Life is tough and the news cycle ain’t helping anything right now. Disaster, drama, and death sell papers and get eyeballs on the page but they don’t do much for our mental health.
If you’ve felt like simply switching off from the constant barrage of updates charting the world’s lurch from one crisis to the next, we’re here to provide you with a much-needed antidote.
Good stuff happens all the time. It just doesn’t get quite the same coverage as bad stuff. That means we end up thinking that everything that’s going on in the world is terrible when it really isn’t.
Here are five of the best news stories we’ve seen this week to put a spring in your step and make the world feel just that little bit brighter.
Anonymous Stranger Pays Off Christmas Gifts in Townsville
We’ve reported on stories like this in the past, however this week we’ve seen another act of incredible anonymous kindness in Townsville.
20 customers at the Townsville Toyworld have had their lay-by purchases paid for by a female stranger who dropped into the store to help out people in need.
Natasha Vidler was one of the lucky customers and had $170 wiped off her bill, clearing the costs of giving her children presents this Christmas. Vidler said she was in “disbelief and shock” when she heard the news, according to ABC.
“I rang my husband and I was pretty much in tears, tears of happiness,” Vidler said.
“We’re forever grateful. This time of year is a bit of a struggle for everybody, not only financially but mentally, emotionally.”
“Now the kids are going have an extra-special Christmas thanks to some total lovely stranger.”
Claudette Colvin’s Criminal Record Cleared
Nine months before Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat for a white man in Montgomery, Alabama, Claudette Colvin, a 15-year-old girl also from Montgomery, did exactly the same.
While Parks’ stand sparked a new era of resistance in the civil rights movement, Colvin’s did not. However, she is not forgotten as one of the many Black people in the American south who refused to comply with the Jim Crow segregation laws.
In refusing to move, Colvin was charged with two counts of violating segregation laws and one count of assaulting a police officer, charges that have followed her throughout her life.
Now though, an Alabama court has granted her petition to expunge her record and destroy all evidence of her “crimes”.
In her motion, the now 82-year-old Colvin said that “When I think about why I’m seeking to have my name cleared by the state, it is because I believe if that happened it would show the generation growing up now that progress is possible and things do get better. It will inspire them to make the world better.”
Five Million Kids Have Been Vaccinated in the US With No Side Effects
While Australia is gearing up to roll out its vaccine program to those aged 5-11, the US has been inoculating children for the past month and a half. In that time, more than 5 million vaccine doses have been given.
The latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown that there have been no complications from the vaccines, leading CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky to state that vaccines are safe for children.
“We haven’t seen anything yet,” Walensky told ABC News.
“We have an incredibly robust vaccine safety system, and so if [problems] were there, we would find it.”
This real-life evidence gathering is great news for the rest of the world, as it appears that the new omicron variant may be more transmissible amongst young people. This new data shows that not only are vaccines safe to give to young people, but they are also going to be essential and available to them in the fight against COVID.
Queensland Men’s Shed Making Wooden Christmas Toys
Sarina and District Men’s Shed in north-central Queensland have been inundated with responses after putting a call out on social media for their range of wooden children’s Christmas toys.
The community group, which serves older men above the age of retirement, has over 1000 locations across Australia, and the Sarina and District branch has said that they’ve “never been busier” than the current period.
Having never used social media before, the group was surprised by the community interest and has set about creating handmade gifts for people from all over the local area who want something unique to give their kids for Christmas.
They have around 45 members and can make anything from wooden rocking horses to baby cradles. The group fosters a sense of community for a demographic that can become isolated and they say that their work has “probably saved about five suicides so far.”
Edinburgh Listening Benches a Hit
In the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, the UK TV show Good Morning Britain has placed one of six ‘listening’ benches in an effort to tackle loneliness in the country.
The benches, which are all placed in urban areas, have seen strong uptake in Edinburgh, with the BBC trying them out to get a feel for how they work and how necessary they are as a means of breaking barriers.
The benches are clearly marked and say “listening” in several languages across them, inviting strangers to sit down next to one another and have a chat. As the BBC reporter sat on the bench, she was approached by three different people who asked if she could listen to them and heard stories from people who were looking for new friends, busking on the street, and dealing with the hair-loss condition alopecia.
The benches sound like an incredible way to start conversations with the millions of people we share the country with and could lead to all sorts of new friendships and connections, something that is increasingly important in our isolated age. Here’s hoping someone brings the idea over to Aus soon!