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Whirlpool

These Schools Raised Attendance by Supplying Laundry Services

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Whirlpool

At David Weir K-8 Preparatory Academy in Fairfield, California, many of the students come from low-income families. More than 90 percent are on free or reduced-fee lunch programs. In the overall district, at-risk students missed an average of 12 days in the 2014/2015 school year.

This year, that number was reduced to 3.5 days missed, meaning those students attended almost two more weeks than the average. The difference? The schools installed a washing machine.

According to Today.com, two school districts in California were chosen to participate in the Whirlpool Care Counts program, an experiment that was designed to see if attendance with low-income or at-risk students could be increased by offering on-site laundry services. At David Weir, many students are considered transient or even homeless; clean clothes can be difficult to come by, and some children may opt to skip class rather than come in wearing unwashed apparel.

One student, Vanessa, told a Whirlpool documentary crew that her home had a washer and dryer, but their electricity had been shut off.

"There are things we just take for granted for our kids," Martha Lacy, principal of David Weir, said. "Food, clothes, having a bed to sleep in at night. I know many of my kids don't have any one of those three things. We can address the food issue, and we can address if they need any kind of social services, but up until this year, we've never had anything to address having clean clothes."

Organizers approached at-risk students and offered the laundry service, with one caveat: they had to be in class while it was getting done. Of the participating students in 17 schools, 93 percent increased attendance. And according to teachers, these students didn’t just show up—they were more engaged and more likely to participate in class or extracurricular activities.

Whirlpool plans to add 30 additional schools this fall and is currently accepting donations to help fund the expansion. You can learn more about the program in the video below.

[h/t Today]

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Tulane University Offers Free Semester to Students Affected by Hurricane Maria
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As Puerto Rico continues to assess the damage left by Hurricane Maria last month, one American institution is offering displaced residents some long-term hope. Tulane University in New Orleans is waiving next semester’s tuition fees for students enrolled at Puerto Rican colleges prior to the storm, Forbes reports.

From now until November 1, students whose studies were disrupted by Maria can apply for one of the limited spots still open for Tulane’s spring semester. And while guests won’t be required to pay Tulane's fees, they will still be asked to pay tuition to their home universities as Puerto Rico rebuilds. Students from other islands recovering from this year’s hurricane season, like St. Martin and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are also welcome to submit applications.

Tulane knows all too well the importance of community support in the wake of disaster. The campus was closed for all of the 2005 fall semester as New Orleans dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. During that time, schools around the world opened their doors to Tulane students who were displaced. The university wrote in a blog post, “It’s now our turn to pay it forward and assist students in need.”

Students looking to study as guests at Tulane this spring can fill out this form to apply.

[h/t Forbes]

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entertainment
Pablo, a Groundbreaking New BBC Series, Teaches Kids About Autism
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BBC

Autism spectrum disorder affects one in 68 kids in the U.S., but there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding the nature of the condition and what it feels like to have it. As BuzzFeed reports, a new British children’s program aims to teach viewers about autism while showing kids on the spectrum characters and stories to which they can relate.

Pablo, which premiered on the BBC’s kids’ network CBeebies earlier this month, follows a 5-year-old boy as he navigates life with autism. The show uses two mediums: At the start of an episode, Pablo is played by a live actor and faces everyday scenarios, like feeling overstimulated by a noisy birthday party. When he’s working out the conflict in his head, Pablo is depicted as an animated doodle accompanied by animal friends like Noa the dinosaur and Llama the llama.

Each character illustrates a different facet of autism spectrum disorder: Noa loves problem-solving but has trouble reading facial expression, while Llama notices small details and likes repeating words she hears. On top of demonstrating the diversity of autism onscreen, the show depends on individuals with autism behind the scenes as well. Writers with autism contribute to the scripts and all of the characters are voiced by people with autism.

“It’s more than television,” the show’s creator Gráinne McGuinness said in a short documentary about the series. “It’s a movement that seeks to build awareness internationally about what it might be like to see the world from the perspective of someone with autism.”

Pablo can be watched in the UK on CBeebies or globally on the network's website.

[h/t BuzzFeed]

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