2016 Samantha Smith Challenge Participants and Student Reaction

Nine schools and more than 700 students participated in the 2016 Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC). Middle Schoolers from around the state of Maine gathered at Thomas College in Waterville, Maine to share their service projects with each other and to listen to speakers who included Rep. Chellie Pingree, Thomas College president, Laurie Lachance, SSC alum Nick Parker, and the transgender activist and public speaker, Nicole Maines, who was mobbed by the students after her inspiring speech. WABI TV showed up to cover the event

Samantha Smith Challenge 2016 Participants and the Service Projects They Took On

Gorham Middle School:  Child Abuse, Exercise and healthy eating for children, homelessness, Cancer education for kids, Educating people about homelessness, Invasive species, Hunger Waste management, Animal Welfare.

Leonard Middle School:  Poverty, Cyberbullying, Drug Use, Mental Health (Anxiety and Depression), Painting portraits of courageous citizens.

Maranacook Community Middle School:  Foster care, Bullying, Unhealthy school lunches, Drug abuse, Homelessness in Maine, Animal Abuse.

Massabesic Middle School:  Decline in pollinator habitats. (See their work here!)

Mount Merici Academy:  Initiation of service program, Cassidy’s Kids.

Penobscot Community School:  Suicide, LGBTQ Rights, Composting, Self Image, Hunger, Homelessness.

Waynflete School:  Challenges faced by international immigrants.

Bruce M. Whittier Middle School:  Low self-esteem in youth homelessness, Climate change, Homeless animals.

Windham Middle School: Hydroponics, Obtaining a community center for the town of Windham.

A Few Quotes from Students on their SSC Experience:

I would say that service work does something to people that no other experience can give to you. -- Mount Merici

We want to bring attention to the fact that having a roof over your head and food on your table does not always bring happiness. A place like New Beginnings takes care of the homeless youth's physical needs, but we want to take care of these kids' mental health. Although giving money to these organizations is important, it is also important to provide a healthy way for these kids to work through their emotions.  -- Bruce M. Whittier Middle School

We found out that some kids die or get abused really bad in foster care and we thought it was something we could change. -- Maranacook Middle School

We all thought that this was a challenging but fun project.  We learned what it is like to call and interview multiple people from different places. -- Maranacook Middle School

It was a really good experience to be part of the Samantha Smith Challenge and to understand some isues in the world. It was really fun and exciting and it made us feel like we did something good. -- Maranacook Middle School

We enjoyed the Samantha Smith Challenge and learning about our commmunity and learning more about child abuse, like how many child abuse cases are in our own county.  Our group had good teamwork, and we learned more than we ever expected.  We were amazed about how many infants and toddlers were abused every year in Cumberland County.   -- Gorham Middle School

We think this project was really fun and helpful.  We enjoyed working with Preble Street, and it inspired us to do something like this again. -- Gorham Middle School

The project could be stressful at times, but I learned a lot from it.  It was worth it.  It was a great experience. -- Gorham Middle School

We want to bring attention to the fact that having a roof over your head and food on your table does not always bring happiness. A place like New Beginnings takes care of the homeless youth's physical needs, but we want to take care of these kids' mental health. Although giving money to these organizations is important, it is also important to provide a healthy way for these kids to work through their emotions.  -- Bruce M. Whittier Middle School

“I would say that service work does something to people that no other experience can give to you.” -- Mount Merici

Location: Maine
Date: January 16, 2017