JACKSON HOLE, WYO \u2013 Taking a stand for something you believe in takes guts, and these students have what it takes! Kelly Kaiser\u2019s 7th grade class at Jackson Hole Middle School were asked to tackle a problem in the world today and speak out for their \u201cCombat the Silence\u201d project. One component of the project asked students to put themselves out there and to take a risk in order to go out into the community and raise awareness for their problem of choice. This was called their \u201cGuts Factor\u201d and these are some of the highlights: Political Action and Advocacy Beatrix Goldstein and Ella Watkins: LGBTQ Discrimination Beatrix and Ella are an unstoppable team. Determined to build a true culture of acceptance in our community, they chose to fight LGBTQ discrimination on a number of fronts. First, they worked to make the middle school more welcoming by designing a library display highlighting books with LGBTQ protagonists. Next, they teamed up with the JHMS counseling center to explore piloting a middle school chapter of the Gay-Straight Alliance. Finally, inspired to take their fight to the next level, Beatrix and Ella researched laws that address hate crimes and job discrimination based on sexual orientation and contacted both local and state politicians to advocate for better protection for LGBTQ individuals. Jocelyn Gillespie: Child Labor in the Apparel Industry Jocelyn Gillespie is a force to be reckoned with. Alarmed by stories she had heard of child labor in the clothing industry, Jocelyn dug deep with her research. Armed with persuasive facts, she contacted ten different apparel companies to investigate their labor practices and encourage them to source responsibility and not support child labor. Jocelyn was determined to share what she had learned, so she designed a website to publish her findings and encourage others to consider ethical labor practices when choosing the clothing brands they support. Linden Hansen: Gun Violence and School Shootings Linden, like most students her age, has grown up hearing about the horrifying risk of school shootings. Inspired by the countless\u00a0 school children nationwide who have spoken up about the impact of gun violence on their communities, Linden decided to rally her classmates to make their voices heard. She researched a law that is currently being debated around universal background checks for gun buyers and courageously spoke up in front of the entire 7th grade class. Linden encouraged her peers to join her in a letter writing campaign, and ended up collecting and sending over 60 signed letters imploring Wyoming\u2019s state senators to support the background check law. Keane Hultman, Miles Huseby and Owen Strand: Climate Change Talk about guts! Keane, Miles and Owen took to the streets of Jackson to engage total strangers in a courageous conversation about climate change. They encountered a variety of different opinions and viewpoints, and bravely discussed this complex topic armed with thorough research and informative flyers. Although they faced resistance at some points, they soldiered on and worked hard to change minds and raise awareness of the impact of climate change on our world. Fundraising and Volunteering \u00a0 Cecily Ross, Aurora Stiles, and Hailey Stines: Supporting Students with Special Needs Cecily, Aurora and Hailey were inspired to take action in support of students with special needs. After learning more about and visiting with students in the life skills program at the middle school, Cecily, Aurora and Hailey decided to raise money to support Best Buddies and The Special Olympics, two organizations that provide unique opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The girls bravely set up shop armed with home-baked goods and informative flyers about their topic. They raised $200 for their charities and had lots of great conversations about how we can offer better support and opportunities to students with disabilities. Angus Miller, Charlie Webb and Lucas Wilmot: Access to Education in Impoverished Countries Angus, Charlie and Lucas are grateful they have access to a high quality education here in Jackson, but they know that that is not the case for children in many different parts of the world. In order to take action and support students in impoverished countries, they took to the streets armed with facts about their topic and determined to gather donations to send to struggling schools. They courageously knocked on doors, explained their topic to strangers, and received an outpouring of generosity from their neighbors. Together, they spread awareness of this issue and collected huge boxes of donated school supplies to send to impoverished schools. Biz Carlin: Processed Foods and Healthy Eating Having grown up eating the fresh vegetables her family grows in their garden, Biz was shocked to learn just how many Americans survive every day on processed foods. Biz was determined to take action to support healthy eating in our community, so she teamed up with her family and the Hole Food Rescue to complete a \u201cfood rescue\u201d at Smith\u2019s grocery store. Lola Roberts and Zoe Joralemon: Animal Cruelty in the Meat Industry Lola and Zoe care deeply about animals, and were devastated to learn about the inhumane treatment that many animals receive in the meat industry. Determined to bring about change, they tested out various recipes and held a delicious vegan bake sale to raise money for the Farm Animals Rights Movement. Tyler Kucera, Tristan Thomann and Bodie Turner: Fighting plastic pollution Tyler, Tristan and Bodie are determined to fight against the harmful impact of plastic pollution on our rivers and oceans. Inspired by the recent plastic bag ban, they decided to head out into town and pick up every piece of trash they could find. As they went, they stopped and spoke to members of the community about the harmful impacts of plastic pollution and encouraged them to avoid single-use plastics whenever possible. Physical Feats Peter Concannon and Stewart Sullivan: Climate Change Peter and Stewart are passionate about protecting the natural environment they are lucky to have as a playground here in Jackson Hole. As lifelong skiers, they are deeply concerned about the impact that climate change is having on snow conditions and its future implications for the ski and snowboard industry (as well as our larger world). In order to raise awareness of this important issue, they decided to ski once a week for as many weeks as they could and rally sponsors to help them raise money for Protect Our Winters. So far they have raised over $360 and they are still going strong! Art\/Performance Avery Kyle, Brianna Clancy and Ila Musclow: Positive Body Image Avery, Brianna and Ila are on a campaign to spread self-love and positivity through Jackson Hole. Inspired by research into the relationship between negative self-image and eating disorders, Avery decided to paper the town with positive messages. She hung posters with uplifting expressions in three different schools, and created a public art program encouraging students in the middle school to write uplifting (temporary) messages to one another on the bathroom mirrors. Finally, she wrote handwritten notes of love and encouragement and left them for unsuspecting community members throughout town. Brianna and Ila also spread positivity in the form of delicious baked goods and raised money to support The Body Positive. Teaching Gracie-Mae Brooks and Eva Flanagan: Sexual Harassment and Assault Gracie and Eva are passionate about the devastating impact that sexual harassment and assault has on young women, and were determined to create a safe space for middle school girls to discuss this difficult topic. With help from Karin Waidley from the Community Safety Network and JHMS counselor Jessica Costello, Gracie and Eva arranged a special girls-only class on this topic at the middle school. They encouraged their classmates to open up about personal experiences with harassment and discussed important strategies for addressing this problem. Huge thanks to Karin and Jess for all of your support! Technology Kate Ryan: Elephant Poaching and the Ivory Trade Kate Ryan is passionate about elephants. A lifelong animal lover, Kate has always been drawn to these unique creatures, and was devastated to learn about the horrific impact that poaching and the ivory trade has on elephant populations. In order to spread awareness of this important issue, Kate designed an educational website chock full of important facts about elephant poaching and recommendations about how combat this problem.