. 

If you’re interested in these shows you can buy tickets here. You can also support the work of WP Theater by making a donation and spreading the word on social media. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @WPTheater. Brava!