Eighth graders learn big lessons from CNN Heroes assignment
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow e-mailed and chatted over Skype about his work to relieve hunger problems for kids.
January 5th, 2011
11:44 AM ET

Eighth graders learn big lessons from CNN Heroes assignment

For a group of eighth graders in Iowa a language arts assignment turned into an eye-opening experience when they got the chance to speak with some of the CNN Heroes winners.

Their teacher assigned them to draw names of the CNN Hero finalists and try to reach out to them for a Skype session for class. Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, who was named a hero for his efforts to towards global hunger relief, shared stories with the students of other kids, worlds away, who don't have even the simple luxuries the Dickinson County kids likely took for granted.

"For our kids to hear these stories about other students their age that all they want out of life is education and a meal," teacher Chris Block told the Dickinson County News. "That's pretty amazing– for our students to know what life is really like in other places."

Learn more about CNN Heroes

November 17th, 2010
04:33 PM ET

iReport #BeAHero challenge: Test your 'go green' smarts


Editor's Note: Watch "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" Thanksgiving night at 8 p.m.ET/5 p.m. PT.

[Updated 11/18/10 at 12:20 p.m. ET ]

We got dozens of great responses to last night's "Going green" challenge.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR program, the biggest contributors to global warming are power plants, cars, trucks, airplanes, buildings and homes.

Clearly, you know what it takes to save water and energy in your home: Fixing leaks; taking short showers instead of baths; washing only full loads of dishes and clothes (and using cold water); turning off the tap while brushing your teeth; using power strips for electronics and turning them off when not in use; and replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs or LEDs, among other things.

The question is: How many of these changes have you made?

- Darkharp says he makes 85 percent of his own power using solar panels; uses renewable wood to heat his home, and telecommutes, thereby reducing gas consumption and pollution from his car.

- Graeme Jones, 49, a computer analyst in Marietta, Georgia, recycles all his plastic, cardboard, glass, junk mail, tin food cans, aluminum cans and styrofoam. The bulk of his mail goes into a paper shredder and is recycled with yard waste into compost for his garden. He also diverts the water from his washer, shower, and AC to water his trees in the dry months. He said saving money was the primary reason for the changes, but also, "I don't like things going to the landfill that can be used again."

- Jeff Lytle, a software company owner in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, says his family doesn't want to use any more oil than can what be produced domestically. So he and his wife are building their "green dream home" complete with concrete exterior walls, ENERGY STAR appliances, geothermal heating and air conditioning, reclaimed hardwood floors, countertops made from recycled glass and concrete and other features. He says construction costs are comparable to less-energy-efficient homes in the neighborhood. He is chronicling the process on his blog green-dreamhome.com.

"I don’t think the government’s ever going to solve the energy problem. I think it’s up to individuals to do that," he said.

FULL POST

November 16th, 2010
02:16 PM ET

iReport daily challenge: #BeAHero for the hungry

Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at CNNHeroes.com.

U.S. hunger remains at its highest levels in 15 years.

According to a Department of Agriculture report released Monday, 17.4 million families - nearly 15 percent of U.S. households - lacked money to feed one or more of their family members in 2009.

But it’s easy to feed the hungry without spending a lot of money.

We’ve been offering tiny things that you can do to make the world a little better. For the next “Be A Hero” challenge, we’re starting a virtual food drive on iReport.

1. Scour your cabinets for canned goods or other non-perishables you aren’t planning to eat.

2. When you go grocery shopping, drop a few extra pantry staples in your cart. It doesn’t have to cost anything if you pick buy one, get one free items.

Many supermarkets have drop-off points for food bank donations during this season. If you can’t find one, visit Feeding America to find a food bank near you.

Before you drop off your donation, snap a photo and upload it to iReport with your story of how you helped fight hunger this season.

November 15th, 2010
03:51 PM ET

iReport #BeAHero challenge: Reconnect with an old friend

Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at CNNHeroes.com.

It’s a big day in the world of social networks and online communication.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday announced the site is overhauling its messaging system to help users communicate faster and more seamlessly with their friends, including those not on Facebook.

Meanwhile, AOL has revamped its fading email service with a new product called Project Phoenix.

And a new photo-sharing site called Path, a social network with a 50 friends limit, hit the iPhone app store today.

All of these services are designed to help you better connect with the people in your life.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been offering tiny “Be A Hero” challenges you can do to make the world a little better.

Today, we challenge you to check in with an old friend, colleague or relative you haven’t talked to in a while. Whether it’s by Facebook, email, Twitter, text, a brand-new tool or an old one – like the telephone – just let someone know you’re thinking of them.

Feel free to let us know how it went in the comments below.


Filed under: #BeaHero • TV-CNN Heroes
November 12th, 2010
03:53 PM ET

iReport #BeAHero challenge: Be kind to a stranger

Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at CNNHeroes.com.

A few hours ago, iReporter Miguel Rezende in Lisbon, Portugal, sent us a touching story today about a local man who spent hours each day on one of the biggest avenues in Lisbon, smiling and waving goodbye to people passing by on foot or by car.

In the beginning, people thought he was "not lucid," Rezende said. But they came to know him as just a shy, lonely man, looking for companionship. (You can see him in action and talking about his life in a short documentary that local film students made a few years ago, with English subtitles.)

João Manuel Serra, or “Senhor do Adeus” as he was known, died on Wednesday at the age of 80, after at least 15 years of waving to people. The local evening news did a story about him, and in his tribute, on Thursday, hundreds of fans went to the spot where he usually stood, Rezende said. They also created a Facebook page for him that has nearly 13,000 fans.

"It was very emotional to see so many people missing him," Rezende said. "This person made a lot of people happy when he was there."

We've been offering tiny "Be A Hero" challenges that you can do to make the world a little better.

For the next one, take a page from Mr. Serra’s life and reach out to a stranger. Wave, smile, say hello, or strike up a conversation with someone you’ve never met. Feel free to tell us about it in the comments below, or on iReport.

"Maybe if we would do that more often, we would surprise ourselves to find that the stranger is actually a very nice person," Rezende said.


Filed under: #BeaHero • TV-CNN Heroes
November 10th, 2010
03:45 PM ET

iReport daily challenge: #BeAHero for veterans

Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at CNNHeroes.com.

On Thursday, Americans pay tribute to the veterans who have served during war or peacetime and continue to do so.

CNN has been offering daily challenges we can each do to make the world better. For the next one, we invite you to “Be A Hero” for our military heroes.

Salute a family member, friend or neighbor who is currently in the military or has served, by doing one or more of the following:

-Thank them for their service in person
-Send them an email
-Post a message on their Facebook page
-Send a Tweet with the hashtag #BeAHero.

We’d love to hear what you did in the comments below, or on iReport.

November 9th, 2010
03:52 PM ET

iReport daily challenge: #BeAHero for the climate

Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at CNNHeroes.com.

In a couple of weeks, mayors from cities around the world will convene at the World Mayors Summit on Climate in Mexico City to pledge their commitment to combating global warming.

Over half of the world's population now live in cities, writes CNN’s Matthew Knight, and they have “an enormous power to demand of their local governments an improvement in their climate policy," says Anke Stoffregen, communications manager for ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, a partner in the conference.

So what are mayors doing to make their cities more livable? What role are they playing in the struggle against global warming?

For the next couple of weeks, we're offering tiny things that you can do to make the world a better place.

Today's "Be A Hero" challenge: Hold cities accountable for climate change.

Record a question for the mayors on video and upload it to iReport or submit a text question in the comments here.

Then we'll get answers. The best questions will be asked at the conference, and the answers will be turned into highlights for CNN International TV and CNN.com/environment.

November 8th, 2010
01:16 PM ET

iReport daily challenge: #BeAHero for healthy kids

Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at CNNHeroes.com.

[Updated 11/8/10 at 12:10 p.m. ET ]

In response to yesterday’s challenge to “Be a hero for healthy kids,” we got tons of great suggestions for healthy kids’ snacks and meals. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Here are a few highlights:

-Dehydrated apples, bananas and tomatoes. "My baby granddaughter is almost two years old and she loves the fruit. It's about the only way she will eat fruit right now, besides baby food." –iReporter KCRep

-Red, White & Green Pizza Pinwheels: Whole wheat tortillas, marinara sauce, low-fat mozzarella cheese, fresh spinach. “Layer the sauce, spinach and mozzarella onto the tortilla, roll tightly and slice into toddler-size pinwheels." -Livsmum07

-Chicken pitas: Shredded chicken, sliced cherry tomatos, spinach leaves, sliced sweet peppers, bean sprouts, and a chipotle hummus all stuffed into a pita pocket. -KJ

-Fruit and veggie smoothies: “Bananas, strawberries and blueberries as a base, with Greek yogurt and then some carrots and spinach. The key is to balance the fruits with the veggies. I've never had a complaint about the smoothie yet.” -Katyna

-Peanut butter happy face sandwiches: "A tablespoon of peanut butter spread on whole grain, then add a face: apple slices lips and ears, banana slices eyes with raisin pupils and eyebrows, a baby carrot halved for a nose. Let the kids make their own combos, just provide the face parts as above. Other good face parts are orange slices, sliced pears, shredded cabbage or coconut (nice hair), celery sticks, nuts, craisins, dried cherries, apricots, figs, prunes. Just tell them to choose carefully that they have to eat whatever they pick!" -Cindy Lou

-Jazzed up popcorn: 1 bag unflavored popcorn, 1 cup trail mix, 1/2 cup coconut, salt to taste – Jill

-"My kids could live happily with quinoa in every meal. I make it in veggie or chicken broth seasoned with garlic & cumin. Add garbanzo, tomatoes, bell pepper or eggplant for variety." -@Denicalifornia

For more ideas, check out these healthy-food sites from our readers:

http://www.10buckdinners.com

http://www.healthykiddosnacks.com

http://healthnutfoodie.blogspot.com

FULL POST

November 5th, 2010
10:49 AM ET

iReport #BeAHero challenge: Fall back, give back

Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at CNNHeroes.com.

The clock gets rolled back an hour on Sunday for most of the United States and Canada with the end of daylight saving time.

If you’re like most of us, you’ll spend the extra hour on your pillow.

Here’s another idea: Use that hour to do something good.

It may not sound like much, but giving just an hour of your time can make a real difference in the world, whether it’s picking up trash at your local park, registering participants in a charity walk, volunteering at your child’s school or knitting a cap for a cancer patient.

Your challenge: Make a plan to volunteer one hour this month. Check out DoSomething.org and VolunteerMatch.org for opportunities in your area.

You don't even have to leave your house. Visit the United Nation's Online Volunteering program to learn how you can share your skills from a computer anywhere in the world.

Let us know what you’re planning to do in the comments below, or share your experience on iReport.

November 4th, 2010
11:00 AM ET

iReport daily challenge: #BeAHero for emergencies

Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at CNNHeroes.com.

[Updated, 4:40 p.m.] Thanks to everyone who participated in today's "Be A Hero" challenge to ICE your phone. A special shout-out to commenter Summaiyah, who told us, "I had never even heard of the ICE strategy, but just added it onto my phone. I've always just added 'HOME' to my contacts, but this idea sounds a lot better."

We were also happy to hear from a bunch of folks who ICE'd their phone a long time ago - including CNN iReport Facebook fan Diane Kukal-Arnold, who wrote:

"I learned about the ICE, added it to my phone, and now my kids have it on theirs too, also told all my Facebook friends about it too! We laugh that my husband is 'ICE Brian,' or when we're teasing him about his title, it's 'Ice Ice Baby.'"

Check back tomorrow for the next "Be A Hero" challenge.

FULL POST

October 29th, 2010
02:58 PM ET

iReport challenge: #BeAHero for democracy

Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at CNNHeroes.com.

Republicans and Democrats are hitting the campaign trail for a final weekend before Tuesday’s midterm elections.

For your next #BeAHero challenge, be a hero for democracy and join the political conversation.

You have a few days left to finish the special assignments in the iReport Election Project. Download the free CNN Election App for Android, BlackBerry, and iPhone and iPod Touch and help us take the political pulse of the country.

If you don't have the app, you can still participate. On Election Day, post a photo or video of your voting experience to iReport.

Then follow the races that matter to you. For complete political coverage, bookmark CNNPolitics.com.

October 28th, 2010
10:29 AM ET

iReport daily challenge: #BeAHero for humor

Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at CNNHeroes.com.

The Internet is buzzing about U.S. President Barack Obama’s interview on “The Daily Show” with comedian Jon Stewart last night - the first sitting U.S. president to appear on the late-night comedy show.

Stewart reserved most of the 30-minute interview for serious questions about Obama’s on healthcare and the economy, but there were some lighter moments, like when he called the President of the United States “dude.”

We all need a little laughter in our lives. And it’s even good for our health. Studies have indicated laughter can decrease the hormones that regulate stress, lower blood pressure and boost immune function. 

Today, “Be A Hero” for humor and share your favorite joke, funny story or laugh-out-loud video. Spread the joy in the comments below or on Twitter using the hashtag #BeAHero.

October 27th, 2010
10:31 AM ET

iReport daily challenge: #BeAHero for animals

Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at CNNHeroes.com.

A fifth of the world’s mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish are at risk of disappearing, according to a new study released at the United Nations biodiversity summit in Nagoya, Japan.

But the study also shows that conservation efforts are working. The findings show that the loss of biodiversity would be at least 20 percent higher without worldwide conservation efforts.

Today, “Be A Hero” for animals.

- Check out CNN’s list of conservation organizations that are working to protect wildlife habitat, and learn what you can do. Whether you care about sharks, tigers or frogs, there is a nonprofit dedicated to saving them.

- Donate $5 to one of the groups or sign up for one of their newsletters to learn more about what they are doing to stop species extinction.

- Make plans to visit a wildlife park, zoo or aquarium, and see what animals need protecting. Find one in your area at The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Then tell us what you did, in the comments below, on iReport or on Twitter using the hashtag #BeAHero.

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Filed under: #BeaHero • Animals • Environment • TV-CNN Heroes
October 26th, 2010
11:21 AM ET

iReport challenge: #BeAHero for clean water

Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at CNNHeroes.com.

An outbreak of cholera in Haiti has killed more than 250 people and sickened thousands.

The culprit: Contaminated drinking water.

Worldwide, the water crisis is huge. Nearly a billion people lack access to safe drinking water. That’s one in eight of us.

You’re probably not one of them. Be thankful, and for today’s "Be A Hero" challenge, do something today to protect the resource for yourself and others:

1. Get informed about the work being done to provide clean water to people around the world. Watch this piece about 2009 CNN Hero Doc Hendley's work to provide clean water to Haitians through his organization Wine to Water. And this video about actor Matt Damon's visit to a hand dug well to see the daily struggle to find water in Ethiopia. (Damon is co-founder of Water.org, a U.S.-based nonprofit providing safe drinking water and sanitation to people in developing countries.) '

2. Do one thing to conserve water today. Turn the water off when you brush your teeth tonight. Take a shorter shower, and while you’re doing that, place a bucket in the shower to catch excess water and use it to water the plants later.

Then tell us about it, either in the comments below, on iReport or on Twitter using the hashtag #BeAHero.

October 25th, 2010
11:10 AM ET

iReport challenge: #BeAHero for your sanity

Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at CNNHeroes.com.

Could meditation make us nicer?

Researchers at Emory University have been studying how an ancient Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice may help reduce stress, improve the immune system's response to stress, and even make us more compassionate. Preliminary results of the study were presented to the Dalai Lama at the Compassion Meditation Conference last week.

The Chart and Belief blogs are focusing on various aspects of meditation this week, starting with a primer on how to do it.

Today's "Be A Hero" challenge is simple:

Wherever you are, sometime today, take five minutes to focus on your breathing.Even if you're not in a quiet place, try not to think about anything except your breath for as many breaths as you can. You don't have to change  your breathing - just be aware of how it feels.

Let us know how it went in the comments below, on Twitter using the hashtag #BeAHero, or send us an iReport. For those of you who have been meditating for a long time, we'd love to hear if you have experienced long-term benefits.

October 22nd, 2010
11:33 AM ET

iReport challenge: #BeAHero for the homeless

Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at CNNHeroes.com.

Today’s “Be A Hero” challenge comes from a story by CNN’s Christopher Dawson on ‘out-of-the-box’ shelter solutions for the homeless.

As Dawson writes, when the weather turns cold, there are always pleas from shelters for blankets and warm clothes to help homeless people.

But some iReporters have come up with less predictable ways to help the homeless.

Tina Hovsepian devised an origami-style shelter out of cardboard that can be easily folded and carried. Another group in California, Everyone Deserves a Roof, has come up with a four-wheel pushcart that transforms into a one-person tent at night.

Have you helped make a positive change in the lives of those who need shelter? Share your story about how you can be a hero for the homeless in the comments below, Tweet about it with the hashtag #BeAHero or submit an iReport to CNN’s Impact Your World.

October 21st, 2010
04:55 PM ET

iReport challenge: #BeAHero for a rainy day

Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at CNNHeroes.com.

[Updated at 4:55 p.m.] Today's challenge to save $1 got lots of reactions. Some said they’re already “scraping the bottom of the barrel" or that we should be spending to stimulate the economy, not saving. 

But others took the challenge, and we’d like to recognize a few:

Susan Bush drank water from the office today instead of buying soda and tea.

JayInAtlanta turned off the lights in his home office, used only natural light, opened the windows to keep the temperature moderate without heating or air, and unplugged his cell phone charger.

“I'm hoping it saved me even more than $1 on the electricity bill,” he wrote.

Our favorite story of the day comes from iReporter Sherbien Dacalanio, 27, a freelance TV producer and coffee addict in the Philippines. Dacalanio budgets 500 pesos (about $11.50) per day for his caffeine fixes – 4 to 5 coffees from one of his favorite coffee shops – but today, he bought a box of 10 instant coffee packets for just 47.50 pesos (about $1).

The savings were big, he said, even when taking into account that “I need to combine 2 sachets of the instant coffee to replace the taste of brewed coffee that I always crave.”

Others suggested we’ll only hurt the economy more by cutting our spending.

Susie wrote: “Saving that dollar will simply provide more layoffs as businesses or transportation or etc. do not get the revenue… I would propose spending that dollar more wisely, supporting small local businesses or healthier foods or something leading to energy conservation.”

FULL POST

October 18th, 2010
10:30 AM ET

Your iReport challenge: #BeAHero for charities

STOP what you’re doing. This is about YOU. I know you read news, and I know you feel happy on the days when miners are freed in Chile, concerned when a kid is missing and sad when tragedy strikes.

But YOU also make news every day. Hopefully not the kind to appear on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, but you change the world around you. And, through Thanksgiving, we are using what’s new and what’s buzzing to ask you to make it a better place. We have one task for you: Be A Hero.

Each day, we will offer one simple challenge that you can do to be a hero in your own life.

Here's your first challenge:

Donations to the country's 400 biggest charities plunged last year by 11 percent, the worst decline since the Chronicle of Philanthropy started ranking the fundraising organizations two decades ago.

Here's what you can do: By 3 p.m. EST today, contribute $5 to the cause of your choice. Check out CNN's list of ways to help, or pick another organization that is important to you.

Then tell us about it. You can post your response in the comments here, tweet what you did with the hashtag #BeAHero or send us an iReport about your experience. Which organization did you choose? Why?

Check back here in the evening, when we will post a roundup of the most standout daily heroics.

September 23rd, 2010
09:19 AM ET

And the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 are ...

CNN's Anderson Cooper revealed the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 at 1 p.m. Thursday.

A Scotsman providing free daily meals to 400,000 children, a former child soldier clearing land minds in Cambodia and a Texas builder giving injured vets mortgage-free homes are among the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010.

The top 10 - remarkable individuals nominated by viewers for their sacrifices and accomplishments - were revealed by CNN's Anderson Cooper at 1 p.m. Thursday on CNN.com.

This year marks CNN's fourth annual global search for everyday individuals changing the world. Since January, the network has aired weekly profiles of CNN Heroes, chosen from more than 10,000 nominations submitted by viewers in 100 countries.

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