At the end of every year, people like to joke about how glad they are that it’s finally ending. A new year represents a fresh start, which can feel great if you’ve just gone through a challenging twelve months. When everyone around you starts making these jokes, it’s easy to get caught up in the feeling. Whether or not you had a bad year, that doesn’t mean that amazing things didn’t still happen.

As 2017 came to a close, a chapter ended on a year filled with social and political turmoil. There were comments all over the internet that people hated 2017, but they overlooked so many of the amazing things that happened!

Now that 2018 is well under way, take a moment to relive some of the great things accomplished in 2017. Put away the bad memories and get cheered up, because 2017 was actually amazing in many ways. In case you missed it, here are some of the awesome things people did that you may have missed.

  1. Subway Riders Threw Graduation Ceremony for Passenger

If you’ve ever ridden on the subway, you know that not only do you get the pleasant experience of being surrounded by impatient people trying to avoid eye contact, but you also know you can’t complain. They’re all impatient for a reason. Subway trains are universally known for having delays and being late, which is why Erich Marco Alcantara left for his graduation from the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing early.

When delays caused him to be late, he thought he might still make it to at least walk the stage, but 45 minutes later, he knew he’d missed the whole event. That’s when passengers around him threw him his own ceremony. It may not have been the morning he was looking forward to, but he got to see the kindness humans are capable of — and he’ll still get his diploma in the mail!

  1. Hurricanes Inspired Heroism

2017 had more than its fair share of natural disasters. Hurricanes Irma, Maria and Harvey devastated people across thousands of miles in what felt like rapid succession. But this didn’t stop goodness from spreading. Celebrity chef José Andrés got kitchens and suppliers together to serve more than 3 million meals to Puerto Ricans who were hit the hardest by Hurricane Maria. In a time where so many people were suffering, these meals helped form a light at the end of the tunnel.

  1. New Gene Therapy Approved for the Blind

While science has improved significantly in the last few decades, there are still some genetic disorders that are untreatable, but researchers just found the fix for at least one of them. Some people are born with the RPE65 gene, which causes them to be blind. Now there’s an approved treatment called Luxturna that’s injected into the eye and replaces the RPE65 gene. For people who have this gene run in their families, this treatment opened a lifetime of opportunities for them.

  1. Religious Groups Help Rebuild Mosque

At the beginning of 2017, the Victoria Islamic Center was found burning on an early January morning. It quickly became national news because it was deemed a hate crime. In a time where people normally responded to crimes by saying that they were sending thoughts and prayers, religious groups around the country went online to donate money to help the mosque get rebuilt. By May, they had broken ground and started building again, all because people put aside religious differences and helped out.

  1. Ozone Hole Shrinks Almost Completely

Back in 1988, climate scientists became aware of a massive hole in the ozone layer that was the size of multiple continents wide. They raised awareness and came up with a plan to shrink it over time, because the hole was allowing harmful UV radiation into our atmosphere and causing the first effects of global warming. As of 2017, the hole has shrunk to almost nonexistence, and scientists expect it to be closed up by 2020.

  1. The Cost of Green Energy Plummeted

Most people agree that we all need to work together to help restore the world’s health. Things like burning coal and CO2 fumes have damaged the earth in many ways, so turning to something like green energy is an easy and obvious way to help out. Until 2017, green energy was seen as expensive, but now it’s dropped in cost by more than 26%. Time to install those solar panels and look into energy efficient cars!

  1. Missouri Teen Fights Community Hunger and Obesity

Sophie Bernstein was a 12 year old kid who wanted to grow her first garden so she could donate to her local food bank. When she did, she noticed how little produce was there for low income residents, so she decided to get involved. Six years later, she’s gotten local daycares and businesses to participate in planting 35 gardens with over 750 volunteers. All the produce that’s harvested is donated to daycares or food shelters to help people in need.

It’s all too easy to get to New Year’s Eve ready to throw away the year that’s passed. A clean slate, much like a new year, is always welcome, but don’t forget to acknowledge the accomplishments that happened during the year you’re leaving. In many ways, 2018 has some big shoes to fill. So get out and do some good!


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About Author

Kate Harveston covers social justice and human rights issues. She graduated with a Bachelors in English and minored in Criminal Justice, so she enjoys writing about anything related to the intersections of law, politics and culture. For more of her writing, you can visit her blog, Only Slightly Biased.

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