Making A Difference: Will Gilliland

We were able to catch up with Will, a student at MoellerHigh School, and talk about “Working For a Smile”, their Service Challenge Project from 2014. Last time we spoke with Will, “Working For a Smile” was a project in process, now we see how Will and his peers at Moeller took our challenge to create a service project a step further and decided to not only impact their own community, but also the community of Santa Cruz, Peru through “Working For a Smile”.  (You can view their trip below)

What was your biggest take away from the Youth Leadership Seminar?

Will: My biggest take away from the seminar was just the inspiration of seeing other high school students become passionate about doing service work in the community. Seeing my peers come up with great ideas for service pushed me to come up with the most challenging service project possible. The speakers also inspired me to go out and make a difference in someone else’s life as so many have done to me in my own life.

What impact have you seen in your community and school from the Youth Leadership Seminar and from “Working for a Smile”?

Will: I saw a large impact from my school when we raised money through the penny wars because tons of people got involved and I was happy to see the support of my peers and my school. There was also large support from my school to try and win second place in the contest when students used social media to try and win. The Seminar was a great opportunity to raise awareness for service not just domestically but also internationally in my community and my school.

Would you recommend others go to the Youth Leadership Seminar?

Will: Yes, because it engages students in a subject that talks about service to those in need. Whether it is bullying or the homeless there is always someone who needs help and with the great opportunities given to my peers and I by our parents and our schools we have the ability to help others. The Youth Leadership Seminar inspired me to take advantage of these opportunities and it led me to great success with my project.

You were the student leader for the Service Project Challenge.  How did “Working For a Smile” specifically impact your own life?

Will: It impacted my life by forming a sense of work ethic that I never thought I could have before. This project helped me reach my potential and the satisfaction I derived in seeing the respect from the villagers made it so worth it. It helped me form new relationships as well as reestablish old ones and also helped me form new ideals to live by.  This project has changed me as a person greatly and I will never forget the positive impact it had on my life and especially the people we helped.

Check to see if your school is on the list for this year’s Youth Leadership Seminar so your students can make an impact like Will!

Kristin Shaffer
Experience Intern


Have You Started Your #AMFChallenge Yet?!

Are you still feeling sparked  from YLS 2014?? We love that our speaker, Nick Jackson, got the students so excited about the #AMFChallenge! Take a look at what Nick Jackson had to say at the seminar!

We are so pleased that schools have already started their projects and were inspired to make a difference in their communities from listening to Nick Jackson! Here are some schools that took Nick’s advice and have started their projects in full force:

Moeller -“Working for a Smile” – Moeller will be raising money to help a family in Peru have enough money to get pipe-lining in their house. In the long-term they would like to be able to help the whole community with their piping. Moeller is ahead of game, take a look at what they have sent us!

New Miami – “Remembering a loved one” – as the community of New Miami High school mourns the loss of a student they have come together to fundraise and celebrate their students life. On October 27th they started their project by holding a candlelight vigil outside of the high school to remember the student and they will continue to fundraise and hold events in her memory.

Aiken – “Build a School” – Aiken will be taking their project to Sierra Lione, Africa and building a school for the kids there. Starting last week they started a “change4change” penny drive to raise money for their project. They will keep doing fundraising throughout the year to help them work toward their goal of building a school.

Turpin – “Fun with 911” – Turpin’s project will take place on November 25th from 1:15 until about 1:45. They are holding a basketball game where a group of selected seniors will be playing a group of firefighters and police. Students in the building are asked to pay a fee to attend the game and their proceeds will go to the EMS group.

Don’t forget to send us pictures, slide shows, meeting notes, etc. of the things you have been working on! Also, use #AMFChallenge so we can follow along with your project!


Caroline Wydysh

Events Intern