There’s a cool new way to help kids with cancer keep calm during treatment.

Pretty much nobody likes getting their blood drawn.

Some of us are better about it than others, but when it comes to needles, it’s safe to say very few people jump at the opportunity to get stuck with one — aside from the good-hearted folks who donate.

Unfortunately, part of what cancer patients have to go through for treatment includes tons of needle-y, pokey, proddy procedures that can give even the most stoic patients pain and anxiety. And for pediatric cancer patients, it’s even worse.

Image via iStock.

Jenny Hoag, a pediatric psychologist at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, tells the story of one patient, Jamie*, whose experience demonstrates just how distressing regular procedures can be for kids with cancer and other chronic diseases:

“I had worked with him since the beginning of his treatment, and he really, really struggled,” she says. “He would get here and immediately feel nauseous and anxious and would almost always vomit, sometimes more than once, before we even did anything.”

Hoag’s job is to come up with ways to help kids conquer that discomfort and anxiety. But in Jamie’s case, he wasn’t interested.

Jamie rejected Hoag’s coping mechanisms, but once she suggested virtual reality, his curiosity won out.

Hoag brought in a virtual reality program that makes the wearer feel as though they’re underwater, being pushed along calmly while viewing colorful fish, ships, and other distracting scenes.

“Once the headset was on, he was already smiling, which I almost never saw,” Hoag says. Jamie sat through the whole 20-minute program, enjoying every moment. “He took it off and said, ‘I really want to do that again.'”

Image via Northwestern Mutual.

Using the immersive program, Hoag was able to help Jamie endure his procedures with a lot less stress, anxiety, and pain. But it didn’t stop there. Once Jamie saw that Hoag was right about the benefits of VR, he was suddenly much more willing to try her other coping suggestions.

While once he had been anxious and withdrawn, now his virtual reality experience was encouraging Jamie to branch out into actual reality too.

Now, Hoag is working with Northwestern Mutual and KindVR to study just how much virtual reality could benefit kids at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and beyond.

In her work thus far, Hoag has mainly looked to solve individual cases of anxiety instead of searching for options that could be applied to help kids all over the country. “But obviously,” she says, “having an empirically supported treatment is the best way to treat kids.”

Dr. Hoag has been letting her patients try VR informally, and is getting ready to conduct a clinical study on its benefits. Image via Northwestern Mutual.

That’s why she’s preparing to apply the solution she saw work so well with Jamie to a clinical study that could result in VR programs being implemented in children’s hospitals nationwide.

Not only could VR provide a more effective way to treat patient discomfort, it could also increase the number of children that could benefit from the hospital’s psychological intervention program. With VR, many hospital staff — not just psychologists — can help patients use the equipment.

Right now, only cases that are extreme enough merit a visit from a psychologist. But if Hoag’s research proves that VR treatment is effective, hospitals could drastically increase the amount of kids receiving anxiety treatment without having to hire more staff.

Image via iStock.

For kids enduring a chronic illness, the calming effects of VR could be life-changing.

Drawing blood might not seem traumatic, but after months of frequent treatments, it can be.

“The average adolescent is having an IV maybe never, or if anything, maybe once or twice through the course of their childhood,” Hoag says. “These patients are coming in sometimes multiple times a week and having this done. So the anticipation of knowing you have to have a needle is really stressful for kids, and by the time they even get to the hospital, they’re pretty worked up about it.”

Image via iStock.

For many, the excitement of getting to use a piece of virtual reality software can help temper those feelings of nervousness or nausea, which can improve a child’s life overall by a lot.

In the end, that’s what Hoag is hoping to do: make the lives of kids with cancer just a little bit easier.

Image via iStock.

“Going through cancer treatment is probably the hardest thing that these kids will ever do — not just as children, in adolescence, but in their entire lives,” Hoag says. That’s the motivation behind her research and the efforts that Northwestern Mutual has made to sponsor similar quality of life projects to help kids with cancer.

“If there are things that we can offer that improve their quality of life or improve their experience while undergoing cancer treatment, that’s absolutely something that we want to do.”

Image to via Northwestern Mutual.

Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and its subsidiaries. Learn more at northwesternmutual.com.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/theres-a-cool-new-way-to-help-kids-with-cancer-keep-calm-during-treatment

Get greener for summer by trying as many of these 17 challenges as you can.

By now, even your grandma knows that solar panels can save you money and a bike ride to work is a greener option than a Hummer.

If you really want to help save the planet, then you’re probably hungry for new and creative tips you can actually do to make a real difference.

While many of us may not be ready to turn your home into a zero-waste household that only does laundry once a year, most of us are looking for some pretty awesome life-hacks to do good, all while reducing clutter, saving money, and pushing our families to get a bit more creative.

Sustainability feels more important now than it’s ever been, so we’re getting you these tips with no time to waste.

Image via iStock.

We spoke with Jeff Becerra of Stop Waste, an Oakland-based public agency that makes sustainability easier for residents and businesses and came up with 17 ways you can totally nail going green:

The first five are food-based because that’s one of the largest contributors to waste in the U.S. — over 60 million tons of produce per year — and the rest … well, you’ll see.

1. Organize your refrigerator to ensure perishables get eaten first.

And feel free to use freeze-dried foods for trail snacks, flavor powders, and more. They have a longer shelf-life. If you’ve got the funds to drop a few thousand dollars on a freeze-dryer yourself, go nuts. In the meantime, this option is becoming mainstream enough to be able to pick up at your local grocery store.

2. Freeze overripe fruits and vegetables, leftover meats, and discarded bones for simple, tasty, and nutritious snacks and staples.

Think smoothies, bone and veggie stocks, and frozen veggies as healthy additions to hot meals.

3. Buy fresh ingredients in smaller quantities more often.

Image via iStock.

This way, you waste less and enjoy fresher ingredients.

“A lot of people are shocked when they learn how much food ends up in landfills every year,” says Becerra. “It’s not just the landfills and how those can affect your soil and water. It’s also the methane that organic material releases into the air as it decomposes.”

4. Shop your fridge and cupboards first to avoid buying food you already have on hand.

Also, avoid marketing gimmicks that encourage you to buy more than you need. If you get 10 items for $10 and only eat five before they spoil, that’s $5 wasted.

Image via iStock.

5. Make A Smarter List

Plan ahead for meals, not just individual items you think you’ll need. For example, will you or your family members eat out this week? How many times? What do you need to make the remaining meals, and how much of it? Be realistic. If you’re up for taking the plunge, buy food package-free.

Image via iStock.

6. Take a stand with your takeout.

Some online services like Grubhub, Seamless, or restaurant websites will give you the option to skip the plastic utensils and paper plates, or they leave room for comments or special notes where you can make that request. Also, take note of any eateries that use sustainable packaging.

Green Mountain Energy also offers unique tips on their blog that are pretty innovative.

7. Win with weatherization.

On average, homes that are 10 years or older will have duct leakage of 27% or more. That means you’re likely paying to cool your attic. Sealing your ducts and insulating your home can cut your energy bills by up to 35%.

8. Get your floors green.

We don’t mean paint them (although, feel free, it’s your domicile). Next time you’re considering getting new floors, look for products that use plant-based adhesives and are free of urea-formaldehyde (visible on the ingredient list, takes some practice to say). Sustainable options include cork, bamboo, engineered wood, or other natural materials.

9. Round up binders, scissors, highlighters, crayons and pencils that work, but aren’t needed anymore.

Then, check in with area schools to see if the supplies could be used in the classrooms.

10. Know that your old pen could become art.

The Pen Guy collects ball point pens, dry erase markers, felt tip pens, mechanical pencils and more. Then, the writing instruments are repurposed into recycled pen art.

11. Minimize idling.

It’s equally important to stay green outside of the house, too: when parked, turn off your car if you will be waiting more than 10 seconds, so you aren’t wasting fuel.

Image via iStock

12. Drive nicely.

Aggressive driving, such as speeding up and braking sharply, can burn more gas.

13. Beautify your home with rare, one-of-a-kind, repurposed, and “upcycled” decor.

Keep yourself (or your kids) occupied, teach your students an array of subjects with hands-on activities, or make it a date night: use found, salvaged, and recyclable materials, make something new and beautiful. Creative reuse doesn’t just help the environment, it engages our minds and can even help us connect and collaborate with others.

14. Don’t ditch that dress: donate it.

If you ever wonder, “Who could possibly use this?” the answer is almost always someone. Your old stuff is more valuable than you think. Clothing donations create free or low-cost options for families in need. Even our most tattered belongings can enjoy the glory of a second life as building and manufacturing materials, and more.

15. Set goals and make stepping up your recycling and composting a game.

Image via iStock.

Conscious Carnival has appeared throughout the United States at major music festivals and tours, universities and schools, local fairs and farmers markets, and professional sports events. Take a page out of Conscious Carnival’s book and turn sustainability into a challenge in your homes and workplaces. How quickly do you fill your trash can? Now consider some easy ways to fill it more slowly, and see immediate results.

16. Take a page from “Zero Waste Girl” Lauren Singer, who has filled a small cup with the amount of waste she produced in a year.

And it’s OK to just take one page. Instead of overhauling your entire life and spending it refilling mason jars and making your own soap, maybe start with her small hacks, like declining straws in your drinks and choosing email over paper receipts.

Image via iStock.

17. Track down your local drug-take-back program.  

From expired or irrelevant prescriptions to old bottles of the over-the-counter stuff, drugs in landfills can mean trouble for the environment. More cities and towns are instating this program at least once a year, so do some Googling!

Pretty painless, right? Taking on any of the above won’t just feel good, but may even be fun and keep your wallet fatter.

If you like a challenge, we dare you to check one of these items off the list for the next two weeks — but if you end up making one small lifestyle change or trying just one of these on for size this month, you’re still awesome in our eyes. Don’t forget to pass it on: After all, a digital footprint is carbon-free.

Green Mountain Energy is just one company that’s been walking the eco-friendly walk for over 20 years…get familiar with them if you want to take a stroll down greener-living lane.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/get-greener-for-summer-by-trying-as-many-of-these-17-challenges-as-you-can

She quit her job to help folks with disabilities find theirs. It’s working.

Angkie Yudistia started a business to give the 37 million people in Indonesia who have a disability a chance at the training and skills they deserve.

Image via Facebook, used with permission.

She would know about that. She herself is hard of hearing.

She was familiar with the lives of folks with disabilities a life that was, in fact, her life. But still, Thisable, an independent foundation that empowers people living with a disability to be financially independent, was going to be her first business venture ever. She even quit her job to pursue it.

And she learned a lot along the way. It wasn’t easy for Angkie to start her business, but she did it anyway. And by learning from her, we might all be one step closer to making our own firsts happen!

Here are some lessons in starting a socially conscious business from someone who knows: Angkie!

1. You’ll have to take a financial and personal risk.

That’s just how it is.

2. You may have to give up a stable job and your regular income.

Angkie was a well-paid marketing communication officer, but she knew she had to give that up to do what she dreamed of doing.

3. You might have a lack of business experience, but do your best.

Know that each mistake is a learning opportunity. Angkie says, “Being an entrepreneur is hugely rewarding, but there can be moments when things arent going perfectly and it can affect your morale.”

4. Your parents might not come around at first.

Recently featured in an article through Facebook, Angkie says her parents really got on board when they saw how their daughter had actually turned her calling into a business.

5. Take time for yourself AND be a great entrepreneur.

As Angkie told Facebook, she’ll even bring her husband and daughter to overseas meetings with her just to make sure she spends as many weekends with them as possible.

6. Have someone to support you and help you keep your life in balance.

Her husband really supports her finding balance. She said he’s “happy to pitch in around the house” which helps her keep work and life on an even keel.

7. Use social media.

It’s clear from Angkie’s Facebook page that she has many stories to tell. But her Instagram presence has helped her build her personal brand so much that it led to a publishing deal to tell the story of her personal journey from marketing executive to a budding, blossoming entrepreneur.

8. Sometimes business as usual isn’t enough. Especially if you want to change what’s usual.

Thisable Enterprise is more than just an organization that provides training to people with disabilities (though that would be plenty). To truly change the way Asia and Indonesia specifically views disability, Thisable had to get in the trenches. With Angkie at the helm, Thisable is lobbying governments and private and public companies.

9. Mentorship matters.

Thisable, and Angkie in particular, emphasize providing mentorship to participants.

10. Working together helps us all.

Angkie works with corporate social responsibility programs at various businesses in order to drum up employment opportunities for the community she has formed of people with disabilities.

11. Giving people power over their own destiny isn’t just good for the world, it’s good for the economy.

By giving the 37 million people with a disability in Indonesia a stronger start, Angkie is giving her homeland vast new natural resources people and talent. Imagine the potential of so many new, skilled, happy, and supported people.

Thisable has only just begun its mission to redefine disability. But it’s safe to say that Angkie has learned a great deal by taking the plunge and starting her own thing.

Here’s to female entrepreneurs who are making the world a better place, running a business, and proving to the world that they deserve a position of power.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/she-quit-her-job-to-help-folks-with-disabilities-find-theirs-its-working?c=tpstream