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Rachel’s Challenge pleas to teens

At Bob Jones High School, Leah Benjamine discussed tenets of the Colorado-based Rachel's Challenge. (CONTRIBUTED)
At Bob Jones High School, Leah Benjamine discussed tenets of the Colorado-based Rachel’s Challenge. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – By attending Rachel’s Challenge, Madison and Harvest teenagers experienced a hopeful alternative to one of America’s saddest days that forever changed campus life.

Rachel’s Challenge is a national program that developed after the Columbine High School tragedy in 1999 when 13 Colorado students and teachers were killed and 27 injured. Representatives with Rachel’s Challenge visited students at Bob Jones, James Clemens and Sparkman high schools and Sparkman, Liberty and Discovery middle schools the week of Oct. 1.

The initiative honors Columbine’s first murder victim, Rachel Scott. Scott’s diary entries and positive interactions with classmates left a great example of love, acceptance and tolerance.

Rachel’s legacy touches the misfits, the bullied and newbies on a school campus. 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.”

“Rachel’s global impact still 16 years after her death inspires students to replace violence, bullying, prejudice and hate with acts of compassion, respect and kindness,” public relations manager John Peck said.

The challenge organization led a training session for select students to lead efforts to set off a chain reaction of positive influences that can shift the school culture into a positive environment.

Representatives with Rachel’s Challenge travel around the country and discuss how easily words can build up or tear down a person. The program included video clips of the emergency response at Columbine, of Rachel’s life and reflections from friends and family.

Madison and Harvest teens saw “featured excerpts from journals Rachel kept that eerily foreshadowed her early death and commitment to make a difference in the world,” Peck said.

For more information, visit rachelschallenge.org.

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