Help raise awareness for World Rare Disease Day.

World Rare Disease Day is February 28, 2018. Show you care by spreading the word.
World Rare Disease Day is February 28, 2018. Show you care by spreading the word.

I learned something important today. This coming Wednesday–February 28, 2018–is World Rare Disease Day.

I wouldn’t have known this had I not walked through Mission Beach’s Belmont Park and met some smiling volunteers. They are working to raise awareness about rare diseases. They had a table set up near the carousel and told me a little about this often overlooked problem.

Rare diseases are usually caused by faulty genes, and about half of the people affected by rare diseases are children. Almost a third of these children will not live to see their fifth birthday.

Sadly, about half of all rare diseases do not have a specific foundation supporting or researching the condition. As you can see, it’s critical for many kids that we spread the word and provide support for those who are sick, and fund research in the search for effective treatments.

Two websites where you can learn more and perhaps help are here and here.

Please click my photo of the information chart, and it will enlarge so you can read it. Feel free to share any of these images.

These cool volunteers at Mission Beach's Belmont Park were informing the public about rare diseases.
These cool volunteers at Mission Beach’s Belmont Park were informing the public about rare diseases.
Rare diseases are often caused by faulty genes. They impact more people than cancer and AIDS combined. Only 5 percent have an FDA approved drug treatment.
Rare diseases are often caused by faulty genes. They impact more people than cancer and AIDS combined. Only 5 percent have an FDA approved drug treatment.
Help fight rare diseases by learning more and spreading the word.
Help fight rare diseases by learning more and spreading the word.

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School children remind people to be kind.

No act of kindness no matter how small is ever wasted.
No act of kindness no matter how small is ever wasted.

Children at a private school in San Diego applied chalk to a sidewalk, reminding people walking by of the importance of kindness.

This simple wisdom makes our lives much happier, and more meaningful.

Smile.
Smile.
Happy Kindness Week!
Happy Kindness Week!
Remember BHAK. Be Happy And Kind.
Remember BHAK. Be Happy And Kind.
Have a nice day!
Have a nice day!
BeYOUtiful.
BeYOUtiful.
If you are kind you will have a happy life!
Two statements of deep wisdom in one heart: If you are kind you will have a happy life! Smile every time, be kind.
Spread love.
Spread love.
Choose kind.
Choose kind.
I hope you have a day as nice as you!
I hope you have a day as nice as you!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Butterfly Project teaches students about Holocaust.

Naomi was born in Prague in 1932. She and her parents were sent by the Nazis to the Theresienstadt ghetto and forced to work. The family was then sent to Auschwitz and at age 12, Naomi was murdered.
Naomi was born in Prague in 1932. She and her parents were sent by the Nazis to the Theresienstadt ghetto and forced to work. The family was then sent to Auschwitz and at age 12, Naomi was murdered.

Today I discovered an inspired project that helps school students learn about the Holocaust, and how to fight injustice and bullying.

The Butterfly Project had a special event this afternoon at the San Diego History Center. By pure chance I saw a sign for the event as I walked through Balboa Park.

Inside the San Diego History Center, I watched as compassionate visitors painted ceramic butterflies–one for each child who perished in the Holocaust.

Then I heard presentations by two speakers who had family members endure the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust. These powerful presentations, complete with photographs and touchable artifacts, are often made to students in school classrooms. The presentations encourage Hope, Optimism, Kindness, Dignity and the Power of One. I learned how there were amazing instances where the courage of one person against brutal Nazis saved many innocent lives in labor and concentration camps.

One person can speak out. One person can take risks for others. One positive person can change many lives.

That one positive person can be you. Please visit The Butterfly Project website.

According to their mission statement, The Butterfly Project is a call to action through the arts, using the lessons of the Holocaust to educate about the dangers of hatred and bigotry through the painting of ceramic butterflies, permanently displayed around the world to memorialize each of the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust.

The Butterfly Project seeks to partner with anyone that has or wants to build a connection to history, honoring those who died in the Holocaust. They want to get their beautiful, symbolic butterflies into schools, museums and community centers. They want to be included in classrooms across the country as an important part of Holocaust and anti-bullying education.

Can you help? Click this link to learn how to get involved.

Will you be that one person who steps forward?

An event to raise awareness about The Butterfly Project was held at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.
An event to raise awareness about The Butterfly Project was held at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.
Ceramic butterflies are painted. Each one symbolizes a young person who died as a result of the Holocaust.
Ceramic butterflies are painted. Each one symbolizes a young person who died as a result of the Holocaust.
Some hands add color to the butterflies.
Some hands add color to the butterflies.
Bronislaw almost escaped the Nazis hidden in a suitcase, then in a backpack. Seven year-old Bronislaw was discovered and shot.
Bronislaw almost escaped the Nazis hidden in a suitcase, then in a backpack. Seven year-old Bronislaw was discovered and shot.
Holding up a labor camp uniform worn during the Holocaust. Presentations made to students bring terrible realities to light, and encourage positive action.
Holding up a labor camp uniform worn during the Holocaust. Presentations to students make the Holocaust real, and encourage positive, compassionate action.
One presentation shows the tragic journey of one man who was sent to multiple concentration camps. He ran into a forest during a forced death march and escaped.
One presentation shows the tragic journey of one man who was sent to multiple concentration camps. He ran into a forest during a forced death march and escaped.
The yellow badge that Nazis forced Jewish people to wear during the Holocaust.
The yellow badge that Nazis forced Jewish people to wear during the Holocaust.
Painted butterflies recall innocent lives lost. With hope, purpose and courage, we can fight inhumanity and teach kindness.
Painted butterflies recall innocent lives lost. With hope, purpose and courage, we can fight inhumanity and teach kindness.

Are you a blogger? Do you want to help make the world a better place? You might want to join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.

Mysterious visions underfoot.

Blue face of a dog, afire with red nightmares, with eyes that are haunting.
A dog’s face–a small work of haunting chalk art.

As I journey through the city I often see mysterious visions underfoot, produced by unknown hands. They are the dreams of wandering souls, made visible.

Dreams of the searchers . . . the restless . . .

Wherever you happen to walk, countless others have walked.

Free Yourself, with a heart.
Free yourself, with a heart.
Grace, on a step among leaves.
Grace, one step up from fallen leaves.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

8 Ways to Fight Human Trafficking in San Diego.

Rachel Thompson of the Junior League San Diego introduces District Attorney Summer Stephan during the Fifth Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Rally.
Rachel Thompson of the Junior League San Diego introduces District Attorney Summer Stephan during the Fifth Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Rally.

Today I walked up to Balboa Park to experience the 5th Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Rally. The event was organized by the Junior League of San Diego, and brought together most of the key players in San Diego’s fight against human trafficking.

While legislative progress has been made in the fight, the terrible problem of human trafficking persists. I learned San Diego sees far too much of this type of crime because of our city’s proximity to the Mexican border and its status as a popular tourist destination.

Many tables were set up at the event containing literature about how concerned citizens can take action. Everyone was encouraged to spread the word and increase awareness and involvement throughout the community.

I thought my blog could possibly provide a bit of help. Here are eight things that you can do to learn about and fight against human trafficking in San Diego:

1. Learn how to recognize victims of human trafficking. The following three photos contain vital information that you can use and share.

A flyer from the Office for Victims of Crime provides key information on human trafficking, including warning signs. (Please click this image to enlarge for easy reading.)
A flyer from the Office for Victims of Crime provides key information on human trafficking, including warning signs. (Please click this image to enlarge for easy reading.)
Information from Homeland Security's Blue Campaign explains the difference between human trafficking and human smuggling.
Information from Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign explains the difference between human trafficking and human smuggling.
A checklist of human trafficking indicators. To report suspicious activity, call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.
A checklist of human trafficking indicators. To report suspicious activity, call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.

2. Support the Alabaster Jar Project. This organization empowers survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. They provide a safe living environment and transitional housing, plus an array of support services and educational opportunities. Located in San Diego’s North County.

3. Become involved with CAT, or Churches Against Trafficking, a network of churches in San Diego that together provide service, resources and prayer to help solve a difficult problem in our community.

Churches Against Trafficking is a network of churches that provide service, resources and prayer in San Diego against human trafficking.
Churches Against Trafficking is a network of churches that have joined together to provide service, resources and prayer in San Diego against human trafficking.

4. Support the Lynch Foundation For Children. They are working to prevent human trafficking through education. They also assist in locating and recovering runaway children, and support victims’ services.

5. Learn about and possibly volunteer with the Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition (BSCC), an alliance of government and nonprofit agencies in the United States and Latin America convened along the U.S.-Mexico Border Region to combat slavery and human trafficking. Their 24-hour Emergency Trafficking Hotline is 619-666-2757. The hotline serves victims of trafficking, community clinics and doctors, social service agencies, concerned citizens and law enforcement personnel.

6. Visit the Sex Trafficking Resource Center page of the San Diego Public Library website and learn more facts about this difficult but very important subject. The web page includes a variety of resources, including helpful links specifically for youth.

7. Visit the San Diego District Attorney’s human trafficking onlineĀ page. It’s a resource that contains a good deal of vital information, including Signs of Human Trafficking, What You Can Do, Community Resources and Safety Tips.

The FBI had literature available concerning human trafficking. The phone number for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center is 1-888-373-7888.
During the event, the FBI offered literature concerning human trafficking. The phone number for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center is 1-888-373-7888.
Can you see her? It's time to open our eyes. Victims of the sex trade, domestic servitude, and forced labor have been invisible, until now.
Can you see her? It’s time to open our eyes. Victims of the sex trade, domestic servitude, and forced labor have been invisible, until now.

8. Check out these other local shelters and organizations. They need mentors, volunteers and resources:

Children of the Immaculate Heart

Generate Hope

Mary’s Guest House

North County Lifeline

PLNU Beauty for Ashes Scholarship Fund

Shining Stars

Salvation Army’s Door of Hope

San Diego Youth Services

These citizens are working to stop human trafficking. Will you join them?
These citizens are working to stop human trafficking. Will you join them?

Are you a blogger? Do you want to help make the world a better place? You might want to join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.

Holiday lights shine brightly at December Nights.

A fun, illuminated snowman in Spanish Village. Festive lights dazzle at 2017 December Nights.
A fun, illuminated snowman in Spanish Village. Festive lights dazzle at December Nights.

Tonight I headed into Balboa Park to enjoy 2017 December Nights.

When its buildings, fountains and gardens are brightly lit after dark, Balboa Park is magically transformed. During the holidays the park seems like a storybook wonderland.

My camera managed to capture a small bit of that magic.

Strings of lights radiate from the center of Plaza de Panama during December Nights.
Colorful strings of lights radiate from the center of Plaza de Panama during December Nights.
The Bea Evenson fountain in the Plaza de Balboa is brightly lit for December Nights.
The Bea Evenson fountain in the Plaza de Balboa is brightly lit.
One of many beautiful Christmas trees on the Spanish Village Art Center outdoor patio.
One of many shining Christmas trees on the Spanish Village Art Center patio.
Dozens of vendors sell gifts throughout Balboa Park during the big annual holiday event.
Dozens of vendors sell gifts throughout Balboa Park during the delightful holiday event.
Roasted nuts are among the traditional holiday treats that visitors enjoy.
Roasted nuts are among the traditional holiday treats that visitors enjoy.
One of many youthful dance groups performing at the Casa del Prado.
One of many youthful dance groups performs at the Casa del Prado.
San Diego's Portuguese community contributed a Christmas tree and royal robe to the December Nights Festival of Trees inside the Casa del Prado.
San Diego’s Portuguese community contributed a Christmas tree and royal robe to the December Nights Festival of Trees inside the Casa del Prado.
The Old Globe Theatre created this very stylish Christmas tree.
The Old Globe Theatre created this very stylish Christmas tree.
The center of December Nights is the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, where joyful entertainment continues into the night.
The center of December Nights is the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, where joyful entertainment continues into the night.
A choir performs holiday songs for a large December Nights crowd.
A choir performs holiday songs for a large December Nights crowd. A scene of amazing beauty.
Getting something to eat or drink at the Gingerbread House.
Getting something to eat or drink at the colorful Gingerbread House.
Scene of Jesus with children in the Nativity along the rear of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Scene of Jesus with children in the Nativity along the rear of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Graceful dancers perform at the International Cottages.
Graceful dancers perform at the International Cottages.
The fun zone in the Palisades area of Balboa Park features brightly lit rides for the kids.
The fun zone in the Palisades area of Balboa Park features brightly lit rides for the kids.
Getting more treats ready.
Getting more treats ready.
The bright Christmas tree at the Old Globe draws the eyes of old and young alike.
The very merry Christmas tree at the Old Globe draws the eyes of old and young alike.
In the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Santa Claus brings a child joy.
In the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Santa Claus brings a child magic and joy.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

A happy story about youth and gratitude.

I believe I finally got it right. My latest short story. For a while it seemed wrong, incomplete.

Returning the Ball is a happy story about youth, youthful optimism, and a heart’s gratitude.

This quick read is likely to make you smile. Perhaps even wipe a tear. Click the above link to read it.

Need something to read this Labor Day? I’ve gradually built a collection of short stories (and a poem) at my blog Short Stories by Richard. These small works of fiction are ideal for a beach read. Or half an hour by the pool.

Enjoy your day and thank you for supporting Cool San Diego Sights! I plan to head up to Balboa Park! What will I discover today? I don’t know!

Richard