Saturday, November 28, 2009

Aiming for the top, from rock-bottom

I had to post this article from CNN today, after watching a related piece on the evening news. It's a great story, of Kenneth Chancey, a Los Angeles teen, and the NFL star - Nnamdi Asomugha - who hopes to help Kenneth on his way to university. Not that Kenneth needs much help... He's a straight A student, class president, and a running back on his school's football team, with his eyes on Harvard or another top school - and he's managed all that whilst living in a shelter on LA's notorious Skid Row. Asomugha runs a foundation that helps get disadvantaged kids into college and went to meet Kenneth after seeing a CNN report about him earlier this year. Asomugha's now invited Kenneth on his foundation's tour to Washington DC, during which - all going well - a trip to meet President Obama may be on the cards. Let's hope that comes off! Either way, though, you get the sense that Kenneth is going to achieve great things. After all, he's already inspired many people - including Asomugha – by overcoming adversity and striving for excellence. Amazing.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Walking for hope and hospice

Thanks go to RTBH reader Karn for this article, from the Bemidji Pioneer, which reminds me a lot of my previous post (about Jonathon Prince running across America). Colin Skinner walked across the UK, Canada and the US - more than 6000 miles - in 1988 to raise money for hospice care. And now, two decades on, he's doing it again. This time, he was inspired by his own mother's death from pancreatic cancer at the age of 59. On his travels, he's met many cancer sufferers, AIDS patients and others receiving hospice care. He has seen how good hospices can improve the quality of patient's lives, and he walks to raise others' awareness of this as well as to raise funds. His current trek has seen him covering the UK in 2007, and he's now walking from New York to North Dakota, with plans to continue from North Dakota to California in 2010. To quote a nice segment from the article: "The question he poses to other is: If I can walk 12,000 miles to help hospices, what can you do to help? 'There is something everyone can do,' he said. 'It’s just finding that right thing.' "

You can visit Colin Skinner's website to find out more about his walks, his book (Beyond the Setting Sun) and his fundraising efforts.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hope - and change - start with you

I discovered this fascinating case study of the power of hope today. In case you haven't heard of him already, let me introduce you to Jonathon Prince. Jonathon has already run across America twice - that's right! about 5000 miles in total, apparently - once to raise money for those affected by Hurricane Katrina, and then again on the hurricane's anniversary. He raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for his chosen cause. He now calls himself an 'athlivist' - an athlete-activist hybrid, using his sporting abilities to effect positive change in the world. And he's just launched his third cross-country effort! This time, he's running from community to community, hoping to help out in some way in each one, whilst also raising money for 6 charities. It's all pretty inspiring, I must say - which is exactly Jonathon's intention. His main aim, he says, is "to inspire others to make whatever change may be desperately needed to give their own lives more meaning. It’s that ‘Hope Factor’ that can move mountains!" I'm sure all RTBH readers would agree with that...

You can link to Jonathon's 'hope or die' website from the post title above, where you'll find his bio, news reports and other information about his quest. You can also donate to any of the charities involved, or follow his blog / tweets.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Saving energy the Danish way

As promised, a video! I discovered an online news channel called WorldFocus, which was set up by several ex-mainstream journalists who wanted to counterbalance the dearth of international news carried by major networks. The result is well worth a look. Linked from the post title above is a video report from Denmark, which shows how the country has maintained high growth rates over recent decades, whilst keeping its energy use constant and providing lots of 'green jobs' for Danish workers. Renewable energy sources, taxes on energy consumption and an educated and frugal public seem to be the keys to Denmark's success. It's a recipe we could all seek to replicate with a little effort - and some sound public policy!

Monday, November 2, 2009

First Olympic skier for Ghana

Well, it's been a while... I definitely owe RTBH a post! First, I should say that I am planning to expand the range of things I share on RTBH, moving beyond news articles to include the occasional video, advocacy campaign, inspiring website, competition etc. I'm hoping that will make for a more exciting read - but please let me know your thoughts.

In the meantime, I found this wonderful video on the BBC website today - it's an interview with Ghana's first ever Olympic skier, who will be competing at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in February 2010. Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, also known as the 'snow leopard', started ski-ing when he arrived in the UK in 2000 and landed a job in an indoor ski centre. Since then, he's progressed rapidly and has already skied at the World Championships. His aim is to close the gap between his own performance and that of the medal winners - and overall, not to come last in Vancouver. Most Ghanaians think he's 'crazy', he says, but I'm pretty sure they and many other people across the world will be cheering Kwame on in 2010.