Taking action

#1095 Upsee miracles: children experience walking for the first time


Bethany and the inventor of the Upsee Debby Elnatan; photo from Firefly’s Facebook page

When Debby Elnaton’s second child was born with cerebral palsy, he cried through most of his first year. She figured Rotem was frustrated because he wanted to move the way any other child could. Her therapist galvanized her when he said, “Your child doesn’t know what his legs are. He doesn’t have consciousness of his legs.”

She began experimenting with special shoes and harnesses that would connect Rotem with her. After numerous tries she created the Upsee. With the child strapped to an adult, facing forward, he could experience what it was like to walk, to dance, to kick a ball.

Thanks to her partnership with Firefly, “a leading light in the research, design and development of postural care solutions for children”, youngsters with physical challenges will have a chance to experience more of the world.

Elnaton told the Belfast Telegraph:

I am crying when I see how parents use the Upsee to fill in a big void in their life and when I see the happiness that it brings to the parents and the children.

The mother who danced in her Upsee and said the hardest part was losing herself. I can relate to this sentence. We often forget what makes us happy. If the Upsee will help families be happier, then I have done my job.

A version of this post first appeared on Hope Habit.


#1091 You are beautiful just the way you are

Colbie Caillat

The pressure to measure up to some cultural standard of “beautiful” – to wear the right clothing and makeup, have the culturally accepted body type and convey sexiness (and, of course, accept blame if she’s assaulted) – is so powerful…


#1090 They stand firm against the terror of Muslim fundamentalism

Karima Bennoune

Karima Bennoune at TEDxExeter; photo clip from video below

Karima Bennoune, professor of international law at the University of California-Davis School of Law, is telling the stories of women and men risking their lives to counter right-wing fundamentalistm. She asks us to do the same.

Always in her mind is the bravery of her father. In the 1990s the University of Algiers professor faced death threats for his vocal opposition to fundamentalism and terrorism. Although he was forced from his university position and had to flee his apartment, he remained in Algeria, publishing denunciations that kept him in the crosshairs of those he saw as the destroyers of true Islam.

In the TEDxExeter talk she gave in March 2014, she introduced four of the people she interviewed in writing her book, Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism. Until his death of a heart attack in 2012, Faizan Peerzada and the Rafi Peer Theatre brought children’s theatre to Pakistani audiences in spite of terrorist attacks. Maria Bashir, Afghanistan’s only woman prosecutor, fights for the rights of women in spite of threats to her life. Abdirizak Bihi works tirelessly in the Somali-American community of Minneapolis to counter the recruitment efforts of the militant Al Shabaab. The 22-year-old Algerian law student, Amel Zenoune-Zouani, refused the fundamentalists’ order for women to halt their studies and was murdered as an example to other young women. That was in 1997. Today Amel’s sister Lamia practices law in Algiers.

When she spoke to CBC’s Michael Enright in December 2013, Bennoune said the people she interviewed for her book have been abandoned by the west. Their stories are virtually unknown. She wants to change that, with our help.

If we are serious about supporting the struggle for social justice, we need to know and share the stories of these courageous people. They are putting their lives on the line. They give me hope.

Amazon US, Amazon Canada or your public library