Posts tagged with "Good News Network"

Film festival is ‘screening’ candidates for solo 7-day stay at remote lighthouse to watch movies

January 12, 2021

The Gothenburg Film Festival is conducting a “pandemic cinema experiment” in the form of a contest. For the experiment, one candidate will be chosen from applicants around the globe—and that plucky individual will self-isolate and watch films at the famous Pater Noster Lighthhouse on the craggy island of Hamneskäroff the west coast of Sweden, reports Good News Network.

The annual festival, launched back in 1979, is the largest such event in Scandinavia. Over ten days each year at the end of January and beginning of February—in 2021, from January 30 through February 6—about 450 films from 60 nations are screened for 115,000 visitors.

However, things have changed during the age of the coronavirus pandemic, Creative Director Jonas Holmberg recently told CBC’s “As It Happens.” He says the experiment aims to examine how social distancing has transformed the movie-watching experience. The most obvious change is the shift from in-person to online and at-home movie viewership.

While on the island, the winning cinephile will get free room and board along with unlimited access to this year’s festival roster of films. “They are totally isolated. They are not allowed to bring anyone, of course, but also no phone and not even a book,” Holmberg said, adding, “…It will be only this person and the sea, the waves, the sky and the 60 different premieres that we are screening at the festival.”

According to the festival website, “Göteborg Film Festival 2021 will be anything but conventional. No crowds, no parties, no sold-out cinemas. This year’s festival focus, Social Distances, explores the new world that has emerged in the wake of the pandemic. What does film mean to us when we are isolated from everything else? To investigate, we are opening a brand-new cinema. In the middle of the ocean.

Requisites for the winner, according to Holmberg, are the following:

  • The person must be a true film fan
  • He or she must either enjoy or tolerate solitude; and
  • Since he or she will be expected to document the experience with a video diary, it’s crucial to be an adept communicator.

“They will talk about how life is on the island and how these special conditions have affected the relationship to the films that they have seen,” Holmberg says.

The winner will live in the lighthouse keeper’s home but all movies will air in a purpose-built, one-person cinema inside the lighthouse. Interested film lovers should apply at the festival website by January 17.

Note: For security reasons another person will remain on the island during the winner’s stay there. Each day, the two will have a short meeting to see if any assistance is needed with practical matters. During this short meeting, the winner also will get access to a computer  Pad to record his or her daily video diary, which will be sent to the film festival’s communication department for distribution.

Research contact: @good newsnetwork

‘Thirst’ aid: Does drinking lots of water lead to happiness and health?

December 24, 2020

Does being properly hydrated have a transcendent effect on our lives? A new survey of 2,000 Americans has found that those of us who drink six or more glasses of water daily tend to be more optimistic, energetic, and successful, according to a report by Good News Network.

Indeed, the poll—conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Bosch Home Appliances—established that people who drink a half dozen or more glasses of water per day are the most likely to strongly agree that they are “very happy” (41%).

Compare that to those who self-report drinking less than one glass per day: Only 12% strongly agree with that same statement.

What’s more, 40% of those who drink six or optimistic by nature, compared to just 10% of those who drink less than one glass of water a day.

Refreshment also could be the key to waking up feeling refreshed. The study found that those who drink six or more glasses woke up feeling exhausted fewer times each week (2.59) than those who drink less than one glass of water a day (3.14).

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

‘Roots’ and toots: Ethereal sounds emanate from the world’s first ‘piano’ made from plants

December 17, 2020

A Spanish biotech startup called Bioo has launched the world’s first “piano” that’s made from living plants. The remarkable instrument uses flora as biological antennas, capable of perceiving changes in frequency when they are touched, The Good News Network reports.

This change in frequency is translated into a voltage, which is conducted by the plants—which, it turns out, are natural conductors of electricity. The voltage is transformed into sound and activates the input of current from the electrical network into the circuit, giving rise to a magical show of light and music.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Bioo founder and CEO Pablo Vidarte.”Multiple studies show that engaging with plants has a positive impact on humans from an emotional and psychological perspective.

“We aim to create a global consciousness of nature that helps lead the way to a greener future. That’s why we’re so enthusiastic about leveraging our technology that allows us to transform plants into biological switches, to create an amazing experience.”

The ‘green piano’ was launched in August in Spain’s Ibiza Biotechnological Botanical, Europe’s only biotechnology botanical center.

To hear the “piano” play, go to the Bioo website.

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

Model village for Alzheimer’s patients in France encourages them to act and feel independent

October 15, 2020

Alzheimer’s patients fear losing their independence almost as much as they dread the loss of their cognitive abilities. But a new community in France has been designed to liberate these patients from traditional memory care units—and allow them to have freedom of choice and freedom of movement each day, the Good News Network reports.

Indeed, in southwestern France near the city of Dax, a community has been createdto fulfill the specific needs of its 105 residents—all of whom suffer from Alzheimer’s in varying stages. Built in the same spirit as De Hogeweyk, a purpose-built village for dementia patients in the Netherlands, it’s the first such facility in France.

In addition to nursing facilities, the Landais campus includes a grocery store, hair salon, cafeteria, library, and music room. Residents are given as much freedom as their conditions allow, and treated to numerous entertainments.

According to the Good News Network, they also are encouraged to participate in daily activities that can include shopping, cooking, and regular hairstyling appointments—because experts believe that sticking to a familiar routine may actually hinder the advance of the disease’s worst symptoms.

“It’s like being at home,” 82-year-old Madeleine Elissalde, one of the village’s first residents, told Reuters. “We’re well looked after.”

The program costs in the neighborhood of 6.7 million euros (US$7.8 million) to run each year. Residents and their families kick in about 24,000 euros (US$28,000) in annual fees, but more than half the total expense is subsidized by government authorities.

Expensive? Perhaps, but researchers at France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research say that seeing how such model conditions impact the progression of dementia may ultimately hep them gain insights for future treatment standards.

In the meantime, residents of villages in France, the Netherlands, and another prototype community in Canada are able to live out the remainder of their years with not only a measure of self-esteem, dignity, and sense of purpose but some true “liberté, égalité, et fraternité” as well.

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

Testing the water: Floater wetsuit helps non-swimmers overcome their fear of taking the plunge

October 1, 2020

A wetsuit called the Floater is getting people into the water after decades of living in fear. Invented by surfer and entrepreneur Mark Okrusko, the Floater wetsuit keeps non-swimmers buoyant with a patented flotation panel attached over the chest area

 “All wetsuits may look similar; however, [this] wetsuit stands, or floats, above the rest because of the added flotation device in the front panel.” Orusko recently told The Good News Network.

Traditionally, there are flotation belts, but they can be difficult to use—with a tricky center of gravity that can leave the wearer face down in the water. Life jackets often ride up on the neck and can be uncomfortable and bulky.

Donna Mudge, a resident of Santa Barbara, needed something special to conquer her fear. Now in her mid-fifties, she never had learned to swim. “Every time I was swimming, I feared that I would sink. And when I panicked, I would sink,” Mudge told GNN.

Swimming lessons from a lifeguard friend did little to alleviate Mudge’s fear. After one bad incident in the deep end during her swimming lessons, Mudge said, “I gripped the edge of the pool so tight, my friend couldn’t get me to let go.”

But, after trying the Floater, “I felt I could get in the water without someone watching me,” said Mudge, who now has the confidence to go boogie boarding by herself for the first time ever.

Sandra Brodeur of Nashua, New Hampshire, also has overcome her fear of water, using the floatation wetsuit. For as long as she can remember, Brodeur always feared not being able to touch the bottom, which made it difficult to learn to swim. “I tried everything—including private lessons, and could never get over the panic when I couldn’t touch the bottom of a pool or ocean floor,” said Brodeur.

Then her boyfriend, an avid sailor, wanted to take her to the British Virgin Islands for a sailing and snorkeling vacation. “He found the Floater wetsuit online and we ordered one. I felt so safe and confident at all times from the buoyancy of the suit that for the first time in my life I could relax in the water and enjoy it. At times, I was in 30-40 feet of water without fear! To me, that is a miracle.” said Brodeur.

“People write to us all the time about how they can now do activities in the water they never felt confident to do before, from children to young adults to seniors,” said Ruth Wishengrad, VP of the new California-based company., called Airtime Watertime.

The suits cost $149.95 for women; $169.95 for men; and $89.95 for the children’s style.

Research contact: @atwtfloater

Penguins at England’s Newquay Zoo perk up and play during pandemic with new bubble machine

July 28, 2020

Who can resist a shiny stream of bubbles—blowing willy-nilly in front of them? Certainly not the penguins at the Newquay Zoo in Cornwall, England, who were both fascinated and delighted when a patron recently donated a bubble machine for their amusement, the Good News Network reports.

The bubbles, which cause no harm to the animals, have in the past also proven popular among the zoo’s squirrel monkeys and Sulawesi crested macaques. But they were particularly appreciated by the penguins, who had been sorely lacking in entertainment since the pandemic began.

Penguin caretaker Dan Trevelyan told Good News Network that the bubbles help to keep the penguins’s predatory reflexes sharp.

“In the wild, these guys are marine predators who are very sensitive to objects and movement,” said Trevelyan. “The bubble machine is fantastic, as all the movement and new shapes and colors really stimulate these guys. They have a great time chasing them around. And all these donations are really appreciated.”

Animal enrichment programs are used to provide zoo animals with specialized stimulation designed to encourage their natural behaviors and prevent them from getting bored. Enrichment usually consists of branches and foliage, but can also come in the form of food hidden in hard-to-reach places for the animals to find.

These birds in particular are usually kept occupied by feeding shows and guests visiting the zoo, but due to the novel coronavirus, their daily routine was forced to change. Thankfully, Newquay Zoo fully re-opened to the general public on July 1.

Research contact: @goodnews_ntwrk

It’s a dog’s life: Supermarket security guard goes viral for shielding pooch from rain with umbrella

July 8, 2020

Ethan Dearman, who patrols the parking lot of the Morrison’s grocery store in Gaffnock, Scotland is being hailed as an “everyday hero” after he was photographed holding an umbrella over a dog’s head in the rain, the Good News Network reports.

Since the sweet moment was captured and posted to Twitter by 25-year-old Mel Gracie last week, it has racked up thousands of tweeted responses, lauding Dearman for his kindness.

When Dearman was asked about the umbrella, he simply told Gracie: “You never know how dogs feels about the rain.”

This is apparently not the first time that Dearman has taken the time to show some love to his canine friends. After the photo was posted to social media, the dog’s owner came forward to identify the dog as Freddie and praised Dearman for his enduring kindness towards him and his family.

“Thanks to security man [Ethan Dearman] for putting the umbrella over Freddie when it started to rain!” tweeted Freddie’s owner David Cherry. “So kind! He’s always so nice to my brother Stuart, my dad, and our Freddie!”

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

Near and dear: 60% of fathers say they are closer to their kids because of the COVID-19 lockdown

June 20, 2020

While some may say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, many American fathers who have been sheltering with their children during the COVID-19 pandemic would disagree: In fact, they say that they are more “in touch” with their kids—both psychologically and physically—than ever before.

In fact, the Good News Network reports, a pair of new studies reveal a silver lining amid the COVID gloom. The studies, released last week as part of Canadian Men’s Health Week, were conducted in May on behalf of the nonprofit Canadian Men’s Health Foundation (CMHF).

The first survey asked 1,019 Canadian fathers about the impact of the COVID lockdown on their roles as fathers. “Even though families have faced stressors and challenges with COVID-19, we recognize that fathers have been granted a golden opportunity to take time to slow down and connect with their children,” said Canadian Health Minister Adrian Dix.

“Many parents work full time and commute, and when that is taken away, they have more opportunities for togetherness, like a game of catch or going for a hike. Men’s health is impacted by their living situations, and getting a little more physical activity with their kids is a little thing that makes a big difference. We can learn from this pandemic in more ways than we think.”

As a result, the Good News Network reports, 40% of the respondents believe COVID-19 has had a positive impact on their role as a father; 52% are more aware of their importance as a father, and 60% felt closer to their children. Half of those surveyed have already decided to be more engaged as a father in the future.

According to the study, almost 66% of fathers have been providing companionship to their children more often during lockdown, and almost half pla60% felt n to continue doing so as restrictions are lifted. Likewise, 56% have been providing guidance to their children more often, with 46% planning to continue doing that as well.

“I’ve been off work since March and it’s been stressful, but the upside is I’ve been able to spend a lot more time with my daughters,” Dal Watson of Burnaby, B.C., told the news outlet.“I’m a professional chef and I’ve been spending time in the kitchen at home teaching my kids how to cook. We’re also sitting down as a family and eating together, which was something that couldn’t happen very often when I was working. I’m grateful for the extra time I have with my family.”

As a follow up to the online survey, The Men’s Initiative (TMI) at UBC conducted virtual focus groups with 45 fathers from across Canada. Many fathers described a hectic family dynamic prior to COVID with busy lives focused on long work days with commuting, eating on the run, and catering to children’s schedules. With the sports, extracurricular, and social activities, the family members experienced lives that were lived in parallel with each other.

As the pandemic evolves, fathers have expressed concern that they will experience a tension between shifting back to the “old normal,” and a desire to create a new normal going forward.

“We know the active and positive presence of fathers in their children’s lives has a positive effect on those children’s mental and physical wellbeing, and reduces the frequency of their negative behaviors,” noted Dr. David Kuhl, a UBC Professor of Medicine and a co-founder of TMI.

“If the COVID-19 lockdown accelerates the movement of dads to be more engaged with their children, that could be a lasting benefit from a tragic public health crisis,”said Dr. Larry Goldenberg, the founding chair of CMHF. “It is clear, however, that men realize it will be a challenge to continue spending quality time with their families once the daily stresses of commuting and working long hours are reintroduced to their lives.”

Research contact: @CMHFoundation66% providing more

Compassionate texting system enables you to exchange kind messages with frontline heroes

May 22, 2020

As armies of courageous healthcare workers continue to help Americans to combat the COVID-19 crisis, an ingenious startup service is enabling those of us who are sheltering in place to exchange unconditional messages of love and support with frontline heroes, the Good News Network (GNN) reports.

The #Text For Humanity switchboard, created by telecommunications provider Sinch in partnership with Mental Health America (MHA)originally launched in January to combat online negativity and promote the sharing of positive messages between strangers.

To date, GNN reports, more than 83,000 messages of positivity have been exchanged across 85 countries.

As the world moves into the next phase of the crisis, #TextForHumanity now enables people choosing to participate to identify themselves as either a frontline worker, or someone living in isolation. In turn, senders can choose the group they would like to send a personalized message of thanks and support. Frontline workers include anyone from nurses and doctors to delivery drivers and grocery store staffers—people performing the vital jobs that are keeping society going.

There is no charge for the service; neither Sinch nor MHA profits from #Text For Humanity.

However, MHA’s screening numbers have been growing since the start of the pandemic. MHA has seen a 70% increase in the number of people taking an anxiety (GAD-7) screen and a 64% increase in the number of people taking a depression (PHQ-9) screen between January and April.

“These are worrying times for many people and psychological well-being is severely impacted,” said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America. “Prolonged isolation can increase incidences of poor mental health, particularly for the most vulnerable in society. And then there’s the incredible burden placed on brave frontline workers. People putting their own lives at risk while saving others, and keeping society safe and functioning. We see Text For Humanity as an important route to engage them.”

Text For Humanity is now enabled by WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and regular text messaging—so it’s easy for anyone with even the most basic phone to join. This is particularly important for the elderly who are among the least likely to own a smartphone.

To join the service, text JOIN to 37352 (U.S. only) or +1 833-421-4726 (additional international number options and links to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are available through the platform’s website). The service will ask for a couple of simple details including whether you are a frontline worker or living in isolation. As before, all data is stored securely, and no personal or identifying details will be known or shared.

You can then write a short message that gives a frontline worker or someone in isolation a smile. Once you’ve sent the message, Text For Humanity will share it with a fellow human somewhere in the world. Not only that, you will then receive a positive message from a stranger on your own phone. Messages you receive can also be transformed into vibrant and personalized artwork that can be easily shared from a smartphone on social media.

The service is currently run in English language only. You can opt out at any time by simply replying STOP to the service, says GNN.

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

New Rube Goldberg challenge: Build a machine that drops a bar of soap into your hand

April 24, 2020

Engineer and cartoonist Rube Goldberg was renowned dreaming up exceptionally complex machines that went through lots of twists and turns to perform simple household tasks. Now, his granddaughter Jennifer George is inviting inventors of all ages to make their own Rube Goldberg Machines while they are at home sheltering in place, the Good News Network reports.

Although participants in this year’s Rube Goldberg Machine Contest originally were supposed to design a machine that turned on a light switch, the novel coronavirus outbreak inspired George to task participants with building a machine that drops a bar of soap into someone’s hand in just 10 to 20 steps.

“It just seemed like the right task,” George told CBC. “Everyone has got a bar of soap somewhere in their house. And Rube Goldberg machines are made from everyday objects. So you don’t have to go shopping. You don’t have to buy anything.

“You just have to figure out a fun, sort of interesting way to [take] something you’ve looked at for years, turn it upside down and see if it has inherent kinetic properties. And hopefully it does.”

The annual contest, which is free, requires participants to take a continuous video of their machine in action. Once the video is uploaded to YouTube, participants can send the links to the Rube Goldberg website.

Submissions will be accepted through May 31, after which three machine designs will be selected as the winners in mid-June. In addition to the winners being featured as the star engineers of the contest on the Rube Goldberg website, they also will receive a free swag bag from the organization.

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork