Inspiration Report

32353643692_74f8f4d210_zBarbie has been an astronaut, explorer, athlete and Madam President for years. Now, this classic doll is going to be modeled after real-life women. Mattel’s new line is called “Inspiring Women” and will be filled with Barbie dolls that resemble female role models such as Amelia Earhart and Katherine Johnson. These dolls will be sold in toy stores, but Mattel does not have a precise date for when these inspiring dolls will hit the shelves.

Mattel sees the creation of these dolls as a natural extension of the brand that has had Barbie in dozens of male dominated careers from NASA to politics. “As a brand that inspires the limitless potential in girls, Barbie will be honoring its largest line up of role models timed to International Women’s Day, because we know that you can’t be what you can’t see,” said Lisa McKnight, the senior vice president and general manager of Barbie. “Girls have always been able to play out different roles and careers with Barbie and we are thrilled to shine a light on real life role models to remind them that they can be anything.”

The new “Inspiring Women” line currently includes Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo and Katherine Johnson. Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, Kahlo was known for her unique painting style and feminist activism and Johnson shattered barriers through her work at NASA. Johnson was one of the black women who worked at NASA and calculated dozens of trajectories including the flight of the famous Apollo 11 moon landing. Johnson worked closely with Mattel to ensure that her Barbie resembled her as closely as possible.

Barbie has a second line based on real women as well. The “Shero” line honors 14 modern women who recently broke boundaries in their fields. The current line-up includes “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins, Australian wildlife conservationist Bindi Irwin, Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim, ballerina Misty Copeland, Olympic gold-medalist Gabby Douglas, Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams, Polish journalist Martyna Wojciechowska and Chinese ballerina Yuan Yuan Tan. Unfortunately, the “Shero” line is not set to be mass-produced or sold in stores, unlike the “Inspiring Women” line. The more popular dolls from the “Shero” line, however, have made it to toy stores in the past.

The “Inspiring Women” line has received some criticism for not giving dolls based on real people realistic proportions. Proponents of the dolls have responded that the dolls are mass produced and made to be sold in toy stores. By giving them the typically exaggerated proportions of most Barbie dolls, the “Inspiring Women” dolls will be able to wear normal Barbie clothes and thus have a greater reach. They will be played with by young girls looking for role models instead of sitting on an adult collector’s shelf.

The “Inspiring Women” line was announced just in time for International Women’s Day and has already garnered a lot of attention. The dolls will come with educational information about the woman they represent and hopefully let Barbie continue to inspire girls everywhere to follow their dreams.

4208306580_118659686e_bThe Olympics are always exciting, but little is more exhilarating than a dramatic upset especially in a sport that is normally dominated by one or two nations. Yet, that is exactly what happened in Olympic curling last week. In the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, John Shuster’s teams finished last and second to last in the Games. He was ridiculed on social media, and his name was made an Urban Dictionary verb for failure.

The joke, however, is on Shuster’s haters. The 2018 U.S. team was consistently on the edge of being eliminated from the tournament, but they managed to defeat the Canadians on Thursday. Canada has taken home the gold in each of the last three winter Olympics, while no U.S. team had ever done better than the bronze. In the eighth of ten ends, however, the U.S. took the lead. The Americans’ eventual two point victory over Canada, however, guaranteed that the Americans would have a record breaking Olympics. At worst, they would take the silver.

The gold medal match was between the U.S. “rejects” and the team from Sweden who defeated the Swiss by six points. The gold medal match was a long back-and-forth game that slowly ramped up the intensity and pressure on all the players. Late in the game, however, the Americans again took control of the game. They used a blockbuster eighth end to seize a five point advantage that Sweden never managed to overcome. The final score was 10 to seven in the U.S.’s favor.

Each end had its own drama, including one end that was so close a special device had to be brought out to measure which stone was closest and thus which team got the point. “We play a game that comes down to millimeters,” Canadian curler, Marc Kennedy commented. “It’s a really…hard game at this level.”

The U.S. team was ecstatic to win the gold especially after starting the tournament well behind the nations who were predicted to win medals. “We’ve played our best when our backs were up against the wall,” said U.S. curler Tyler George. “We took it to another level this week. Usually we’re fighting and scraping to get into the playoffs but for five days we were the best team in the world and we did it at the right time…We always knew we had it in us, but to do it when it matters most is what I’m most proud of overall.”

Shuster called the American team’s win a story of “redemption,” and curler Matt Hamilton said that the win felt “almost unbelievable.” Despite the team’s impossible success, Shuster surprised interviewers when he was ask to pick out a memory that made this victory so sweet. “I look back at 2006 and standing on the podium and getting an Olympic medal and that being one of the most incredible moments of life,” Shuster said. “That’s when I knew that, for me, I wanted to go there, sing my national anthem on the top of a podium.”

Shuster got his dream, and when the national anthem played, he was not singing alone. His “ragtag” team of victorious underdogs joined him in song.

31915296404_afb8e15c44_bWhen a sports interview got political, Laura Ingraham suggested that LeBron James should “just shut up and dribble.” Ingraham has told celebrities to stay out of politics before, and she is one of the most vocal in a growing movement that believes the political opinions of singers, actresses and sports stars are given undue weight despite their lack of expertise. The backlash on social media was swift and vicious, but Michele Campbell, the executive director of the LeBron James Family Foundation, decided to consider what the world would look like if LeBron had followed Ingraham’s advice. “Without LeBron James outside of basketball…we would have had children who dropped out of school,” Campbell said. “We have 1,200 kids who are behind in school, but because of LeBron James they are catching up and believe they belong on a college campus and believe they can be educated. They believe they can be anything. If it was just basketball for [James], what a waste that would be.”

James is responsible for the creation of the I Promise program that serves 1,200 at-risk Akron students between 3rd and 9th grade. There is also an I Promise, Too program that helps parents get their GED. I Promise, Too has nearly 40 parents currently enrolled. The I Promise program also has $41 million earmarked for full-ride scholarships for Akron public school students who choose to attend the University of Akron.

In addition to scholarships, the I Promise program is opening its own school. There are expected to be 120 third graders and 120 fourth graders in attendance. The school is slated to be open to students from grades one through eight by 2022.

James also enlists the help of older student mentors to work with the younger children in his I Promise program. These students, called the 330 Ambassadors, have also been giving back to their communities. The Ambassadors traveled from Akon to Los Angeles for All-Star Weekend where they spent time doing community service. “For them to be in the communities giving back to Los Angeles and make a difference, it means everything,” James said. “I want them to experience this with me. My foundation is a part of my journey.”

LeBron James began his charity with a bike-a-thon in 2005. The goal was to get kids more involved in school. As James grew in fame and wealth, he realized that he could make an even bigger difference, though he did not imagine quiet how large the foundation would grow to become. “Did I ever envision it would get to this point? No, I didn’t,” James said. “But we never had a ceiling. We don’t have a roof now. There’s too many kids, too many places that need our help. We’re not going to be able to hit them all. WE know that. It’s impossible. But we’re going to hit as many as we can. We’re going to continue to do innovative things. That’s what it’s about.”

James has made it clear he does not intend to stay purely on the basketball court, instead, he intends to continue his charitable work, even when his career ends. “I knew early on that [the foundation] was going to be bigger than me,” he said. “My foundation, they’re going to carry this on longer than I can. That’s why I do what I do.”

Given the success his foundation has already had, one can only hope it continues to keep up the good work even when James eventually leaves the dribbling behind.

downloadAmerica was built on a Judeo-Christian foundation. Many of the Founding Fathers were devout Christians, and their faith heavily influenced the laws they crafted. The Declaration of Independence, the document that started the United States, references God more than once. Several of the early presidents were God-fearing men, and there were a number of later presidents who looked to God for guidance as well.

George Washington

George Washington was the first president of the United States and was a devout Christian. He often referenced Divine Authority and Providence in his speeches. Washington is also reported to have regularly prayed privately. Washington’s nephew reported that Washington did devotions with a Bible in the morning and the evening.

John Adams

John Adams was the second president of the United States. He maintained that American was founded on Christian principles and requested that a blessing be said over the White House. In a letter to Thomas Jefferson, Adams said, “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”

James Madison

James Madison was a declared Episcopalian who signed a federal bill funding Bible distribution. He wrote in a 1773 letter that he “sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments…than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and are rising in reputation and wealth, publically to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ.”

Abraham Lincoln

Evidence indicates that Abraham Lincoln came to his Christian faith later in life. He was quoted as saying “When I left Springfield…I was not a Christian. When I buried my son…I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ. Yes, I do love Jesus.”

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan was known for how seriously he took his faith. He said notably that “If we ever forget we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.” Similarly, he was quoted as saying, “I believe with all my heart that standing up for America means standing up for the God who has so blessed our land. We need God’s help to guide our nation through stormy seas. But we can’t expect Him to protect America in a crisis if we just leave Him on the shelf in our day-to-day living.”

George W. Bush

George W. Bush did not hesitate to reference God in public discourse. During a speech about the Iraq War, Bush said, “As we continue to fight against terror, we ask the Almighty to protect all those who battle for freedom throughout the world and our brave men and women in uniform, and we ask Him to shield innocents from harm. We recognize the sacrifice of our military families and ask God to grant them peace and strength. We will not forget the men and women who have fallen in service to America and to the cause of freedom. We pray that their loved ones will receive God’s comfort and grace.”

America has had many presidents who saw God’s hand in America’s history. Their faith may not be what put them in the history books, but it guided the actions that history does remember.