October 16, 2013 Edition

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Walnut Ridge High School and Middle School students participated in Rachel's Challenge Tuesday where they learned about ways to combat bullying and recognize self worth. As part of the program, students were split into small groups and asked to write down things they thought needed to change. Shyanne Foley (from left), Katie Kersey, Sheridan Smith and Olivia Wilbanks wrote down judgment as the first thing they wanted to change.
TD Photo ~ Megan Heyl

WR students learn ways to spread
kindness from Rachel's Challenge

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

Walnut Ridge High School and Middle School participated in Rachel's Challenge Tuesday at the Walnut Ridge Community Center. Students learned about ways to handle bullying situations as well as things they can do to help others and themselves if they feel isolated.

Rachel's Challenge was started by the father and step-mother of Rachel Scott, who was the first victim in the Columbine shooting in 1999. Shortly before her death, Rachel wrote down a message, which inspired her parents.

"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," Rachel wrote.

"It was very powerful," Penny Sloan, WRMS counselor, said after hearing Rachel's story. "Rachel's dream was to change the world through kindness."

Many students shared in Sloan's reaction.

"It's been a really good experience and it's opened my eyes," Natasha Doane, a WRHS senior, said. "Bullying needs to be stopped. It's a serious situation."

Doane was one of the students who shared their own story during an open mic session Tuesday afternoon.

"I was very moved and proud of them," Sloan said about the students who spoke. "It took a lot of courage for them to do that. It makes me realize even in this wonderful school that there are people around you who are hurting."

Fred Lynch, with Rachel's Challenge, led the program and told students about Rachel's story, his own story and about ways that they can help each other through hard times.

"He's teaching them to be leaders in change and how to start a chain reaction," Sloan said. "Even as adults, it makes you think there is more we could be doing to spread kindness."

"It makes you want to take a stand and show that you can do things for other people," freshman Abbey Cox said after hearing some of the stories. "I think is will make me a better person and to want to reach out and help others."

Lynch gave the students the challenge to find their own Rachel and to become a Rachel for someone else. Payton Roberts, a senior, said that to be a Rachel you need to "help anybody that's in need and not judge them, and don't let anybody get you down."

The program was also presented to the public Tuesday at 6 p.m.

For more information about Rachel's Challenge, visit www.rachelschallenge.org.

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