Rachel’s Challenge includes a series of student empowering, educator motivating programs and strategies called the Awaken the Learner Five-step School Improvement Process that equips students and adults to create and sustain safe, caring and supportive learning environments essential for academic achievement. The programs are based on the writings and life of 17 year-old Rachel Scott who was the first student killed at Columbine High School in 1999. Rachel left a legacy of reaching out to those who were different, who were picked on by others, or who were new at her school. Shortly before her death she wrote,
“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.”
The elements of the school improvement process are designed to create a culture of kindness and compassion and to equip students and adults with resources to insure that their schools are safe, caring and supportive learning environments essential for academic achievement.
Rachel’s Challenge was started by Rachel’s dad and stepmom, Darrell and Sandy Scott when they realized that the writings and drawings Rachel left not only had an impact on her friends and classmates, but also resonated with students around the world. Although Rachel was a typical teenager who even wrote about her “ups and downs,” she had a passion and conviction that she would someday change the world. The Scott family knew her story and passion had to be told to inspire others to make their world a better place.
More than 21 million people have been touched by Rachel’s message, and they continue the legacy of making a difference in their communities. Each year at least 2 million more people are added to that number. These are just a couple of the results of Rachel’s Challenge. In one survey, 78% of students indicated they would definitely intervene in a bullying incident in their school after seeing Rachel’s Challenge. In the last 3 years, Rachel’s Challenge has received nearly 500 unsolicited emails from students stating that after hearing Rachel’s story they reached out for help as they were contemplating suicide. Some even state that “Rachel saved their life.”
The purpose of the elementary programs is to encourage elementary school students to live a life of purpose, do simple acts of kindness and create a KC (Kindness and Compassion) Club to make their school a better place. There are multiple resources for teachers to sustain the impact of Rachel’s stories in grades K-5 throughout the school year.
Rachel’s Story for middle schools can include an assembly, student FOR Club training, an evening community event and a variety of optional support components. There is also an intensive smaller group training day, Chain Reaction. These programs have components that can be combined in different combinations to meet the local needs.
The presentations include video and interaction with the Rachel’s Challenge certified presenter that challenges students to examine their own lives to make a positive impact on their school and community. The training session provides instruction on how to start the FOR Club and plan initial club activities that will sustain the impact of the assembly.