It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by everything that’s going on in the news. In a mission to highlight the good out there, we’re rounding up five stories that made us smile this week

1. Dad offers hugs to LGBT+ people at Pride

While fantastic strides forward have been made for LGBT+ rights, many people still find that relationships with their family can become strained when they come out. With this in mind, Howie Dittman was a man on a mission when he attended a Pride parade in Pittsburgh sporting a ‘Free Dad Hugs’ t-shirt.

In support of the Free Mom Hugs organisation – which seeks to help LGBT+ people with temporary financial assistance, resources, and education – Howie gave out hugs to hundreds of people throughout the day.

"Some were super happy hugs," Howie wrote in a Facebook post where he shared photos of him comforting two people who approached him with tears in their eyes. "But others were like these two... And there were way too many like them."

Howie’s actions are a reminder of the work that's still left to be done, but also of the power that we all have to touch lives and spread the kindness and joy that binds us together through thick and thin.

Howie Dittman dag hug at pride

Image | Facebook: @howiedittman

2. NASA plans to put the first woman on the Moon by 2024

50 years after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took steps on the surface of the Moon, NASA has unveiled a programme that will offer the first woman the same opportunity.

Speaking of the scheme – named ‘Artemis’ after the Greek Goddess of the Moon and the twin sister of the God Apollo – NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said: "I think it is very beautiful that 50 years after Apollo, the Artemis program will carry the next man and the first woman to the Moon."

"I have a daughter who is 11 years old, and I want her to be able to see herself in the same role as the next women that go to the Moon."

It may be just one small step for a woman, but it will be a giant leap for womankind.

3. Student who sent dissertation to Sir David Attenborough receives hand-written letter back

Emma Tait letter from David Attenborough

Image | Emma Tait, Twitter: @emma__tait

Writing a dissertation is a momentous achievement in itself, but Emma Tait – an event management student at Liverpool John Moores University – got a happy surprise when she received a hand-written letter from Sir David Attenborough, after she sent him a copy of her work looking at the environmental policies and practices implemented by UK music festivals.

In his letter, Sir David wrote:

‘Dear Emma Tait, Thank you for sending me a copy of your dissertation I look forward to reading it. Yours sincerely, David Attenborough’

"I couldn’t believe it when I received the letter," Emma tells Happiful. "I still can’t, I feel so privileged that he has taken time to write to me and to read my research!"

How’s that for an endorsement? Best of luck for the future, Emma!

4. Singing seals help scientists understand speech disorders

In a tuneful study from the Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI) at the University of St Andrews, researchers have discovered that grey seals are able to copy human sounds.

Throughout the study, scientists worked with three seals, with one seal – named Zola – proving herself particularly good at repeating simple melodies like ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’.

Reflecting on what these soulful seals can teach us, Professor Vincent Janik – Director of the SOI – said: "Finding other mammals that use their vocal tract in the same way as us to modify sounds informs us on how vocal skills are influenced by genetics and learning and can ultimately help to develop new methods to study speech disorders."

With over 250,000 people in the UK living with speech disorders, this news seals the deal on the importance of working with the world around us.

5. Mel B’s hairdresser writes heartfelt post about the power of the afro

Following the close of the Spice Girls' much anticipated comeback tour, Michelle Sultan – a hairstylist working with Mel B – has penned an uplifting post on Instagram celebrating the power of the afro and the effect it has on a young black and mixed-race girls.

"Melanie Melanie Melanie.... well what can I say?” Writes Michelle. “You've inspired a generation of Black and Mixed raced [sic] girls to be fearless with their hair way before this 'natural hair movement' you were doing it back in the 90s!"

"The bigger the afro the more power you have and what a beautiful thing to stand as a black woman watching all those other black woman come to watch the Spice Girls with their afros! I thank you again for this."

Representation: it’s what we really, really want.

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