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Wednesday, 21 September 2011 14:30

SC Comp. accepting Rachel’s Challenge

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By Gail Kesslar — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Rachel’s Challenge is far more than just another school assembly, and on Oct. 4 students at the Swift Current Comprehensive High School and the community at large will get a chance to experience it for themselves.

Inspired by the life of Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim to fall at Columbine High School on April 12, 1999, it’s a program her family started not only to honour her memory, but to also plant a seed of change that one day might possibly prevent such a horrific event from happening elsewhere in the future. Drawing on the acts of kindness and compassion she exhibited during her own short life, coupled with the contents of her six diaries, Rachel’s Challenge has become one of the most life-changing and sought after school programs offered.

Comprised of powerful video/audio footage of Rachel’s life and the Columbine tragedy, it’s a program which holds students spell-bound explains teacher and Student Leadership Council advisor Kim Morrison and council member/student Emily Hammer.

They experienced the program firsthand this past summer when they heard Rachel Scott’s brother deliver it at the Provincial Student Leadership Conference in Meadow Lake. They say it lives up to the hype surrounding it.

“Even though it was delivered to an assembly of more than 2,000 students and teachers,” says Morrison. “It held everyone’s attention and you could have heard a pin drop in there.”

That is just one of the many reasons both Morrison and Hammer were determined to bring it to Swift Current.

“The story itself is very interesting,” says Morrison. “A lot of students in this generation weren’t even born yet and have never even heard of Columbine before. While her brother did talk of Rachel as a victim in the beginning, he also talked of the challenge she issued to her generation, of the boys that killed her, and of how what they surrounded themselves with made an impact on their lives, and ultimately on the lives that they took.”

Less than a tale of caution or a sermon preached to kids, the presentation focused on the choices students make every day, and on how a difference might have been made if someone had reached out to these boys-turned-killers, adds Hammer.

“Simple little things can make an impact on someone’s life that you may never realize,” she adds. “Why I wanted this presentation for our school is because of the impact I saw it make on the students right there at the conference. More than 20 kids got up before everyone else and said they were ready to make a change in how they treated others, and that’s not something you would normally ever see.”

For Morrison, who as a teacher at the Comp says she sees subtle and overt intolerance exhibited everyday in the hallways and in her classroom, it’s a presentation she hopes will open the minds of those who may not even realize what they’re doing or the impact it has.

“What I see here isn’t as overt as something you would see on TV or in a movie, it’s more a quiet form of bullying. A comment made here, a joke made about someone who is in hearing distance, a lack of acceptance. I see it every day, and they think it’s OK, because they aren’t saying it to their face.”

The $3,800 U.S. price tag that comes with the program is being covered completely by the Swift Current Kiwanis Club, says Morrison with gratitude.

Kiwanis Youth Services Co-Chair Travis Cuthbert says it’s a program which falls directly into the mandate of what they want to achieve as a club, and why they work so hard to raise community funds with events including the upcoming annual Apple Drive.

“We’ve traditionally tried to support all of the schools where programs have been in need,” says Cuthbert. “Most of the money that we support the Comp with is in the area of student leadership, because we’ve always believed that by encouraging leadership in a small group, the benefits could spread to the entire school, and that’s something that we’re seeing with this project.

“Rachel’s Challenge is a great way for all kids in the school to hear how each and everyone of them can make a difference to the school culture by recognizing the positives attributes in each student and embracing new relationships. Kiwanis is extremely happy that we could fund this project in its entirety and believes the benefits to the kids, the school and the community as a whole will be tremendous.”

The Rachel’s Challenge presentation takes place  Oct. 4.

A general morning assembly of all students will hear and see the multi-media presentation, followed by a workshop for 100 of the school’s students who have exhibited leadership in one form or another.

At 7 p.m., the full Rachel’s Challenge program will again be presented to any and all community members free of charge —something that Morrison believes is another step to promoting a community of tolerance and change.

“This isn’t just a presentation for kids. We as adults can also benefit by seeing the effect our own behaviours have on those around us.”

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