Global Impact Challenge: November Update

In June, No Barriers Youth and Wells Fargo launched an exciting new project: The Global Impact Challenge.

20 middle and high school educators were selected to participate in our very first Global Impact Challenge, a diversity and inclusion competition designed to spark the best ideas from students for building a world free of barriers, stereotypes and discrimination.

The educators joined us at the No Barriers Summit at Lake Tahoe, CA, in June to experience the No Barriers Life and learn about the competiton through a series of workshops. The Summit served as an ideal platform to introduce the challenge and equip teachers with the necessary tools to help students dream big and break down barriers.

Since returning to their classrooms this fall, each educator has been busy organizing teams (at least 6 youth, both with and without disabilities) and generating ideas through hands-on workshops. Each team had until early November to fine-tune their ideas and submit a proposal for an innovative solution that they envision will create lasting impact in the world.

Here are a few updates the teams shared with us during their brainstorming and exploratory sessions!

Infinite Possibilities
Peachtree Middle School | Atlanta, GA
Teacher: Mrs. Hollander

The students came up with multiple differences they have, but they realized that what they had in common was more important that what they didn’t.”

The Avengers
District 86 Bridge Program | Willowbrook, IL
Teacher: Ray Baker

Prior to our last meeting, our no barriers team participated in a team building service -learning trip. Students went to work in our local forest preserve and were able to collaborate with local stakeholders in a non-traditional setting. During the trip students discussed local needs around the area of employment as well as more global ideas of employment for people with disabilities. This outing really helped bring our no barriers team closer and help better shape our goals around figuring employment options for people with disabilities.”

The Avengers Team, District 86 Bridge Program in Willowbrook, IL

The Avengers Team, District 86 Bridge Program in Willowbrook, IL

The Smarticle Particles
William J Johnston Middle School | Colchester, CT
Teachers: Jennifer Karcich and Kristina Ngai

During our first workshop, we had a fire drill and as our group assembled outside, we all had similar thoughts. How do students who struggle with loud noises, issues with touch or lack of understanding of the emergency, effectively get out safely or especially in a lockdown, stay quiet.”

Team Smarticle Particles, William J Johnston Middle School | Colchester, CT

Team Smarticle Particles, William J Johnston Middle School | Colchester, CT

The Knights Who Say We!
Henry W. Grady High School | Atlanta, GA
Teacher: Nadia Goodvin

The things we have in common are that we are all dedicated to the idea of inclusion and diversity at our school. We all also tend to be very art-based thinkers who prefer independent original materials, school work, and experiences over mass produced ones. We want to create something that will last, renew itself, and truly help people with disabilities. The biggest outcome of this workshop are that we saw that our commonalities gave us a backbone to branch off of and that our differences made us stronger because they gave us a huge set of skills and tools to use for this project. Essentially, the more differences–the bigger our toolbox and potential for success as long as we all agree on the goal.”

Students from Grady High School, Atlanta, GA

Students from Grady High School, Atlanta, GA

Team 1: Crossing Guards
Team 2: Barrier Breakers
Century High School | Rochester, MN
Teacher: Mr. Eckerman

Crossing Guards and Barrier Breakers: We started the process by getting to know each other, and getting a sense of what is No Barriers and how we can make the ‘spirit’ part of our school and community.”

Deerpark Middle School, RRISD | Austin, TX
Teacher: Jami Fooshee

Faces dropped after hearing and watching video about Erik Weihenmayer. Students loved learning about him breaking through his own barriers. “I couldn’t do that! And I can see!”
Vision – kiddos were ready to take on discovering more about themselves and each other as a team.
Summit – we plan to reflect on previous meetings and what we’ve gone over, learned, or discovered to enhance or change at the next meeting.
As a team, we are stronger because we have different ideas, open minds, we come from different ethnicities and backgrounds, we have different goals and goals in common for ourselves and for our team, and we are cool enthusiastic 8th graders on a mission to make a difference!”

Team BELIEVE (Deerpark Middle School)

Team BELIEVE (Deerpark Middle School)

The Bettering Bengals
Greensboro Day School | Greensboro, NC
Teacher: Megan Mimms

While working with my group it quickly became apparent that although there was a mix of personalities, we all came together and put our differences aside. Our differences helped us as there was always a different perspective.” – a Bettering Bengal

Bettering Bengals from Greensboro Day School, Greensboro, NC

Bettering Bengals from Greensboro Day School, Greensboro, NC

POW (People Obtaining Wisdom)
Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy | Bronx, NY
Teacher: Carolina Castro-Skehan

Our group includes Seniors concerned with their future – lack of opportunities for minority students ; mainly jobs for teenagers – Lack of helpful information available on how to go about in college – if we are facing this major problem, others are as well – We learned that if we had this information while we had time, we would’ve taken advantage and would’ve saved time, money and would be less stressed – We want to make information more available from experts and/or experienced members.”

Team POW from Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy, Bronx, NY

Team POW from Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy, Bronx, NY

Ogden Owls
Ogden International High School | Chicago IL
Teacher: Matthew Baker

For our project we hope to make a difference in our school community by promoting inclusiveness in sports for all student athletes.”

The Acorns
The Oakwood School | Greenville, NC
Teacher: Keyla Thompson

Many people ignore people with disabilities due to lack of information. Spending time with different people can enrich your life. Being different does not mean that we can’t get along.”

The Acorns, The Oakwood School, Greenville, NC

The Acorns, The Oakwood School, Greenville, NC

Impact 6
Hill Country Middle School  | Austin, TX
Teachers: Ms. Sylvia Troxell and Ms. Kristen Vengler

Interview notes- how to include blind people when presenting pictures or videos disabled family members recounted stories of being afraid as kids special ed. classes with exclusionary in the past. Students felt left out. Adult with Down Syndrome looking for more inclusion generally Families often have a relative with some kind of disability Need more information about invisible disabilities- see notes from Mr. Zemo and Mr. Stein Possible solutions- more talk/teaching about disabilities Possible Organizations to Partner with- National Charity League Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas March of Dime Ways we define disability- Is something that makes things a little hard but isn’t a bad thing. It makes you stronger, smarter, and tougher. In my community, it is “someone can’t do this” but I think it is something you can overcome by adapting. People with disabilities don’t feel different until someone points it out. People with disabilities look on the bright side.”

Impact 6 Team, Hill Country Middle School, Austin, TX

Impact 6 Team, Hill Country Middle School, Austin, TX

The Barrier Breakers!
Ridgewood High School | Norridge, IL
Teacher: Dan Rosenberg

Participants were all incredibly warm and welcoming. Everyone is excited to be a part of the challenge. After watching Erik’s clip they had a rich conversation about determination. After we drew representations of what drives us each day and gets us moving, the shared a range of images that included family, bettering the world, becoming their best selves and making Ridgewood a special place.”

DeForest Area High School | DeForest, WI
Teachers: Briana Gustafson and Amanda Otradovec

One thing we have in common are that we all like music but the kinds of music we like are different. We really liked getting to listen to each other’s music. We all like food, but the foods we like are different. We do all like to eat sweets, though! We all go to DeForest Area High School. We are realizing that we all want to make a difference in our community and, working together, we are coming up with some really great ideas! Our differences help us look at things from different perspectives and our end project idea will be even better because we are all coming at it from different angles.”



The culmination of the Global Impact Challenge is the presentation of project proposals to a panel of evaluators in November. Finalist teams will be awarded prize money in January of 2018, to launch their projects in their local communities. Teams will also have the chance to attend the 2018 No Barriers Summit in New York City.

November 16, 2017
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