THOMASVILLE- Thomas County Middle School’s Future Problem Solver’s Club received first place for the State of Georgia in the Community Problem Solving Competition for the second year in a row. This year, the TCMS Future Problem Solvers created “Project H.O.M.E.,” an acronym for Homelessness Outreach Meets Expectations.
“The underlying problem of the winning project was identified due to the large number of people in Thomas County and students in our district who are considered homeless,” Coach Sarah Rigdon said. “The hope is that we might show awareness about homelessness and get more of our community involved so that we are more aware of the needs of the homeless and how we can better support them.”
The solution that the students actively pursued was to create awareness posters to place around the school. This also included a partnership with Hands on Thomas County to create a hub for donations for the toiletry drive. Club members created this network hub with HOTC two months ahead of their scheduled school-based drive in April to get a head start and begin collections. The students created two drives: a toiletry drive and a dental hygiene drive. These students were able to collect over 650 total items. Using these collected items, students created over 50 toiletry bags for the homeless in the Thomas County community to be given out by HOTC.
At the end of the project, the students created a survey for the school to see the impact of their posters and the drives. Out of those that completed the survey, they found that almost 50% of the people that read the awareness posters about homelessness inspired the readers to donate to the homeless either through the drives at school or in another way.All of the students worked hard throughout the school year to put this project together.
Each year the students are asked to use the six problem-solving steps in the project of choice: identify challenges, select an underlying problem, produce solution ideas, select criteria, apply criteria, and develop an action plan (fps.org). The goal of the club for fifth and sixth graders is to identify an issue or problem in their community, go through the problem-solving process, and then create steps towards a change.