London’s the first ever National Park City – here’s what that means

One charity is hoping to make London greener, healthier and wilder.

Tell me more!

The National City Park Foundation operates with one goal in mind – to apply the principles of National Parks to our cities, in the hopes of making life better for us, for the planet, and for life upon it.

Specifically, London National Park City is hoping to make life better for all in London. In July 2019, the Mayor of London signed a charter making London the first-ever National Park City.

What does that mean?

There are four main aims that come from London being a National Park City – to connect more people to nature and the outdoors, create more high-quality green and blue space, promote the rich cultural life enabled by the outdoors – and inspire more cities to become National Park Cites!

It’s amazing that there is a charity out there that is completely dedicated to taking care of the nature that exists in urban areas. If you want to get involved with the National City Park Foundation, whether you are based in London or somewhere else, you can find out how on their website.

This article aligns with the UN SDGs Climate Action, Good Health and Wellbeing.


NASCAR driver donates book vending machine to his elementary school

Reading is incredibly important for early development, but not every child has consistent access to books. However now, elementary school students at Byron Elementary in Michigan can earn them from a token system thanks to a recently donated book vending machine.

The machine was donated by NASCAR driver Erik Jones, who went to the school himself many years ago, and was donated to help celebrate March as Reading Month.

Students can earn tokens for the book vending machine through a reading recognition system throughout the month of March.

A former teacher of Erik’s, Tammy Laurin, contacted him about the idea to bring the book vending machine to the school and help give back to his hometown. 

“I am trying to bring the love of books to the next generation of readers and am so grateful to the Erik Jones Foundation for purchasing us a machine,” Tammy said. “I was determined to get one somehow and was ready to hold fundraisers to do it. Erik providing it means we can immediately start putting books into the hands of kids.”

Erik heard that and just wanted to give back.

“I went here and grew up here and so to be able to do something like that – I think it always has a little extra meaning,” he said. “That’s the cool thing for me.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partners of the Goals.


Viral TikTok results in entire group of shelter cats getting adopted

The internet can be an incredibly powerful tool and something as small as a video going viral can change lives. Such is the case of an entire group of cats at a Kansas City, Missouri animal shelter.

The shelter, Wayside Waifs, posted a video to TikTok with the intent of showing off some of their cats available for adoption. The internet caught wind of it and the video went viral. At the time of writing, the video sits at over 1.6 million views. 

With the cute video urging people to adopt, people took to action, adopting all but two of the cats featured in the video.

“It was actually something that one of our feline care technicians thought of. What kind of animal likes people? What kind of animal would wanna snuggle with the other kittens?” Casey Waugh with Wayside Waifs said.

Wayside Waifs is the largest pet adoption campus in Kansas City, and helps over 5,000 animals a year find new homes. The organization has been around since 1944, at one point under another name, and today sits on a 50-acre farm.

They even have a massive pet cemetery called Wayside Waifs Pet Memorial Park.

“[Our mission is] preparing pets and people for the bond of their lives,” they write.

Support the nonprofit through donations or volunteering – find out more.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partners of the Goals.


‘London Lonely Girls Club’ helps bring people together

A club tackling loneliness in London is now sitting at 31,000 members.

Amazing! Tell me more.

The London Lonely Girls Club was founded on Facebook in 2018 by Holly Cooke when she moved to the city.

At the start of 2022, they had 10,000 members – now, five years later, after the COVID-19 lockdowns, they have seen around 20,000 new people join.

Why has this happened?

One in 12 Londoners is affected by severe loneliness, according to a report published by the Campaign to End Loneliness.

When people move to London from other places, as Holly did, it can be difficult to make new friends. Since COVID, Holly has set up a few face-to-face meet-ups per month – brunches, picnics and more – and they will be booked up in 5 minutes.

Holly hopes that she can continue bringing people together and tackling loneliness in the capital – through the power of brunch, cocktails, and puppy yoga!

If you’re interested in getting involved with the London Lonely Girls Club, you can do so on their website. If you want to help people who are struggling with loneliness, you can give back to the Campaign to End Loneliness.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.


This charity telephone box is for the grieving

Sue Ryder is encouraging people to ‘Be Honest’ about their emotions surrounding grief.

Tell me more.

Sue Ryder, a charity that helps people with bereavement, among other things, has launched a new campaign to get people talking more frankly about their grief.

The campaign urges people ‘To Be Honest’ and share their true emotions associated with grief, without judgement. 

How does it work?

A telephone box for people who are grieving was launched at The Deck on Brighton Seafront this morning, to mark the start of Sue Ryder’s new campaign.

The telephone box – which will be open to the public from 22nd-23rd March – has been designed for those who have lost someone to share how they really feel.

New research from Sue Ryder shows that 74% of bereaved people say that their emotions around grief make them feel guilty on a weekly basis, while 69% of people have been scared or embarrassed to talk about their emotions whilst grieving.

It is hoped that the campaign will help people feel less embarrassed about their feelings of grief, and open up new conversations about bereavement.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.


Missouri schools are providing free period products to students

Feminine products can be costly. Generally, products geared toward women and feminine presenting people have something called the ‘pink tax’, which refers to state sales tax on menstrual products, like tampons, and feminine pads. To some people, these products can be too expensive for them to have consistent access to.

This is something that educators and school nurses in Missouri were noticing as they say their students struggle to afford period products and have missed school because of periods.

In response, Missouri school districts are now offering free menstrual hygiene products to students thanks to a new source of state funding.

Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has $1 million to reimburse schools for menstrual hygiene products and now schools are going to start carrying them for free for students to help keep them in the classroom. 

“We have heard stories about students not being able to fund these products for themselves,” Bart Washer, Interim Assistant Commissioner with the Office of College and Career Readiness, said. “The fact that they can stay in school because they now have access to products that they need, we can focus on that level of care to help them continue learning.”

Every district qualifies for at least $500 in reimbursement but can apply for more if they have more students or higher-need students.

“We’re socialized to kind of overlook some of the issues that impact girls,” Jennings Senior High School Principal Cryslynn Billingsley said. “So here’s another opportunity for us to address some of that socialization, and that you don’t have to be ashamed about having a period.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.


Reducing radon effects around the US

Something that not many people are aware of is radon and the effects that it can have on you. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and nearly one out of every 15 homes in the United States has high radon levels.

Some organizations and companies are trying to bring awareness to radon and its dangers. One such company, EcoSense, created a radon detection system called the EcoQube for just that reason. 

The EcoQube was built to also track the fluctuating levels of radon in the home.

“The general public does not know much when it comes to radon issues,” Insoo Park, the founder of EcoSense, tells Smiley News. “Something people did not know until my product was available was radon levels are fluctuating all the time. So even in a single day radon levels can fluctuate between safe and unsafe levels.”

Through their company, they are also trying to raise awareness about radon and how it can affect your body. The device itself tracks things in the short term while also monitoring long-term changes in the household.

“It’s very crucial to use a device that can do a short-term testing and also long-term testing in a very accurate and fast manner,” Insoo says.

They’re working to eliminate preventable deaths from radon exposure.

“21,000 people are dying to radon in the US every year,” Insoo says. “If we do the radon Testing the right way while being able to check the radon level in real-time and then by using a really accurate and fast manner device, then we can save a lot of lives so those 20,000 people don’t have to die.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.


8 ways you can spread joy for free

Whenever people suggest doing something nice for someone else, it can often come with a cost. Buying them lunch, driving them somewhere, sending a gift.

But kindness doesn’t have to cost a thing, as we all know. So, in light of that, we’ve come up with eight free things you can do to spread joy to others around you.

Because we could all do with a little more happiness in our lives, right?


It’s 2023, and unsolicited pics are out – unless, of course, they’re pet pics. If you know your mate is down, why not slide into their DMs with an adorable picture of your pet? Whether it’s your pup posing for the camera, or kitten pics for days, we know they’ll appreciate seeing what your furry friends are up to.


You might think this is low-hanging fruit – but there’s real science behind this one, honest! Smiling at strangers can boost feelings of social connectedness, and will help you feel happier for longer. Plus, who doesn’t like to see happy smiling faces when they’re out and about?


Spread joy to your neighbours, as well as local pets and wildlife by picking up litter as you go about your day. When people litter, it can be dangerous for wildlife like squirrels, foxes and birds, as well as pets like dogs and cats. Plus, we’ve all had that moment of horror when you step out in your new shoes, only to tread on chewing gum or a half-full drink can or something. Spread the joy – clean up your streets. Have a browse of CleanUpUK to find out more.


We talk a lot about volunteering at Smiley News – and that’s because it’s a really great thing to do. By just giving up a couple of hours a week or month to volunteer, you can bring joy to plenty of people and animals.

Plus, volunteering can help boost your self esteem and makes you happier, so you’re even spreading joy to yourself. Bonus points if you take a friend or two along with you and have some fun while you do it.


Not everyone is good at talking about their feelings, or even just letting loved ones know when they’re feeling down – that’s why it’s so important to check in regularly with the people you care about. If you want to spread some joy today, send a text to a family member or friend, ask them honestly how they are – and let them know how much you care about them.

Time To Talk shouldn’t just be one day of the year.


We’re all guilty of letting the washing pile up every now and again, especially when things get busy. But, when you live with someone else, it doesn’t always feel great. So if you noticed you’ve dropped the ball lately, pick up some of the slack – clean the kitchen, throw in a load of laundry, or was up a few dishes.

Most importantly – do it without asking! That’s what makes it count.


If you’re baking anyway, why not take those leftovers and use them to spread a little happiness? Rather than keeping them to yourself and forgetting all about them until you eventually have to throw them away, drop them off with a friend, or a neighbour, or even take them to work and share them with your colleagues.

Home baking always spreads joy – and if you’re making it anyway, what have you got to lose?


Everyone gets gifts that they don’t like – it’s just a fact of life. Alternatively, we’ll be the first to admit that we can sometimes buy things we don’t need, and it can leave us with a desperate need to declutter. But rather than dropping it all off at the tip or selling it online, think about your friends and family first.

Do you have a book they covet that you no longer want? Or perhaps your niece and nephew get way more use out of that old swingset than you ever do? One man’s trash really is another man’s treasure – so maybe think about that before you throw things out, and see if you can make someone’s day.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partnership for the Goals.


Contractor adds an accessibility ramp to a home for free

Accessibility issues are everywhere, and according to the CDC over 1 in 4 people in the US live with some kind of disability. Schools may lack accessible learning options, or someone’s home may lack a wheelchair-accessible ramp. 

An Ohio contractor wanted to change that for one family. 

Jerry Tonjes, a contractor in Napoleon, Ohio who owns JT’s Building and Construction, was one of many contractors contacted by the Wirick about adding an accessibility ramp to their house after their father had knee replacement surgery and was using a wheelchair to get around. 

“I called about 50 contractors and three of them got back to me. One of which was Jerry,” Jamie said.

After Jerry finished the ramp on the house and the Wiricks tried to pay, he declined. 

“There was no cost,” Tonjes said. “It came to the point where it was minimal dollars. It was just a good gesture that I just felt I had to do for [Jamie].”

His act of kindness also came from a place of empathy, relating to their situation.

“I’ve been going through the same thing similar with my fiance,” he said. “She had multiple myeloma cancer, so we were trying to give back to the community. She’s doing well.”

Beyond anything, he just wanted to help a family that needed it.

“I’ve done multiple ramps for people but it’s just sort of hit me,” Jerry said. “I can do something good for a change because we don’t have a lot of good in the world right now.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partners of the Goals.


The 20 happiest countries in the world

Happiness around the world persists, despite the COVID-19 pandemic – that’s the main finding of the latest global report on happiness levels.

Tell me more.

The World Happiness Report has found higher levels of benevolence than before the Covid-19 pandemic in countries around the world.

100,000 people across 137 countries were asked to evaluate their lives on a scale of one to 10 and, on average, gave scores just as high as they did pre-pandemic.

According to the 10th World Happiness Report, “the undoubted pains were offset by increases in the extent to which respondents had been able to discover and share the capacity to care for each other in difficult times”.

So which countries were the happiest?

The country which scored the happiest overall was Finland. Following that, came Denmark, Iceland, Israel, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Luxembourg and, coming in 10th, New Zealand.

The US ranked number 15 on the list, while the UK was still up there at number 19. Here’s the full list.

World’s 20 Happiest Countries in 2023

  1. Finland
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Israel
  5. Netherlands
  6. Sweden
  7. Norway
  8. Switzerland
  9. Luxembourg
  10. New Zealand
  11. Austria
  12. Australia
  13. Canada
  14. Ireland
  15. United States
  16. Germany
  17. Belgium
  18. Czech Republic
  19. United Kingdom
  20. Lithuania

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.