Students at Rio are often involved with outreach programs, bringing new projects to the community, but it’s rarer to see students who put their talent to use to improve Rio itself. Brenna Intemann-Milligan is a Senior who started the fundraiser to bring Challenge Day to Rio.
Challenge Day is an international program that can be found in schools across the country; it is a large organization whose workshops have been described as emotional experience that has positively affected involved students.
“Challenge Day is a program that raises awareness about bullying, the things all students have in common and the struggles we all face.” said Brenna.
She described her personal experience with Challenge Day as well. “The program changed both my outlook on my school and the way I interact with my peers at school and away from school. So as my senior project, I raised money to bring Challenge day to the school, in the hope that it can have the same effect on other students that it had on me.” said Brenna.
Brenna’s personal experience with Challenge Day made bringing this program to Rio a very personal experience for her. “I guess my expectations [for Challenge Day] were based on when I had it freshman year,” she said. “I know how powerful it was for me especially with the Cross the Line activity to see the other kids struggling with the same things that I was so I was just really hoping that kids would be affected by it as much as I was and then that change would affect the rest of the campus and continue to improve Rio.”
In her quest to bring this program to Rio, she has been spending lots of personal time to spreading the word and getting connected with sponsors. In addition to being on the Water Polo team and Mock Trial, she has been promoting the program herself through fliers and word-of-mouth. She has run fundraisers on campus for the project since last December, selling See’s Candies to raise money for her project.
Brenna had participated in previous Challenge Days, and she remembers that the first time she went, it was an emotional event. “When I did it the first time I was a freshman at Rio and I didn’t know that many people because I was from a small Waldorf school and there weren’t many people that I knew at this school,” she remembered. “I had a girl in my group who was the perfect cheerleader and she was a super over achiever. It was really powerful to hear the things that she struggled with because even though she seemed perfect, so I learned that no matter who you are, you have more in common with other people than you think.”
She believes that Challenge Day, which has been featured on Oprah as a way of “breaking down barriers,” will be a transformative experience for participants.
“The idea with Challenge Day is to spark a realization of what students have in common, with their peers, other adults and teachers. Hopefully this realization will have an impact on how they treat everyone around them–from other students, to teachers or even their family members,” said Brenna.