- Police Beat
- The Forecaster
CAPE ELIZABETH — Fifteen hundred students from several area high schools are expected to attend a six-hour summit this spring on sexual assault prevention – an event that was organized and will be led by a peer who is only 14.
Aela Mansmann, a freshman at Cape Elizabeth High School, was recognized March 18 by U.S. Cellular as one of its “16 Under 16” recipients in the company’s National Future of Good Program.
The award was created to recognize youth under the age of 16 who are doing good things in their community and have used wireless technology to better their cause. Of the hundreds of applicants who applied, only three were chosen from Maine.
On Monday, Mansmann was presented with a $10,000 check from U.S. Cellular that she plans to use to fly in guest speakers and presenters for the May 22 summit at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland.
“We know that Aela is going to continue to make a difference in the community with this donation and to continue her outreach, secure fundraising, and engage student involvement,” U.S. Cellular representative Matt Kasper said at the award reception.
“It’s a difficult topic that she and her team are tackling, and her approach and her bravery in tackling it really inspired our panel,” Kasper said. “It stood out amongst a lot of other great nominees.”
Mansmann is part of a team of student leaders from four area high schools that is executing and fundraising for the summit, “Consent: The Way Life Should Be,” through the national organization SafeBAE.
SafeBAE is a teen-led, nonprofit organization of sexual assault survivors that educates teens about consent, sexual assault prevention, and healthy relationships. It provides educational resources for students to bring to their communities and is hosting the summit in May.
“We are working with them to plan a summit for our teens to take their mission statement and create some dialogue with that around our community,” Mansmann explained in an interview.
The summit will feature presentations and break-out sessions with national and local organizations tackling sexual assault prevention, such as Know Your IX, Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine, and Speak About It.
Find out more about “Consent: The Way Life Should Be” at https://www.safebae.org/maine-summit or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CEHS has “officially committed to sending 45 students, but there were some issues when it came to getting them to sign on to send students,” Mansmann said. “They haven’t been the most supportive when it comes to the planning process.”
The team is organizing a carpool service for additional students who wish to participate.
Students who plan to join the summit from partnering area high schools will receive an excused absence as long as their parents sign a waiver approving attendance.
Mansmann’s mother, Shael Norris, executive director and co-founder of SafeBAE, has encouraged and supported her daughter’s organizing efforts.
“It’s about culture change,” Norris reflected, emphasizing the importance of both the message and its messengers, especially in regards to youth leadership.
This isn’t Mansmann’s first foray into activism. Last spring she organized a walkout at Cape Elizabeth Middle School to remember the victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Referencing a quote from another committee member, Mansmann said, “She calls herself a full-time activist, part-time student, which definitely teachers wouldn’t like, but I definitely consider myself a full-time activist.”
“It definitely gets tricky when it comes to working with school administrations and getting them to realize that students can do more than what they see,” Mansmann said. “We can make a change and we can do something other than get the good grades and do sports.
“We have potential to do more.”
Cape Elizabeth High School student Aela Mansmann, center, holds a giant check presented to her Monday, March 18, by Matt Kasper, left, of U.S. Cellular. Mansmann’s work on sexual assault prevention earned her one of the company’s “16 Under 16” awards.