Taking Rachel’s Challenge.

“I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.”

These words were written by 17 year old Rachel Joy Scott shortly before her life was taken during the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.

Investigations following the shooting revealed that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the gunmen, were often isolated from the rest of their peers. They had each kept journals in which they wrote about their interactions with other students and expressed their disdain. Both of the shooters were publicly classified as gifted children that had allegedly been victims of bullying for four years. This in turn has focused more attention on the link between bullying and school violence.

Did you know:

  • An estimated 1.6 million children in grades six through 10 in the United States are bullied at least once a week. — Human Rights Education Center of Utah
  • Six out of 10 American teenagers witness bullying in school once a day. — National Education Association
  •  A reported 160,000 (15% of all) students don’t show up for school each day out of fear of being bullied while at school — (Fried & Fried, 2003).
  • Every seven minutes, a child on an elementary playground is bullied (Pepler, Craig, & Roberts, 1998).

In memory of Rachel and her compassion for people, her family started Rachel’s Challenge; a series of student-empowering programs and strategies that were created based on Rachel’s writings and artwork, and whose ongoing mission is:

“to inspire, equip and empower every person to create a permanent positive culture change in their school, business and community by starting a chain reaction of kindness and compassion.”

The core component of Rachel’s Challenge is a school assembly that tells the story of Rachel Scott to inspire change among students (in elementary, middle and high schools) to treat others with respect. The results and feedback from this initiative have truly been remarkable. According to the Rachel’s Challenge research:

  • It was found in Texas that there were 90% fewer disciplinary referrals in elementary schools within the state in just a few months after any Rachel’s Challenge program was initiated.
  • A High School in Illinois experienced 84% fewer out-of-school suspensions after having initiated a Rachel’s Challenge program.
  • 78% more students indicated they would intervene in a bullying incident after seeing Rachel’s Challenge.
  •  In a recent 24 month period, Rachel’s Challenge received more than 450 emails from students who indicated they had changed their mind about taking their own life after Rachel’s Challenge made their school a better and more caring place.

We can all learn from Rachel and her chain reaction theory, which has become one of the most recognized anti-bullying initiatives. The key takeaways are:

  • Take Off Your Labels… Be Who You Really Are
  • Appropriate Affection
  • Our Words Have the Power…to Hurt or Heal
  • You are Not Alone…We Have Shared Experiences
  • Today is YOUR Chain Reaction Moment

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This week, Public Interest Registry has chosen to highlight the work of Rachel’s Challenge because this organization has successfully used their dotORG as an amazing platform to carry out their cause and mission and to help improve the lives of others. Rachel’s story is also one that anyone can relate to, and we want to be a part of the chain reaction that she has started. To date, Rachel’s message has touched more than 19 million people. Every single one of these people will help continue the legacy of making a difference in their communities.

 

If you would like to donate to Rachel’s Challenge, please click here.