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It wasn't all bad...

The week's good news: April 11, 2019

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Catherine Garcia
A library.
ChrisBoswell/iStock
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1.

Libraries are letting patrons pay off their fines by donating canned goods

It's National Library Week, and to mark the occasion, libraries across the United States are giving patrons with unpaid late fees a charitable way to get rid of their debts. The Food for Fines program is simple: Bring a nonperishable canned food item to a participating library, and get credit toward your fine while filling the shelves at a local food pantry. Most libraries waive $1 worth of fees for every canned item, and some are also accepting pet food to donate to animal shelters. National Library Week runs through April 13, but some libraries are offering the program all month. At the Thomas Beaver Free Library in Danville, Pennsylvania, people who don't even have fines are dropping off canned goods and pet items, director Kathleen McQuiston said. "We wanted to do something to contribute to the community, since the community has been very supportive of us," she told the Danville News. [Mental Floss, Danville News]

2.

New Jersey teen shares the stage with her service dog

Erin Bischoff, a 17-year-old from Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, recently tried out for her high school's production of The Wizard of Oz, and was thrilled when she learned she would be playing the lead. "I was not expecting Dorothy," she told CBS News. "I was expecting more of a Glinda, a more secondary character." Her service dog, Gage, is starring alongside her, as a modern-day version of Toto. Bischoff has a genetic condition called osteogenesis imperfecta, meaning her bones can break easily. She has had 103 bone fractures and 10 surgeries, and uses a wheelchair. Bischoff says a lot of people focus on her chair, and she's hoping that her performance changes that. "My main thing is I really want them just to see me as anyone else who's on the stage," she said. "And that overall, disability should be embraced." [CBS News]

3.

Once a farmworker, California doctor returns to the fields to treat migrant kids

Growing up, Dr. Ramon Resa didn't see any physicians in his community who looked like him. Resa, now 65, grew up in California's Central Valley. He was abandoned as a toddler and raised by a family with 14 children. He started picking cotton at 3, and continued to work the fields through high school. When it came time to pick a career path, he thought about how meaningful it would be to serve as a doctor in his community. Resa knew many Latino people who were misdiagnosed or ignored by local physicians, and he wanted to break that cycle. "That was my inspiration," he told ABC Los Angeles. He returned to the Central Valley after medical school, and has been a pediatrician there for more than three decades. Resa treats the children of migrant workers, and also travels around the country to share his story with young people. [ABC Los Angeles, The Mercury News]

4.

High school robotics team builds power wheelchair for toddler

Tyler Jackson recently approached the robotics club at Minnesota's Farmington High School with a life-changing request: Would they be able to build his 2-year-old son a power wheelchair? Cillian Jackson was born with a rare genetic microdeletion known as NRXN1, and it can be hard for him to move around. After hearing about organizations that customize Power Wheels for kids who need assistance getting from place to place, Tyler thought the Rogue Robotics team might be able to do something for his son. The students got to work, using a 3-D printer to make a joystick and installing a smaller seat with a safety harness. Cillian's parents say his new wheelchair lets him explore the world, and he's more independent. "He just loves pausing and looking at things because he has never had this ability before," his mother, Krissy Jackson, told Today. "You just see his eyes light up." [Today]

5.

Scientists successfully zap the brain into remembering more

A new study has found that passing a harmless electrical current through the brain for 25 minutes can help regain the loss of working memory in older people. The study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience on Monday, tested the "working memory," which is the neurological process that holds information for short periods of time. The study tested this in younger and older participants by administering a simple memory test, which showed that younger people could accurately remember things about 90 percent of the time, while older people averaged about 80 percent. After stimulating certain areas of the brain with alternating current, it was shown that the older participants could reach the level of 90 percent, even up to 50 minutes after the treatment. Robert Reinhart, lead author and a neuroscientist at Boston University, said the study presents evidence that "negative age-related changes are not unchangeable." [The Guardian, Stat News]