At HappyMaven, we treasure nothing more than a tale of people triumphing over adversity and succeeding against the odds.
Now more than ever, we believe that sharing stories of love, hope and courage will help to enrich our lives and remind us that there is always a silver lining, even on the darkest of clouds. This month our HappyNews stories aim to offer a reason to smile and we hope to provide a well-needed boost of positivity during these trying times.
Nine year old Tani Adewumi is on the way to becoming the youngest ever chess grandmaster. But his story could have been very different.
Born in Nigeria and growing up with the threat of Boko Haram, Tani’s family lived in constant fear. Then one day Tani’s father was asked to help Boko Horam, he refused, and the family became a target. To save their lives, they fled to America.
Whilst living in a New York homeless shelter, Tani discovered his talent for chess. His incredible gift lifted his family out of the homeless shelter and has now given them a more stable footing.
Students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have elected a black woman as president of the Undergraduate Association for the first time in the school's history.
Mechanical engineering student, Danielle Geathers, will be the president of the Undergraduate Association at MIT where about 6 percent of the graduates are black and 47 percent women, according to the school.
Danielle said she plans to use her platform to make the school as inclusive as possible.
"Although some people think it is just a figurehead role, figureheads can matter in terms of people seeing themselves in terms of representation," she said. "Seeing yourself at a college is kind of an important part of the admissions process."
MIT students had to leave campus in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, so Geathers campaigned online and through social media from her home in Miami, Florida. Students voted online.
Nurse Jann Tipping, and doctor Annalan Navaratnam, who had to cancel their wedding due to the coronavirus outbreak, have got married at the same hospital where they both work.
Jann and Annalan tied the knot at the end of April in the Grade 2 listed chapel at St Thomas’ Hospital. They asked the hospital’s chaplaincy team if it was possible to have a private wedding ceremony in the chapel, which has features dating back to when St Thomas’ opened on its current site opposite the Houses of Parliament in 1870.
The couple had planned to marry in August in London, but decided to cancel due to fears over their families being able to travel there safely from Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka. Jann said:
“We had a beautiful wedding day which we will always remember. It was a nice thing to happen in the middle of an anxious time. We’re so grateful to the chaplaincy team who went the extra mile to make it possible.”
Banking group Santander UK has made a pledge to the wellbeing of their 23,500 employees, offering wellbeing support across four key areas: physical, mental, social and financial.
Damien Shieber, head of culture and inclusion at Santander UK, explains: “As the traditional compartmentalising of work and home life subsides, and colleagues are able to bring their whole selves to work, this means us being there for our people with a wide range of support both at work and home, while, at the same time, ensuring colleagues know that they only need to interact with the support that they are most comfortable with and that works for them.”
Santander UK has set up a variety of initiatives to help people cope with Covid-19-related anxiety. Shieber explains:
“Aside from the recently added in-app (Thrive, Santander’s mental wellbeing app) coaching, offering access to trained psychologists who will reply within 30 seconds to provide support, we’ve also introduced a series of wellbeing webinars on a range of topics including remote working and coping with possible anxiety during unsettling times”
Often overlooked in the realm of wellbeing, Santander also offers personalised financial guidance for employees and provides access to financial wellbeing services, partnering with financial wellbeing consultancy Nudge to help with financial planning.
Social distancing has left many people feeling isolated, particularly the elderly.
Creative engagement specialist Maurie Voisey-Barlin came up with the idea of Window Therapy and was quick to share the idea with others. Now, the collective of artists is providing window therapy at 10 care home sites across New South Wales, Australia.
Artists are using music and dance to connect with the residents through the windows, and are creating art using chalk pens on the glass windows with the residents.
"It’s so important, particularly at this time, to keep residents’ spirits up and keep them engaged through play and fun.”
Musician and actor Benhur Helwend says that the weekly Window Therapy bookings are meaningful work for him. “I feel like I’m contributing to the happiness of people in the last stage of their lives,” he says.