Today March 10, 2011 was a day that congress heard about bullying and its effects on our children. Tonight I had the privilege of being in the audience of a “Rachel’s Challenge” presentation. This presentation was done by her father Darrell Scott. Rachel Joy Scott was one of 13 people who lost their lives on April 20, 1999 in the tragic high school shooting at Colombine. It will be 12 years since Colombine happened, and in the years that have followed Darrell Scott has done presentations to educators and students about living the example that Rachel lived. In her short life Rachel impacted people with her kindness, she did this by reaching out to people that others in her school would not, the new kid, the kid with the disability, the loner. Rachel had done an essay 6 weeks before the tragedy about her ethics and talked about how simple kindness can go far in the lives of others, and she was right. Kindness or compassion for your fellow human being is something that is sorely lacking in our society today. How bold of her to go against the grain in high school, she was a true leader.
I took two of my daughters and my daughter’s boyfriend to this presentation that was more geared to adults in the community. I am glad I did, an hour before this presentation one was done for 430 children involved in afterschool programs in my county. In the presentation we went to they talked about the tragedy at Colombine and they showed footage of the shooting and the coverage on CNN, they don’t do this at the elementary level. My children were greatly impacted by that alone, but they were also touched by the part of the presentation that is more often shown to school children. Mr. Scott talked about the five challenges that are known collectively as “Rachels Challenge”.
1. Look for the best in others- eliminate prejudice
2. Dare to dream- set goals
3. Choose positive influences – input determines output.
4. Kind words and actions = huge results
5. Start a chain reaction with family and friends
He talked about the impacts his presentations have made, districts he has spoken at report drops in bullying in particular. He relayed statistics regarding children who have contacted him to say they were suicidal but because of the presentation that they took part in they realize that they too can help others. He spoke of the clubs that are created in elementary and high school levels and the acts of kindness these kids are doing. Rachel had a vision and her father is carrying that vision forward. I don’t know how he does it or how he looks at the slideshows of his daughter and what a beautiful person she was without losing it. He speaks of her with great pride and he should, Rachel will long be remembered in the hearts of many who never even met her.
He spoke of the integrity with which his daughter chose to live her life and the fact that she knew she was going to touch millions of people’s lives. Rachel Scott predicted that she would be the victim of a homicide, and that she would not live to be 20. Of course when I listened I got chills as he spoke of his daughter and her predictions. One of Rachel's heroines and influences was Anne Frank and many of her ethics or belief system mirrored Anne’s. Tragically and ironically Rachel was killed on Hitler’s Birthday, a day specifically chosen by the Colombine gunmen. The similarities and parallels in these young women’s lives are remarkable. How can two young women born decades apart touch the lives of millions after their tragic deaths. Their journals both have played a part in the legacy that they have left behind. I for one am speechless which doesn’t happen very often. I am in awe that they both speak of kindness and compassion in terms so relative to all of us. How our kindness on a daily level can change the world in many far reaching ways that we cannot even begin to realize. How amazing is it that we have the ability to continue their legacy? That my child or yours can be affected by it. That I could embark on my own journey of kindness, you don’t need anything special, you don’t have to pay for it, its something that is innate in all of us already. It is called humanity. I hope that this comes to all of the local schools as a presentation. I hope it comes to your community and I would hope that “Rachel’s Challenge” creates an even bigger movement towards kindness than it already has. If you would like more information about this program you can go to http://www.rachelschallenge.org/ and you can also go to the http://foundationforabetterlife.com/ to find out more information about the things you can do to make the world a kinder place. As Rachel said “You may just start a chain reaction.”