Rachel's Challenge, More than preventing bullying“To Prevent Bullying” isn’t the best description. Rachel’s Challenge is so much more.

Chris Laumann, assistant principal at Marietta High School, said “It’s an emotional program” that encourages deliberate acts of kindness, compassion and the breaking down of barriers.

Marietta Middle School and Marietta High School will participate in this exciting opportunity on August 29th and August 30th, along with a community presentation the evening of August 30th at 6:00 pm in the Marietta High School Auditorium. The community presentation will be followed promptly with a community resource fair to highlight the various resources available to our students and families.

Rachel’s story is the story of Rachel Scott, the first victim of the Columbine shootings. After her tragic death, Rachel’s parents were bombarded with letters from people describing their daughter’s acts of kindness. The Rachel’s Challenge program was created as a result of those stories. Currently, the Rachel’s Challenge program has over 1.5 million active participants including more than 1200 schools and businesses reached.

Rachel’s Challenge Prevents Suicide

The program has received letters from students whose suicide plans were abandoned as a result of these efforts. One child’s letter describes her plan to hang herself the day the program arrived at her school, and she said the program caused her to abandoned the idea. Rachel’s Challenge saved her life. Approximately 150 suicides are averted annually through this program.

The Marietta School District is one of the newest to jump on-board by adopting the program into the district wide Empower Me Initiative.

Synergy and Action, Not Just Information

The program has an impressive constellation of components that gives students and staff strategies to create a culture free of harassment and bullying, and so much more. For example, there are spinoff clubs, like the one that will help students at lunch, leadership training for staff and students, Friends of Rachel club. Plus existing leadership groups like the Health Professions Affinity Club (HPAC), Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and the Leo club will add their unique touch to this effort.

The school district expects to incorporate the program into the culture of all of its schools, beginning with the junior high and high schools this year. The Rachel’s Challenge elementary curriculum will be added next year. One student’s enthusiasm for the program has him pushing for programs at the elementary level. We’ll have more about Kole Scheider, a high school student, in our next piece. He isn’t the only Rachel’s Challenge enthusiast. The district began training for student leaders and staff this summer. An army of positive shakers is ready to roll in Marietta!

According to district officials, The goal of adding Rachel’s Challenge to area schools is to “encourage our students and staff to build positive relationships and equip them with the skills to break through potential barriers that prevent these relationships from forming.” Because societal issues and conflicts are reflected in school culture daily, concerned students and staff were searching for a way to instill positive change in the schools and community. School leaders feel that “the Rachel’s Challenge program will play an integral role in this process.”

Using age-appropriate programming for K-12, Rachel’s Challenge schools have reported up to 84{5b6c00ae8a31f44c65b344f315968efbd322bfc6ea45e4e8cca9716c4473fad8} reductions in disciplinary referrals. In a pre- and post-attitudinal survey of 9,881 students from across the US, respondents report a 282{5b6c00ae8a31f44c65b344f315968efbd322bfc6ea45e4e8cca9716c4473fad8} increase in the number of students feeling safe at school after participating in Rachel Challenge.  In the pursuit of its mission to awaken individual transformation and promote safer, more connected schools, Rachel’s Challenge has reached over 22 million students, educators and community members in live settings. Rachel’s Challenge continues to work hard to turn the ideals of kindness and compassion into actionable strategies that help promote safe and productive learning environments.

None of us Are Alone

Marietta now joins the ranks of schools across the country that have adopted a philosophy that encourages deliberate acts of kindness and compassion, conveying the idea to all that “none of us are alone.”

Don’t miss the community presentation Tuesday August 30 at 6:00 pm at the high school, or the community resources fair directly after to learn what’s out in our community to help families.

Funding for this project comes from several grants, including a grant from the Marietta Community Foundation and the Marietta Memorial Health Foundation.