Vision 11 min read

7 Things That Happened In 2016 We Can Be Grateful For

Great things have happened this year.

This time of year is always full of reflection for so many of us.

Through the course of 12 months, we encountered things that gave us hope and others that brought worry and concern but, ultimately, the good always outweighs the bad.

2016 is no different in that respect and many events have happened around the world, in small communities and the global front, that we can be grateful for.

1. Advancements were made in ALS treatment thanks to a viral movement.

In July of 2016, researchers sponsored by the ALS Association found the gene NEK1 that is thought to be a major cause of the degenerative neurological disease. Funding for the lab that made the discovery was raised by the 2015 viral movement, the Ice Bucket Challenge, where individuals challenged others to donate funds and drench themselves in ice water to bring awareness to ALS. Genome therapy to treat ALS suffers is on the horizon.

2. The first female African American was elected sheriff in the State of Texas.


While we have broken down many walls across the country, there still exist ones we have not been able to scale. However, we can now declare another barrier demolished. In November 2016, Zena Stephens became the first female African American voted to the position of sheriff in the state of Texas. Voters looked past the biases of gender and race and instead voted with the intent of supporting the most qualified person for the job, making history as they cast their ballots.

3. The first national museum dedicated to African American history opened in Washington DC.


Garnette W. (R): “I just think it’s powerful to be able to walk into a building this large and be surrounded by the his––my surrounded by all of the great––the positive things––as well as maybe some of the challenges a lot of my ancestors have faced in the past. It’s exciting to be here.” Carson G. (L): “I think it’s great to have an opportunity to not only ‘claim’ my history, as a person of African descent, but also realize that it is woven into the fabric of American history. This is a great opportunity because people of all races are out here to celebrate the culture that I celebrate independently. So it’ is very endearing to the American spirit to be able to do that.” #APeoplesJourney #VisitorVoices

A photo posted by NMAAHC (@nmaahc) on


After years of attempting to make this dream a reality, in September of 2016, The National Museum Of African American History and Culture opened to the public in our nation’s capital. The museum celebrates the accomplishments, struggles, and triumphs of African Americans in the United States. The exhibits and installations cover everything from the devastation of the Transatlantic Slave Trade to a photograph of Bishop T.D. Jakes mid-sermon, showing the importance of hope and faith to the African American community.

4. Female athletes captivated the world and inspired a generation of girls.


A photo posted by Simone Biles (@simonebiles) on


The Summer Olympics held this year in Rio, saw a huge amount of women step up in their respective fields and captivate spectators around the world. American gymnast Simone Biles won her 4th gold medal in her sport, inspiring girls all over America to reach for their dreams. Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana won the gold and broke the 23 year standing 10,000m world record. American sprinter Kendra Harrison also broke a long standing record in Women’s 100m hurdles during the Olympic qualifiers. Summer 2016 saw many stars being born.

5. We were reminded that we aren’t alone.

If we are fortunate, we will be reminded that there are people in the world who will have our backs no matter what. This year, a viral video did just that for so many of us. The video showed Mr. Jason Wilson, proprietor of The Cave of Adullam, reminding a young boy in the program that, though he felt the absence of his father, he was not without those who love him. Mr. Wilson assured the young man, Kaden, that it was ok to cry and that there was strength in him he had yet to realize. Mr. Wilson’s words reached into many more lives than the boys he helps with his program.

6. NASA astronauts grew the first plant in space.


Space Flower! NASA astronaut Scott Kelly (@stationcdrkelly), who took over care of the zinnias aboard the space station (@ISS) after the plants weren't thriving from growing procedures on the ground, such as scheduled watering days. Kelly told the ground team., “You know, I think if we’re going to Mars, and we were growing stuff, we would be responsible for deciding when the stuff needed water. Kind of like in my backyard, I look at it and say ‘Oh, maybe I should water the grass today.’ I think this is how this should be handled.” And so, Kelly became an autonomous gardener aboard the space station. Today, the zinnias are thriving! Image Credit: NASA #nasa #space #gardening #flowers #zinnias #iss #spacestation #botany #journeytomars #science #yearinspace

A photo posted by NASA (@nasa) on

They call space the final frontier and as such it is the goal of so many to look to the stars and see the future of mankind. One step towards that possible future happened in January 2016 when the first plant grown in space, a zinnia, sprouted and bloomed. The flower not only represents the possibility of a one day space grown food source for explorers; it is also a reminder that where there is life there is hope.

7. We are showing more care to our Earth.


Where are the tigers at?/ Tigers used to roam across most of Asia, but now they’re restricted to just 7% of their original range in isolated forests and grasslands across 13 countries - the Tiger Range Countries (TRCs). 6 years ago at St. Petersburg, government leaders of the TRCs and the international community came together to commit to a global goal; Tx2. WWF is supporting its ambitious mission of doubling the number of wild tigers worldwide by 2022. This unity has halted the global decline of tigers, but there is still no safe place for them. As we are reaching the halfway point of Tx2 next month, WWF is calling for a stronger support to restore wild tigers’ population through protection, provision, and collaboration. Follow us @wwf_tigers on this journey to protect our tigers! #doubletigers 🐅 x 🐅

A photo posted by WWF Tigers (@wwf_tigers) on

While some looked to the stars, others focused all their energy into making the Earth a better place to live. According to NASA, the hole in the ozone layer is repairing itself thanks to environmental regulations and should be half closed in the next five years. We also saw huge steps in conservation efforts as numbers for tigers, manatees, and wild pandas have increased for the first time since the three have been placed on endangered species lists.

As another year draws to an end it brings the next year to us with fresh possibilities and endless potential for gratitude. We are sure that there will be even more to be thankful for in 2017.

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