In 2014, Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) honored Samantha with the Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC) – a dynamic educational program for middle and high school students designed to build a bridge between the classroom and the world. Several hundred students each year take on the Challenge, becoming curious, knowledgeable, and engaged citizens in the process. SSC projects teach students that, no matter what age, they can be part of solving the challenges and problems they see around them just as Samantha Smith did nearly 40 years ago.
Over 200 students participated in the 2021-2022 Samantha Smith Challenge, focusing on interconnectedness and the common good. Given a year when the pandemic, climate change, global migration, and many other issues have filled and affected our lives, students took these issues out of their separate silos and addressed their interconnectedness and how being connected guides us to work for the common good.
Students addressed how the trees of a forest are a community on which all life depends, mental health, bullying, art for activism, sharing the voices of youth identity with the wider community, support for Ukraine, and building future communities. They shared their projects on zoom for the Samantha Smith Challenge Celebration and heard inspirational words from AWTT artist Robert Shetterly, portrait subject Jaysa Hunter-Mellers, and Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows.
1. Learn Samantha’s story
2. Explore definitions and examples of interconnectedness and the common good
3. Get to know AWTT portraits — Connect with change makers
4. Register for the SSC
5. Complete SSC activities
NOTE: If you haven’t done it already, please read the introduction to this year’s Challenge, including the 2022-2023 calendar, registration forms, and testimonials from former participants.
Each SSC model is listed with a brief explanation and standards from Common Core State Standards, CASEL’s social and emotional literacy standards, and 21st Century Learning Standards.
“Hope is power. Power is hope. The Samantha Smith Challenge helped me feel powerful and hopeful.”