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Pooja Rai believes all children should have access to a playground where they can let their imaginations run wild, and through Anthill Creations, she's helping make this happen across India. Rai is the founder and CEO of Anthill Creations, and was inspired to start the nonprofit after seeing kids playing with trash and old shoes. "Play shouldn't just be part of a rich, privileged kid's lifestyle," Rai told the Christian Science Monitor. "All kids have a right to enjoy their childhoods." Anthill Creations takes old tires — roughly 100 million are discarded in India annually — and after cleaning them and making sure they are safe to use, transforms them into swings, jungle gyms, tunnels, and sculptures. Since Rai launched Anthill Creations in 2016, the nonprofit has delivered tire playground equipment to 275 schools, public spaces, and refugee camps, and designed play spaces for blind children as well. [Christian Science Monitor]
Southern California's famous Venice Beach will soon be more inclusive, ensuring that all visitors can enjoy the sand and surf. It can be hard to navigate wheelchairs through sand, but a new mesh mat set to be installed at Venice Beach will make it much easier. The Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors is installing an access mat that is semi-permanent and made of a firm nylon mesh, so anyone who needs a harder surface will be able to move across the sand. The mat will be available for use every year, spring through fall. Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl told City News Service one of the "great joys of going to the beach is spending time on the sand near the water. Now, with the use of this new mat, people who have difficulty negotiating the sand can more fully and safely enjoy a glorious day at Venice Beach." [City News Service]
Peter and Veronica Fuchs know how to put on a show, and "Stump the Maestro" is their runaway hit. Peter, 91, is a former composer and conductor, while Veronica, 87, is a retired Broadway singer. They live in a senior community near Miami, and at the beginning of the pandemic, started a Facebook Live show called "Stump the Maestro," streamed daily from their apartment. It started as a way to entertain neighbors, but word soon spread, and viewers now tune in from all over. Each show begins with Peter playing show tunes, and then Veronica fields audience requests — typically jazz standards, Frank Sinatra, and more show tunes. While Peter knows most of them, if he's stumped, he researches the song and plays it the next day. To close out the show, Peter performs his latest composition: "Wear a Mask." Peter told The Associated Press the couple enjoys interacting with their audience, and it's "nice to be able to make people happy." [The Associated Press]
During a walk through her Ottawa neighborhood last month, Clover proved that she is pretty clever, as the dog was able to quickly get help for her owner who had a seizure. Haley Moore and Clover, a Maremma mix, were taking a stroll when suddenly, Haley began to seize. A home security camera recorded Clover looking at Haley, then glancing at a vehicle driving by. Haley was still holding onto Clover's leash, but as the truck approached, Clover broke free and went into the road, forcing the driver, Dryden Oatway, to stop. "It was really impressive, the dog actually blocked my way," Oatway told CTV News. Clover repeated this with another driver, and with the motorists helping Haley, Clover raced home and began barking. Neighbors alerted Haley's dad, and when he found his daughter, she was receiving medical treatment. The family showed Clover their appreciation by treating her to a steak dinner. [CTV News]
During the lavish Golden Pharaoh Parade on Saturday, 22 ancient Egyptian royal mummies made their way across Cairo, traveling from the Egyptian Museum to their new home at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. The 18 kings and four queens — including Seqenenre Tao, Ramses II, and Ahmose-Nefertari — were carefully packed inside special vehicles and capsules filled with nitrogen to keep them protected. Musicians and performers dressed in ancient Egyptian clothing also participated in the televised parade, and after much fanfare, the mummies arrived at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, where cannons fired a 21-gun salute. "By doing it like this, with great pomp and circumstance, the mummies are getting their due," Salima Ikram, an Egyptologist at the American University in Cairo, told Reuters. "These are the kings of Egypt, these are the pharaohs. And so, it is a way of showing respect." The mummies were found in 1871 in Luxor and the Valley of the Kings. [Reuters]