Better Believe It......Because They Actually Happen(ed) Collection 50

Quaden Bayles: Bullied boy's family turns down trip to Disneyland

Over A$470,000 has been donated by the family of Quaden Bayles (L), who has been bullied at school for his dwarfism

The family of an Australian boy who gained global fame in a viral video after he was bullied have turned down a crowdfunded trip to Disneyland and vow to give the money to charity instead.

Yarraka Bayles posted a clip of her son, Quaden, crying after he was targeted at school for his dwarfism.

More than $308,000 (£240,000) has since been given to an online campaign.

His family told local media that they were touched by the gesture, but wanted to focus on "the real issue".

"This little fellow has been bullied. How many suicides, black or white, in our society have happened due to bullying?," his aunt, Mundanara Bayles, told NITV.

The video of Quaden crying has been viewed millions of times online

The family said they wanted to give the money to two charities: Dwarfism Awareness Australia, and the Balunu Healing Foundation.

They said they were also in discussions with Brad Williams, a US comedian who started the campaign on GoFundMe, and who has the same dwarfism condition of Achondroplasia."

Full story at BBC News (February 2020)

Spike in bullying reported at schools amid coronavirus fears

In this March 7, 2020, photo, a swing sits empty on a playground outside a school in Providence, Rhode Island, that closed after coronavirus fears. The superintendent of Portland Public Schools Xavier Botana issued an anti-bullying letter to the faculty and school community warning that concerns over the virus had contributed to bullying and harassment over "students, staff and community members perceived to be of Chinese American or Asian descent."

By Nick Schroeder

PORTLAND, Maine — Portland Public Schools Superintendent Xavier Botana issued a letter to faculty and other school officials this week, warning that concerns over the spread of the new coronavirus, known as COVID-19, is leading to an increase in bullying and harassment in schools.

The superintendent’s letter echoes a statement published last week by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which said some are turning “toward racial or ethnic stereotypes” as fears of the virus spread globally.

In his letter, Botana called for “everyone’s help in combating another problem related to COVID-19: stereotyping, harassment and bullying of students, staff or other community members perceived to be of Chinese American or Asian descent.”

Botana did not cite any specific incidents in the school system. He said there is no programming currently planned in the district on the issue of bullying. Approximately 5.5 percent of students in the roughly 2,000-student district identify as Asian.

The respiratory pathogen was first identified during an outbreak in Wuhan, China, in late December and has since spread to 81 countries, including the United States. Concentrations of people who have tested positive for the virus are in California, New York City, and King County, Washington.

Full story at The Bangor Daily News (March 2020)

Asian Students Left Terrified After Racist Attack Over Coronavirus

By Josh Butler

The University of Melbourne’s Vice-Chancellor has condemned a recent attack on two international students who were told to ‘get out of our country’, labelling it a “disgusting disgrace”.

The young students were walking in the vicinity of Elizabeth St in Melbourne's CBD, at about 5.30 pm on Wednesday, when they claimed they saw a group of young women abusing some other people.

"They were yelling 'get out of our country' at the other group. It wasn't directed at us, but then we made eye contact and they started saying it to us," one of the students told 10 daily.

Images of an alleged racist assault in Melbourne.

The two women, who declined to give their names due to fear of reprisal, said they were from countries in southern Asia.

Both said they have been studying at the university for several months.

On Friday, the university released a statement condemning the incident as "disgusting and unprovoked" and said it was providing support to the students.

"These senseless and vicious attacks on two young women must never be tolerated in our community," Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell said in a statement.

"The people who did this are a disgrace."

Speaking to 10 daily, the students claimed they have already been abused three times in recent weeks with COVID-themed taunts, including people fake coughing on them or yelling 'coronavirus'.

"This is something nobody should experience," one of the students said.

Full story at 10 Daily (April 2020)

Kids Questioned An MP About Coronavirus. Here's What Happened

By Victoria Richards

When will schools reopen? How is the government keeping vulnerable people safe? And why are some housing estates better looked after than others?

These were some of the questions asked by four children who quizzed their local MP on a Zoom call this week – as they shared what’s bothering them most during the coronavirus pandemic and what it’s like living in lockdown.

Liz Twist, Labour MP for Blaydon, asked some of her very youngest constituents to join her for an online Q&A – which she dubbed Kids’ Question Time – to share their stories and ideas for coping with changed circumstances.

Earlier this month, the North East Child Poverty Commission drew attention to the challenges of school closures, social isolation and financial pressures on families in the region since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.

“Many children will be feeling deeply unsettled right now,” said Twist. “They may be seeing less of their parents if they are a key worker and won’t be spending as much time outside or with friends. Children may now be isolated from their usual support systems.”

Unsurprisingly, top of the agenda on the Friday morning video call was the question of when kids will get to go back to school.

“I can’t give you a set time,” Twist said, responding to Shevanewe, eight, who asked when he and fellow Kids’ Question Time participants Zoe, 11, and Alfie and Jack, both eight, might be able to return to lessons together.

“I think it’s got to depend on how things are going and how the coronavirus is spreading,” she added. “It’s a difficult decision to be made, but obviously it’s got to be balanced by your need to get a good education.”

Full story at Huffington Post (April 2020)

'NASA scholarship': Student claims he could have been scammed

The story unfolded several days ago when Muhammad Azhar Ali shared several screenshots exclaiming in disbelief that he scored in the top 1 percent of over 3 million participants of a "2020 Nasa Artemis Challenge". Pic courtesy of Muhammad Azhar Ali Twitter

KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian student who allegedly entered a NASA challenge and won a scholarship from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration from the United States today claimed he could have been the victim of a scam.

The story unfolded several days ago when Muhammad Azhar Ali shared several screenshots exclaiming in disbelief that he scored in the top 1 percent of over 3 million participants of a "2020 NASA Artemis Challenge".

Based on his score of "96.77 percent", he received an e-mail from one Rene A Holland of NASA, offering him a scholarship in affiliation with the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Azhar received many praises and congratulatory messages, including from Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as well as Science, Technology and Innovation minister Khairy Jamaluddin.”

A segment of Malaysian Twitter users however took a more cautious approach and began to look into the alleged scholarship offer.

The unclear nature of the challenge he participated in, coupled with the grammatical mistakes and typographical error in his "Nasa certificate" which also named him as Nasa's "citizen scientist" raised eyebrows.

After backlash, Azhar took to making his Twitter account private.

Full story at New Straits Times (May 2020)

Robots replace university students in Zoom graduation ceremony

Newme telepresence robots stand in for university students at graduation, due to concerns over the coronavirus in Japan.

Students attend graduation at BBT University in Japan via telepresence robots.| BBT University

By Bonnie Burton

Can't be at a big life event because of the coronavirus? Send in the robots. These Japanese university students refused to let the coronavirus lockdowns get in the way of celebrating their graduation ceremony.

Business Breakthrough (BBT) University graduate students in Tokyo, who weren't allowed to have a traditional graduation ceremony due to coronavirus concerns, used Newme telepresence robots (also referred to as avatar robots) to stand in their place.

Digital tablets were attached to the heads of the robots, showing the faces of students who used a Zoom conference call to attend the graduation ceremony remotely. The event took place at the Hotel Grand Palace in Tokyo on March 28, according to Business Insider on Sunday.

Keeping in theme, the robots were also dressed in black hats and gowns for the graduation ceremony.

BBT University President Kenichi Omae poses with the students who are using telepresence robots to attend graduation.| BBT University

One of the unnamed students said in a statement on March 31, "When I enrolled, I never thought I would operate my avatar and attend the graduation ceremony. However, receiving a diploma in public is a novel experience."

The Newme telepresence robots aren't just useful for attending graduations, they also come in handy if you want to travel without leaving home.

Full story at CNET (May 2020)

Chinese girl, seven, has to study UNDER her parents' market counter every day as they sell cooked dishes to customers after her school was closed due to coronavirus

• A pupil in Hubei is forced to study in a small space under her parents' food stall
• Touching images show the seven-year-old doing homework in the dark corner
• She has been studying like this since her parents resumed working last month
• It enables her mother to look after her and trade in the market at the same time

By Emilia Jiang

A seven-year-old girl in China has been forced to study in a cramped corner under her parents' market stall after her school was closed due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The year one student, Ke Enya, has been doing her homework in the makeshift study for over a month after her vendor parents resumed their business in a wet market in Hubei province.

Enya's mother, Zhao Weiwei, let her daughter attending online classes in the noisy market so that she could help with Enya's schoolwork while managing the business.

A seven-year-old girl in China has been forced to study in a cramped corner under her parents' market stall after her school was closed due to the coronavirus lockdown

The year 1 student, Ke Enya, has been doing her homework in the makeshift study for over a month after her vendor parents resumed their business

Touching images showed the little girl taking school lessons online with her laptop and naked light bulbs in the confined space under the market stall in the outskirt of Yichang city, Hubei province.

Enya said that the makeshift study boarded up by the metal counter is hardly comfortable.

'I would hit my head when I look up sometimes, it is very painful,' the girl said.

The little girl also said that her eyes often felt painful after studying in the cramped space for long hours.

'The worst part is that I can't go out to play. My mother wouldn't let me.'

Full story at Daily Mail (May 2020)

Chinese students die after running in masks

Students wear face masks at school in China this week. / Xinhua/Ou Dongqu

By Park Si-soo

Two Chinese teenagers died of sudden cardiac arrest last month after running while wearing face masks during physical education classes.

Chinese education authorities reportedly have cancelled running events for this term after tentatively concluding that wearing masks during physical education (PE) caused the deaths.

The deaths happened in Henan Province on April 24 and in Hunan Province on April 30. According to reports, both students "suddenly" collapsed and died on their schools' running tracks.

The father of one victim said after watching CCTV footage of his son running laps, "He was wearing a mask and, then he suddenly fell backwards and hit his head on the ground.

"It was sunny and their PE class was in the afternoon when it was at least 20 degrees Celsius. It couldn't have been comfortable wearing a mask while running."

Full story at The Korea Times (May 2020)