Good news Thursday: Inmates receive education, turtles rescued from cold


Juvenile prisoners receive education

Inmates sitting inside a room, watch a recorded music lesson in Avlona prison. With Greece’s schools shut due to the pandemic, all lessons have gone online. So the Avlona Special Youth Detention Cente found away to virtual learning even with all internet devices banned by law from the cells. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Young men ages 18-25 can be seen watching a televised education program cell to cell in the Avlona Prison north of Athens. Men follow along making purses out of newspaper, learning the basics of math, exploring science and more. The program was a long process in the making. When the pandemic began, Greece’s schools were moved online, but the students of Avlona Special Youth Detention Center did not have access to electronics and the teachers had no experience setting up a TV channel. This did not stop the school’s director Petros Damianos.

Technician friends of Damianos told him what supplies he needed. The school’s music teacher used his limited knowledge from doing tech during theater productions, combined with subsidized knowledge from Youtube to put the production together. Using donated and secondhand equipment they assembled what they needed to make a broadcast just one month after the idea was pitched. The teachers now pre-record their lectures in a former classroom in the prison and stream the lessons for 24 hours. Six hour lesson plans are streamed on a loop from Monday to Friday and an eight hour loop is streamed on the weekends. For the prisoners, it is a way to feel like they are back to normal life again. 

“School is something different. It’s a bit more human than the rest of the prison,” M.S., a 21-year-old who earned his high school diploma in Avlona, told the Associated Press. “We come here and we joke around with our teachers. They take care of us…. It’s a bit like a family.”

Texans rescue turtles from the cold

Thousands of Atlantic green sea turtles and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles suffering from cold stun are laid out to recoverat the South Padre Island Convention Center on South Padre Island, Texas. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald via AP)

During the winter weather and power outages across Texas, people came together to help those even more helpless: sea turtles. Thousands of Atlantic green sea turtles and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles suffered from cold stun, a condition caused by cold environments that slow down the turtles and prevent them from migrating to warmer waters. When Sea Turtle Inc. began to run out of room to house sea turtles, South Padre Island Convention Center stepped in. 

People come by almost every 15 minutes to drop off turtles according to Ed Caum, executive director of the South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau. He told the Associated Press that people brought truckloads of turtles to the convention center, hauling in upwards of 100 turtles to save. So far, 3,500 turtles have been collected. Though some turtles may not be saved, the volunteers hope to do all they can to help them recover. “We’re trying to do the best we can to save as many turtles as possible,” Ed Caum told the Associated Press.

‘One Good Thing’ does good

Marjan Martin Curtis poses at her home in Spanish Fork. The 79-year-old widow, who has Stage 4 cancer, formed a fast and unlikely friendship with Amy Baird after Baird spotted Curtis’ gorgeous gardening efforts along a nearby county road. (AP Photo/Jeff Swinger)

The majority of the stories summarized for Good News Thursday come from the Associated Press’ ‘One Good Thing.’ The response to the articles written have been an outpouring of love and support. From a Texas principal running a free school grocery store getting talk show requests for his students to a New York City initiative to get meals to Holocaust survivors receiving thousands of dollars in donations, the articles that reported on good things created even better things.

One response came from Marjan Curtis, a 79-year-old widow from St. George battling Stage 4 cancer. Over the years she planted hundreds of tulips along her roadside to spread joy and remember her childhood home of Netherlands, where her family hid Jewish children during World War II. Amy Baird wrote a letter of gratitude to Curtis, creating a fast friendship between the two. After the article published Curtis received messages from long-lost friends who reconnected with her. She also received gifts from strangers, like tulips that change colors in the sunlight from a woman in Florida and a book about a Colorado man’s father who saved Jewish people from Nazis in Amsterdam. “We have to remember that life is precious and wonderful. There is so much beauty everywhere, both nature and people,” Curtis wrote to the Associated Press.

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