The week's good news: September 2, 2021
It wasn't all bad!
Mom of 6 earns diploma years after being forced to drop out of high school
Dafani Peralta is leading by example, showing her children the importance of making education a priority. Peralta, 28, became pregnant with her first child at 15, and because she didn't have support at home, dropped out of high school. The Paterson, New Jersey, resident always wanted to earn her diploma, but struggled — sometimes she didn't have child care, or couldn't afford to take the bus. After the pandemic hit, Peralta — now married and a mom of six — realized she could earn her high school equivalency diploma from home, where she wouldn't need to worry about day care or transportation. "I took it seriously because I thought this was the opportunity of my life," she told Good Morning America. "I thought I'm not going to take it for granted." She impressed her teachers at the Paterson Adult & Continuing Education (P.A.C.E.) program, cramming in three months of learning in just 30 days. She graduated in July, and is now looking into online college courses.
93-year-old fan of the Hokey Pokey gets the perfect birthday surprise
Phyllis Brinkerhoff wants just one thing: For everyone to love the Hokey Pokey as much as she does. The 93-year-old Prairie Village, Kansas, resident adores the song, telling CBS News it's "fun" and "joyous." She gave her neighbor, Melanie Mendrys, a CD featuring the bop, and regularly checked in to see if she'd turned her into a fan. "I just would always say, 'Not quite yet,'" Mendrys said. Brinkerhoff, who got used to the idea that Mendrys may not be enamored by the song, didn't know that Mendrys was planning something for her 93rd birthday. Mendrys invited their neighbors to stand outside of Brinkerhoff's house so they could all surprise her by doing the Hokey Pokey dance together. On the big day, the flash mob gathered on Brinkerhoff's lawn to Hokey Pokey. "The smile on her face was so big," Mendrys said. "It doesn't take that much to make someone's day."
Knitting group in Minnesota creates special arm warmers for dialysis patients
The Knit-y Gritty Knitters have been making hats and shawls for years, and last month they added a new item to their repertoire: arm warmers made specifically for people receiving dialysis treatments. The St. Louis Park, Minnesota, craft group typically donate their creations to the Minnesota Visiting Nurse Association, but in July, member Dorothy Gmyrek suggested they knit arm warmers for people undergoing dialysis, a treatment for kidney failure. Gmyrek's sister is on dialysis, and said it can leave people feeling extremely cold. Gmyrek's pattern for an arm warmer covers the hands and forearms, leaving open the part of the arm used during treatment. The knitters have already distributed several of their colorful arm warmers to facilities in the area. "You can't just knit everything and put it away," member Judie Mather told the Star Tribune. "You have to give it somewhere. ... There was a need, and we said, 'Let's go for it.'"
Hawaiian teen uses money from recycling to fund college scholarships
Where some people see trash, Genshu Price sees opportunity. Price, 13, lives on Oahu, and is the founder of Bottles4College. Through the program, which he started three years ago, Price takes cans and bottles that he finds littering parks and beaches, recycles them, and puts the money aside for college scholarships. "We're helping the environment by recycling," Price told The Associated Press. "We're helping education by providing scholarship funds for Hawaii kids and inspiring them to want to get a good education. And then you're bringing communities together." Price picks up his own cans and gets donations from individuals as well as collection boxes he has set up at different schools and businesses. He has been able to recycle more than 100,000 cans so far, and hopes to one day hit between 2 and 4 million cans and bottles annually, so he can raise enough money to pay for the full tuition of two students.
Study suggests new approach to fighting malaria reduces severe illness and deaths in kids
Researchers conducting a malaria trial in Burkina Faso and Mali found that when children received both seasonal vaccinations and antimalarial drugs, rather than just one intervention, there was a steep drop in hospitalizations and deaths related to the disease. The study was published last week in The New England Journal of Medicine. Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease, and the most vulnerable group is children 5 and under. The trial, led by a team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, followed 6,000 children between five and 17 months. The study lasted three years, with the children receiving a malaria vaccine known as RTS,S and four courses of antimalarial medications annually during the time of highest transmission: rainy season. Researchers found that this combination of a vaccine and antimalarial drugs, compared to just the vaccine, reduced hospitalizations by 70.5 percent and death by 72.9 percent. Daniel Chandramohan, the study's co-lead author, said the results of the trial "were much more successful than we had anticipated."