Only a very special experience prompts someone to say, “I think about it everyday.” But ever since she participated in Rachel's Challenge as a sixth-grader in Florida, 17-year-old Alexandria Kuplack, says, “Over the past six years, not a day goes by that I don't think about Rachel's Challenge.”
Only a very special experience prompts someone to say, "I think about it everyday." But ever since she participated in Rachel's Challenge as a sixth-grader in Florida, 17-year-old Alexandria Kuplack, says, "Over the past six years, not a day goes by that I don't think about Rachel's Challenge."
Today, Kuplack is a senior at Western Wayne High School and eager to be part of the organization bringing Rachel's Challenge to her corner of northeast Pennsylvania.
Local community leaders comprised of Wayne Memorial Hospital personnel, staff of the Wayne County Office of Behavioral and Developmental Programs and Early Intervention as well as school officials and student body representatives from Forest City Regional, Wayne Highlands, Wallenpaupack Area and Western Wayne school districts have pulled together to launch Rachel's Challenge this September.
The program, created to equip and inspire people to replace acts of violence, bullying and negativity with acts of respect, kindness and compassion, is based on the writings of Rachel Joy Scott.
Rachel was the first victim of the 1999 Columbine High School Shootings. Following the tragedy, Rachel's family discovered, through dairies she'd left behind, that Rachel was in a sense an ambassador of kindness to those who were different, picked on or new at her school.
Her life resonated the belief that others could be inspired by kindness. 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."
With this basic concept as a guide, her family created Rachel's Challenge, a national non-profit program to help stop bullying, isolation and thoughts of suicide.
According to the organization's website, www.rachelschallenge.org, "more than 19 million people have been touched by Rachel's message." It is estimated that nearly 2 million more are added each year.
The local program consists of three components, a professional conference to be held on September 6 at Woodloch Pines, age-appropriate assemblies for all students Kindergarten through 12th grade at the four participating districts as well as community programs for parents, grandparents and all others interested in making a positive impact in the community.
Based on school enrollment alone over 9,000 local students will hear Rachel's message and have the opportunity to start their own chain reaction toward creating a cultural change within their schools.
All community programs will be held at 7 p.m. in the evening and are free to the public. Residents are encouraged to attend whichever session is most convenient, even if it is held in a neighboring community as opposed to their home school district.
The schedule is as follows: Tuesday, Sept. 10, at Wallenpaupack High School; Thursday, Sept. 12, Honesdale High School; Wednesday, Sept. 25, Western Wayne High School and Thursday, Sept. 26, Forest City Regional High School.
To learn more about Rachel's Challenge, please visit www.rachelschallenge.org. For specific information on local programs, contact Donna Decker, RN, manager of community health, Wayne Memorial Hospital at (570) 243-8422 or Jean Tuttle at (570) 253-8990.