The International Day of Happiness is upon us!
Created by a special adviser to the United Nations called Jayme Illien, the idea is to celebrate happiness in all its forms, and he chose the March equinox – the 20th – as the day.
Current affairs can be a bit of a minefield. There’s Brexit, racism, white supremacy, massacres – topics of sadness.
But there are also positive stories out there that sometimes don’t get the same intense focus.
With that in mind, here are a few stories from the past few months to make you smile today:
1. Young people are striking in record numbers to help save the environment
Over 1.4million school children took part in climate change strikes across the world.
Led by 16-tear-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, children walked out of schools on Friday I 2,233 cities and 128 towns, and further strikes are planned on 15 April.
UN Women praised Thunberg – and young people - on Twitter: “She is proof that we need to listen to the young generation for a sustainable future.”
2. A woman just won the most prestigious award in mathematics – for the first time ever
American mathematician Dr Karen Uhlenbeck became the first woman to win the Abel Prize. The accolade comes with award money to the tune of six million kroner (£531,825), and with the award, Uhlenbeck joins a very small group of women who have won a scientific prize. Of the win, she said:
I am aware of the fact that I am a role model for young women in mathematics.
It's hard to be a role model, however, because what you really need to do is show students how imperfect people can be and still succeed... I may be a wonderful mathematician and famous because of it, but I'm also very human.
3. An eight-year-old Nigerian refugee living in a homeless shelter just won New York's chess championships
An eight-year-old boy called Tanitoluwa Adewumi, who is a Nigerian refugee living in a homeless shelter, just won New York’s chess championships.
He told The New York Times: “I want to be the youngest grandmaster.”
He and his family left Nigeria in 2017 in fear of Boko Haram, and moved to the city a year ago, where the boy learned how to play chess at school.
Russell Makofsky, who oversees Manhattan's P.S. 116 chess program set up a GoFundMe page for Tanitoluwa.
"My hope is that he'll be in a home tonight," Makofsky said. People have raised over $180,000 for him and his family.
4. A dog called Max saved the life of a girl on cliff edge
A Staffordshire bull terrier saved a 14-year-old girl’s life after he noticed her sitting on the cliff’s edge.
George Conner’s dog sat next to the girl, while he called the police. He said:
The officers went over to the cliff edge and tried to get her attention but she wasn’t moving.
So, they decided to pull her through the fence and away from the edge.
It looked like she was suffering from hypothermia and the police said her eyes were rolling back into her head, it’s anyone’s guess how long she had been up there.
She was eventually taken to the hospital.
H/T The Argus
5. Trump administration is finally pulling back on detaining migrant families at the border.
The infamous family separation policy is being de-fanged. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the administration will stop detaining some migrant families who illegally cross the border in Texas, and will release hundreds of families rather than refer them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for detention.
6. This Muslim teenager won a £76,000 scholarship to study at Eton
Earlier this year a 16-year-old Hasan Patel from East London won a scholarship to study at the prestigious college, attended by the likes of Prince William and Eddie Redmayne.
“I’ll still be the same boy from East London when I arrive and when I leave,” he wrote on Twitter following his acceptance into the school. “I’m not joining the elite but simply getting an education my family would never be able to afford, paid by the college.
I’ll return to my community better armed to tackle the many injustices we face.
7. A man drove 400 miles so a stranger could visit his dying mother
In a bittersweet story of compassion, a man took a married couple to visit their dying family member after their car was broken in a crash. Ron and Sharleen Gillies were driving from Edinburgh to Cambridge when they had a minor accident.
Dean Moore saw them on the side of the road, and when he learned what was going on, volunteered to drive them.
He said: "I just did what anyone else would have done."
The mother died the next day.
Ron Gillies told the Gazette: "I just can't put into words what that lad did for us.
This happened on the Sunday and she died the next day, she died on Monday - if it hadn't been for Dean there's a fair chance we would have not got there in time.
8. And finally, Sarper Duman, who saves cats and plays the piano for them
He often rescues kittens who are ill, blind, or have been left for dead, and nurses them back to health. He has some 20 cats, many of them handicapped in some way.
Nothing more needs to be said about this.