National Program "Rachel's Challenge" Comes to Effingham

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Published on November 16 2012 7:29 pm
Last Updated on July 14 2013 4:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

The nationally-known program "Rachel's Challenge" is coming to Effingham on Tuesday, November 20.

"Rachel's Challenge" is a student empowerment program that equips students and adults to combat bullying and allay feelings of isolation and despair by creating a culture of kindness and compassion.

The program is based on the writings and life of 17-year-old Rachel Scott, who was the first student killed at Columbine High School in 1999.  Organizers say 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, Rachel wrote, "I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, that it will start a chain reaction of the same.  People will never know how far a little kindness can go."

Rachel's Challenge was started by her dad and stepmom, Darrell and Sandy Scott.  They realized the writings and drawings Rachel left not only had an impact on her friends and classmates, but with students around the world.

As to how the program was landed for Effingham County, area students Taylor Kollman, Paige Logan and Taylor Hartke of Effingham County 4-H Youth Ambassadors along with Effingham County School Resource Officer Jeff Suckow wrote a grant to fund the cost of the event.  Michelle Loy assisted the young people with the grant and coordination of the program to bring it to our area.  Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation awarded the grant.  Paige Logan has worked at the national level to bring a stop to bullying, she having been a victim.

The event is set for 6:30pm at Effingham High School, and is free and open to the public.

Organizers say, each day, 160,000 students do not go to school because they are bullied, teased and harassed.  By turning the story of Rachel's death at Columbine into a mission for change, "Rachel's Challenge" is helping create safer learning environments and making a worldwide impact.