Before I ever participated in Rachel's Challenge, I thought it would be an anti-bullying presentation -- much like our other attempts to get people to stop being mean. I was prepared for 4 hours of sitting and watching an adult ramble on about how bullying is so horrible. So before you decide that Rachel's Challenge is like that, let me tell you, that presentation changed how I look at my school. Forever.
Rachel Joy Scott was an average high schooler at Columbine High. She was very kind to people and stood up for them. What people didn't know about her was that she had plans. Big plans to one day reach out to millions of people and to make the world a better place. She had secretly written in her journal many inspirational sayings. Behind her dresser, she even traced her hands and in them wrote: "These are the hands of Rachel Joy Scott and one day they will touch the hearts of millions of people." Rachel had big plans: to change the world with kindness.
In the spring of 1999, Columbine High School became the scene of the biggest high school shooting in American history. Two students at the school had plans to plant bombs in the cafeteria and shoot students as they came out of the school when the bombs they had planted didn't go off. They angrily approached the school with their guns. Rachel Scott had chosen that day to sit outside the library. In seconds, she became the first victim of the boys. The boys then went into the library where in 22 minutes 10 people were killed. Including two off Rachel's brothers friends and almost her brother. One of her brother's friends was one of the only African-American students at the school and, for the last few minutes of his life, all he heard was racial slurs about him and his family. When the boys were "done", they took their own lives.
Just as the SWAT team had come into the school, parents were already outside waiting in distress for any sign that their children were safe. In a couple of minutes, the students came out of the school and families were reunited. Sadly, 13 people were killed in the shooting and many others injured.
Many of us were just babies when this happened, some not even born yet. But that doesn't mean we should ignore it. Rachel's funeral was aired on CNN national television, the whole world was touched by this.
Several weeks after her death, the Scotts found an essay including Rachel's code of life. This is where Rachel's challenge comes from . Rachel's codes is enhancing her life, giving her additional rules to make other people's lives better. There are 5 of those rules that go into Rachel's challenge:
- Look for the best in others
- Dream big
- Choose positive influences
- Speak with kindness
- Start your own chain reaction
These are challenges to become the best YOU can be and to help others. Rachel's challenge also recognizes that there is no "bully" but only a person that acts like one, because they could be going through things at home that you wouldn't even guess. Or that person doesn't think that anyone cares about him or her, you should challenge yourself to be the person to reach out to them, and to not call them mean behind their back, again, you don't know what they are going through. Rachel's challenge is also challenging you to not label people, even if they drive you crazy, you don't need to label them. They could change. But your label will be the same. We also challenge you to be kind because, "you never know how far a little kindness can go." -(Rachel Joy Scott)
Not only should you be kind to your friends, but everyone. Including the kid that is mean to everyone, including the kid who drives you crazy, including the kid with special needs. You never know how your kindness will affect everyone.
FOR clubs (Friends of Rachel's club) focuses on all these things, but also targets 3 groups of people just like Rachel had wanted:
- New students
- Students with special needs
- Students that are being left out or picked on
Rachel's Challenge has inspired me, and I want to go out and do something about our world to make it a better place. I could go on and on about Rachel's challenge. But the biggest message is that you can do a lot of things; no matter how old you may be, Rachel challenges us to make a difference, to be kind, to touch the hearts of many people.
"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. PeopIe will never know how far a little kindness can go."
-Rachel Joy Scott
Information about the author:
Grade 7, Urbana Middle School
Friends of Rachel Club (FOR)
Rachel's Challenge Ambassador