I don't know about you, but we are in dire need of some happy news. If it isn't racism or terrorism, it's some other awful -ism polluting the feeds. So it's refreshing to stumble across a simple story of One Human doing Good Deed for Another Human.
John Goodlett had just started his first week of work at Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Oklahoma when he had to pick up Coty Vincent. The single mom of twins had car seats for her 11-month-old boys but no stroller with her.
Instead of just letting the mom "fend for herself," the 25-year-old employee was more than happy to lend a hand - literally - holding one of the twins while processing her rental.
Vincent was so impressed by the man's multitasking and charmed by his kindness, she snagged a photo of him with her baby.
"One of the most compassionate and caring people I've ever met," wrote Vincent in her Facebook post. "We need more people like John who go that extra step. Be a John. #BeAJohn"
She shared the image on a few twin mom group pages, where the post quickly racked up reactions and shares among members. The rest is viral history.
Enterprise took notice - awarding Goodlett with a gift card that he (no surprise) chose to donate to a kids' charity run by the Salvation Army. Vincent got herself a double stroller, to make travel easier.
Goodlett, who also happens to be a twin, was taken aback by the attention and the recognition he received for doing "something that should come naturally to others." It goes to show you what poor shape the world is in when minor acts of kindness prompt mass media fuss. But there you are.
"There are a lot of great Americans in this country and that's what we really need to see, because people are getting depressed and hearts are getting so heavy from everything going on right now," said Vincent.
"It's up to us to turn this around. So many have forgotten we are humans and we do kind things and we do treat with each other with respect, and smile and hold doors open and do these little things. I want to remind people they can be kind to one another."
Now, go forth and be a John.
If you think kids' parties are a small hell, magnify that tenfold for kids with special needs. The sounds, the smells, the commotion. The stimulation can be nightmarish for some children. But what if there was an alternative, a venue for kids that was fun without being loud and harsh?
What she wanted didn't exist, so mom Raquel Noriega made the change she wanted to see. She bought up a venue in which to host sensory friendly parties so that kids like her two year-old daughter Ava could enjoy herself.
“Our parties are customizable to each child’s needs and likes,” Noriega said of her Long Island venue, Pixie Dust. “Every detail is thought and talked about with the parent during the planning process to prevent any meltdowns.”
There is more to parties than pizza and cake. At Pixie Dust, even the menu is tailored since many children with special needs follow restricted diets.
Only one party is held at a time, to ensure the atmosphere remains reasonably calm. Pixie Dust has ticked all the inclusivity boxes, from specially trained staff to a sensory play experience.
“We are definitely not a cookie cutter party venue,” Noriega. “[We] are a judgment-free zone. We get it.”
In an ideal world, Pixie Dust wouldn't exist. And I mean that in the nicest possible sense. In an ideal world, we wouldn't need special venues for kids with special needs. Insofar as possible, existing venues would take the time to listen to parents and meet the needs of their clients (children). Inclusion is about being open and trying to accommodate varying needs.
While I applaud Noriega's vision, inclusion shouldn't demand its own string of specialist businesses. She is catering to a hole in the market that shouldn't even exist.
Fortunately more businesses are factoring in sensory needs and accommodations all the time. Education must continue.
First and foremost children should be exposed to kids with special needs. They should be taught that these children have special qualities, too, and with support and understanding, they can make good friends.
After all, birthday venues are only useful if you have friends to attend your party. And the majority of children with autism and other special needs are sorely lacking in this department.
Every week there is a news story about an autistic child who celebrates their birthday alone or with the help of well-meaning strangers.
As a parent, such stories tear me up. No matter how you dice it, strangers make a poor substitute for real friends who know you and value you for who you are.
Our world may never be ideal, but it could be a hell of a lot better if we work at it.
When it comes to prenatal vitamins and supplements, more is not necessarily merrier.
A review of prior research suggests that much of the money pregnant women throw at supplements is a waste of time and money.
The only two vitamins moms-to-be really need are folic acid and vitamin D. All other nutrients should naturally come from a woman's diet.
“We found no evidence to recommend that all pregnant women should take prenatal multinutrient supplements beyond the nationally advised folic acid and vitamin D supplements, generic versions of which can be purchased relatively inexpensively,” wrote the authors of a UK report recently published in the journal Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin.
In other words, all the claims about multivitamins giving babies the best possible start are little more than marketing ploys. Obviously it's critical to avoid vitamin deficiencies during pregnancy, which can lead to adverse effects like preeclampsia in women and "restricted fetal growth, skeletal deformities, low birth weight and birth defects of the brain, spine or spinal cord" in babies.
Having said that, a healthy, balanced diet goes a long way.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women consume foods from all five groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, protein foods and dairy. If a woman eats right, she should need little else in the way of supplements aside from folic acid and vitamin D.
Researchers confirmed there was little health benefit to consuming additional vitamins and minerals such as B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, E and K, iodine, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc and selenium.
The strongest evidence was in support of folic acid. Vitamin D was also recommended throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding, though physicians and researchers are divided when it comes to the optimal amount - ranging from 400 to 4,000 international units.
Vitamin D is especially important since it is not naturally found in many foods other than fish and milk, with a glass of milk averaging 100 international units of vitamin D. It is therefore is difficult to consume an adequate dose through diet alone.
There you have it.