Rachel's Challenge: How One Family Turned Tragedy Into Triumph
Columbine's First Victim
Few will ever forget the school shooting at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. Thirteen people lost their lives in that horrible massacre. The first victim to lose her life was a girl named Rachel Joy Scott.
I learned about Rachel recently during a presentation at my high school in Pennsylvania. The presentation was called "Rachel's Challenge".
Rachel's Challenge is a program started by Rachel's family. The program informs others about Rachel's remarkable example of positivity and compassion and seeks to motivate schools and communities to "start a chain reaction" of kindness---something Rachel believed in herself.
About Rachel's Challenge
Rachel's Challenge inspires kids and communities by offering Five Challenges, each one something that Rachel believed in and exemplified:
1. Look for the Best in Others
2. Dream Big
3. Choose Positive Influences
4. Speak with Kindness
5. Start Your Own Chain Reaction
After Rachel's tragic passing, her family discovered her journal and an essay Rachel had written. Through her writings, and from stories told by kids that Rachel had reached out to, Rachel's family learned about her powerful message of kindness. Rachel reached out to those who were new to the school, those who were being bullied, and those who were alone. Rachel believed that one kind act could spark a chain reaction of others, and she exemplified that philosophy everyday in her actions.
Rachel's Challenge now offers presentations around the world, telling Rachel's story, promoting a powerful positive message and encouraging kids to be kind. Rachel's Challenge provides materials, ideas and the framework for FOR (Friends of Rachel) clubs at the high school level and the KC (Kindness and Compassion) clubs at the elementary level. Examples of suggested activities include welcoming new students to the school, and writing letters of appreciation to different school groups, such as cafeteria staff and bus drivers. Another Rachel's Challenge activity involves writing about an act of kindness on a paper chain, and linking together the "chain reaction." One paper chain measured 28 miles and represented one million acts of kindness!
Rachel's story is amazing, powerful and moving. All who see Rachel's Challenge are inspired and many are motivated to get involved. I know I was! I am proud to say that I am now an advisor for the Friends Of Rachel club at my high school and am thrilled to see so many positive actions as a result of Rachel's Challenge.
Rachel's Amazing Story!
A few weeks after Rachel died, a man who lived 1,500 miles away from the Scott family had a dream about an image. The image was of an eye crying and something coming up from the ground beneath the tears. He called Rachel's dad to ask if that image meant anything to him. It didn't. But then Rachel's dad was given Rachel's backpack by the police. In it he found her journal, and a drawing Rachel had done just before she died. It was exactly what the man had described! Amazingly, there were thirteen clear tears--just as there were thirteen victims at Columbine! Then the tears turned dark, perhaps representing blood, and beneath them bloomed a beautiful rose. Mr. Scott knew then that something amazing and beautiful would come from this horrible tragedy. And it did. Rachel's Challenge began, and is now reaching kids and communities around the world.
I hope you will check out this wonderful, positive cause and bring Rachel's Challenge to your school. As Rachel said, " 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."