Sullivan West Elementary School Principal Rod McLaughlin experienced Rachel's Challenge at his school two years ago and saw first-hand changes in students and staff. Now, he's thrilled that his four children will soon be exposed to Rachel's Challenge at their schools in the Wayne Highlands School District—and that the program will also be offered to the community at large. The national anti-bullying, anti-suicide program, McLaughlin feels, is not just about children.
--- Making a positive impact
"For any real change to take place in younger people it needs to be modeled by the adults in their lives," McLaughlin stated. He spoke about the positive impact of the program at his school and why it still has momentum. "At a time when much is changing in public education and employees within a school are under much more pressure and stress, I have seen my faculty and staff actually become more compassionate and caring toward the children of our school. In turn, I see our students showing more care and concern for each other."
Named after Rachel Joy Scott, the first student killed at Columbine High School in 1999, Rachel's Challenge is about igniting a "chain reaction of kindness," because, as she wrote in her diaries, "...people will never know how far a little kindness can go." It was after reading Rachel's journals chronicling her acts of kindness and common practice of reaching out to those who were different that her father Darrell and stepmother Sandy started Rachel's Challenge. They hoped to spread a legacy of compassion in her honor.
--- The schedule:
In addition to student assemblies at Wallenpaupack, Wayne Highlands, Western Wayne and Forest City Regional districts during school hours, community programs all beginning at 7 p.m. will be held as follows: Wallenpaupack High School (September 10); Honesdale High School (September 12); Western Wayne High School (September 25), and Forest City Regional High School (September 26). The evening programs are free and open to anyone over age 12.
There will also be a professional workshop presented by Rachel's father, Darrell Scott, on Friday, September 6th at the Woodloch Pines Nightclub. Full day and half day sessions are available. For more information and costs, contact Wayne Memorial Community Health Department Manager Donna Decker, RN at (570) 253-8422 or Assistant Jean Tuttle at (570) 253-8990.
"Rachel's Challenge is not just for teachers, students and guidance counselors," said Lisa Champeau, Public Relations manager at Wayne Memorial Health System, "It's also for business people. Companies who sent their employees to Rachel's Challenge programs reported afterwards that it helped reduce drama in the workplace and increase productivity."
To learn more about Rachel's Challenge, please visit www.rachelschallenge.org. For more information on local programs, please contact Donna Decker at (570) 253-8422 or Jean Tuttle at (570) 253-8990.