Amazing breakthrough in breast cancer vaccine

There has been a huge breakthrough in creating a vaccine for breast cancer.

Amazing! Tell me more.

Cancer is an incredibly difficult thing to treat – because it comes from our own cells uncontrollably mutating. There are even many different types of breast cancer, and each one responds differently to treatment.

That being said, researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine just made a very promising breakthrough.

Go on

The team recently published results of their study, which they have been working on for twenty years. Twenty years!

Anyway, these results were of the first phase of human trials for a plasmid DNA-based vaccine.

Not only have they found the vaccine to be totally safe, but it’s also very effective in preventing the growth of human epidermal growth receptor 2 (HER2) tumour cells.


These HER2 proteins are responsible for causing one of the most fast-acting and aggressive types of breast cancer. 

Lead author of the study Dr. Mary (Nora) L. Disis believes this is a huge breakthrough – and that the vaccine may even be used in clinics by 2030.

Incredible news!

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

Equality Wellbeing

Blind children learn to read with braille book club

National Braille Press has been working on and has made a name for itself providing reading materials that blind and hard-of-seeing people can read. 

“Braille is literacy by definition for blind or low vision person. If they don’t have that skill it’s hard to learn sentence structure and grammar and becoming more independent in life,” said Brian MacDonald, President and CEO of the Braille National Press.

With that in mind, the National Braille Press started a children’s book club to help kids that might not be able to see still learn to read. Every month, the organization sends out classic children’s books with custom braille pages put together by staff and volunteers at their facility. 

“We promote literacy for blind children through outreach programs and we encourage the teaching of braille to blind children by providing age-appropriate braille reading and support materials for caregivers and educators,” they write on their website.

Beyond children’s books, the National Braille Press is the largest producer of training materials, information pamphlets, and even tests in braille for the United States.

“Nothing substitutes for the ability to read. For blind people, braille is an essential tool in the process of becoming literate,” the NBP writes.

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

Culture Wellbeing

Band uses music to raise money for Ukraine

The Russian Invasion of, and subsequent war, in Ukraine is nearing its one-year anniversary. The people of Ukraine have been subjected to violence, displacement, and other awful things that come with war. 

The international support for Ukraine has been swift and vast with an outpouring of funding from individuals, organizations, and entire countries. One group that has aimed to support the people in Ukraine is the recording artists that makeup October Project

The band was formed in the 90s and is made up of members Emil Adler, Julie Flanders, and Marina Belica. October Project has been into advocacy for a while, supporting and raising funds for other international conflicts, and more recently bringing together 163 singers from around the world during the height of Covid in 2020 to sing in the award-winning “Virtual Choir of Joy.” 

“They were on that musical activism side – they had a song that was in keeping with that, and thinking about wartime children and Bosnia, that was called the eyes of Mercy back in the day,” October Project’s public relations consultant Katie Waldron tells Smiley News

Their newest project, in support of Ukraine, is called ANGELS FOR UKRAINE, and in partnership with collaboration with Kseniya Simonova, a globally-renowned sand artist and winner of Ukraine’s Got Talent. They are working to raise funds for the International Rescue Committee‘s “Crisis in Ukraine” Emergency Fund. 

As a part of the project, they released the song  “Angels in the Garden” with an accompanying music video featuring visuals from Kseniya.

“Over the years we’ve had listeners express the power of our music in their lives, especially in times of transition and hardship,” Flanders says. “The notion of music being a healing force is always there for us.”

“Humanitarian work is a natural aspect of that. The daily news of the horror and homelessness we see Ukrainians experience is unimaginable.”

Belica then added: “While we hope that what we have created will uplift people, we wanted to do something more to support Ukrainian women, children, and families.  As winter sets in and temperatures fall well below zero, the IRC is scaling up its efforts in Ukraine and its neighboring areas, distributing essential seasonal items such as blankets, sleeping bags, and heaters to cover the most basic needs of displaced families.”

They wanted to get this project done as the winter months rolled in and the weather in Ukraine got much colder. 

“Refugees and displaced families are already dealing with so much anyway, but then with the weather changes, there’s so much more blankets and you know, medical supplies and things that people need to help these families via the IRC,” Katie says. 

As for future efforts, the band is planning a choir piece to support mothers and children. 

“We are on the verge of producing another choir piece that has a theme of mothers and children (victims, innocents) being displaced from their homes by war and other forms of destruction – people who are seeking harbor,” Flanders says. “This is an important cause to us and we’ll be reviewing ways we can couple this piece with relief efforts in 2023.”

On the Ukraine effort, Flanders said that they wanted to highlight light and peace.

“At a time of year when angels are symbols of hope and peace, we want this song and our position as recognized artists to serve as angels, returning light and comfort to those less fortunate than we are,” says Flanders.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.


The Woman Who’s Looking To Solve The World’s Mental Health Crisis

⚡️💥 This week’s #EverydayHero is Meg Zeenat Wamithi, CEO at Mindmapper UK and global mental health educator.

“I had two options: either wait for someone else to do it… or do it myself.”

Mindmapper UK’s Vision for the future is constantly involving with every interaction they have with young people in their work.

They envision creating spaces in local communities around the world that allow young people to learn how to take care of their bodies, minds & bank accounts, engage in meaningful relationships and take part in work experience opportunties in their local communities. 

Learn more about Mindmapper UK here:


Platform 8: The Travel Challenge That Inspired The MQ CEO

In our third episode of ‘CEOs in Unlikely Places’, we met Lea Milligan at Bristol Temple Meads Station.

Lea is the CEO of MQ, The UK leading research charity on Mental Health.

He has worked in the charity sector for 20 years, collaborating with people and setting up projects all over the country.

Back in 2008 he challenged a colleague to see who could visit every county of England with their job.

After 6 weeks of travelling, it all ended at Bristol Temple Meads Train Station on Platform 8.

A place that still inspires his mission to bring people together and make a difference in the world.

Find out more and support MQ Mental Health Research here


Planting trees could save lives during summer heat

A new study has found that planting more trees could save lives.

Hang on … what?

That’s right! Researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health found that increasing the number of trees in urban areas can lower temperatures.

The European average tree coverage in urban areas is around 14.9%. By planting more trees and increasing the average to 30%, temperatures in those places can be lowered by as much as 0.4C.

So what does that have to do with saving lives?

Heatwaves can have a huge impact on people’s health  – one particularly bad heatwave in 2003 caused more than 70,000 excess deaths across Europe.

By putting in preventative measures, like planting trees, the hope is that we can avoid these unnecessary deaths altogether – as well as other, less serious health problems, like heatstroke.

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


Teen-to-teen crisis hotline helps Oregon teens in need

Youth mental health is declining in the United States and while much of the blame can be leveled at the pandemic, the trend was still visible for over a decade beforehand.

That trend is exacerbated in Oregon which finds itself as one of the worst states in terms of mental health care accessibility for teens. 

One organization, YouthLine is trying to address that and make a dent in the youth mental health crisis.

The organization has a teen-to-teen system where teenage volunteers help provide crisis support to other teens that call in. YouthLine is part of the larger LinesForLife that helps provide crisis lines to the whole of Oregon.

What else do they do to support?

Beyond their crisis line, they also operate an outreach program to destigmatize mental health in the region.

On top of that, they also maintain a massive list of resources for everything from personal empowerment to COVID-19 help.

“Empowering young people is at the heart of what we do at YouthLine,” they write on their website.

“Our programs are designed to elevate youth voices and equip youth with the tools and skills to manage their own well-being and offer help to others.”

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


This ‘warm bank’ map helps people in need

Several charities have come together to create a virtual map showing you where to find ‘warm banks’ this winter.

Hold on – what are warm banks?

Warm banks are places, usually public spaces, where people who cannot afford to run their heating can visit to go and get warm.

Often, these are set up by community groups, local councils and religious venues that are making their space, and their heat, available to people during this cost-of-living crisis.

So how does it work?

Warm Welcome, set up by a bunch of charities including Christians Against Poverty and Stewardship in association with ChurchWorks, has a virtual map to help people in need find their nearest warm bank.

Plus, Warm Welcome also has great instructions on how to set up a warm bank, if you are a community space.

If you need to find a warm space this winter, or want to register yourself as a warm bank, visit the Warm Welcome website to learn everything you need to know.


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


A nonprofit hotline for kids in need

Home life isn’t always easy. Financial struggles, abuse, and a whole host of other circumstances can lead to kids and teenagers wanting to run away, to escape. Those kids often find themselves in dangerous situations away from home – going missing entirely.

The National Runaway Safeline is an organization that provides resources to those kids and extended families to keep them as safe as possible.

The safe line serves primarily as the national communication hotline for youth in crisis and homelessness across the country, but in its over 50 years of existence, it has evolved to bring other resources for parents and guardians of the youth in crisis as well. 

They run essentially in two mediums, their primary crisis hotline, 1-800-runaway, where people can call for instant crisis help, and their online portion which features multiple forums, and a live chat feature, which has become one of their most popular assets.

“We often see younger youth reaching out by our chat service versus hotline,” Jess Jasurda, Director of Crisis Services for National Runaway Safeline tells Smiley News. “I know, voicemails and talking on the phone is scary, for me personally, but especially when we think about how often young people are engaging online, texting with each other, etc. that really offers a low-barrier way to connect with a safe and supportive adult and a free and confidential way to so it’s a little bit of what we do there.”

The safe line is funded through the Family and Youth Service Bureau. Their primary demographic is from the ages of 12 to 21 but sees a much larger proportion of the people they serve between 15 to 17.

“Think about yourself when you’re 15 to 17,” Jess says. “That’s an age group where we know that a lot of young people are learning about themselves, establishing what it means to be independent from mom, dad, family, and really tried to navigate some tough situations.

“Just paying attention to the increase in younger youth reaching out is something that, that we’re really taking a look at. When we think specifically about young people who are 15 and under, we’ve seen a 53% increase over the past three years.”

The service has changed over the years and has really adapted to whatever time they were dealing with. “We’ve grown so much and have really added a lot of different facets to our programming to move towards the place where we know that young people are reaching out and getting support in this way,” Jess says.

“So each year, we impact and have the opportunity to connect with over 125,000 young people and so that’s across both of our hotline and our digital resources.”

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


You’ll soon be able to find the least polluted way to commute

One young entrepreneur has created an app to make your journey around London that bit healthier.

Tell me more.

Tanya Beri, aged 29, has won one of Innovator UK’s Young Innovator awards for creating an app designed to help you travel around London on the Tube.

But this isn’t quite like the other map apps you might have used – rather than showing you the quickest way to your destination, Tanya’s app will show you the least polluted route.

Hang on, what?

That’s right! Tanya’s app uses research which has been performed over the years by multiple scientists, including those from Kings College London, to tell you how polluted your journey will be.

This is in the hopes of reducing the amount of pollution you inhale on your trip around the capital, keeping you healthier for longer.

Why does the level of pollution in the air matter?

Various studies suggest that long-term exposure to the pollutants that gather in badly ventilated underground lines (such as Victoria or Jubilee which are deep underground) is linked to increased rates of chronic bronchitis and increased mortality from lung cancer and heart disease.

Tanya’s app will be released later this year, so keep an eye out.

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