Rachel’s Challenge to Bring “Life-Changing” Message of Kindness and Compassion to Cleveland County Schools

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Events Scheduled for March 28 and 29at Gardner-Webb University 

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.— Before she was murdered at Columbine High School in 1999, Rachel Scott wrote in an ethics paper, “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.”  As it turns out, she was right.

To honor her life, Rachel’s father, Darrell, founded Rachel’s Challenge, a bullying and violence abatement program based on Rachel’s belief in the power of compassion and kindness.  To date, Rachel’s Challenge, often called “the most life-changing school program in America,” has prevented over 350 suicides and at least 6 school shootings, and has offered its “life-changing” message to over 15 million students around the world.

On March 28 and 29, Gardner-Webb University, along with WCNC-TV, will share the Rachel’s Challenge vision with almost 3,000 freshmen and sophomores from Crest, Shelby, Burns and Kings Mountain High Schools.

Darrell Scott has become a leading expert on issues of school violence.  He has spoken to Congress and met with Presidents, appeared on news and talk shows outlets like CNN, Fox News, The Today Show, Oprah, Larry King Live, and Dateline, and has authored three books including the best seller “Rachel’s Tears.”

“When Rachel wrote her essay to start a chain reaction of kindness and compassion, she had already been practicing that for several years in her school,” Darrell said.  “It wasn’t just a theory for her. She challenged people to look for the best in others, and to make a difference in the lives of those around her.”

Rachel’s friends and family also remember that Rachel had a “premonition” that she would die young, but that her life would touch millions. “After she died, we found a note scribbled on the back of her dresser, in an outline of her hands.  It said, ‘These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will someday touch millions of people’s lives,’” said Darrell. “It’s almost as if she knew the impact her legacy would have.”

Rachel’s Challenge begins with an assembly for students, sharing Rachel’s story of faith and conviction and asking students to take up her challenge to change their lives and their schools through kindness.

“We saw a need at Rachel’s Challenge to bring in a group of professionals to help us design a curriculum to ensure an ongoing impact in the schools.  The assembly itself is extremely powerful, and the desire to create a positive change is powerful too, but we wanted to ensure that lasting impact by having some follow-up tools and materials,” said Dana Scott, Rachel’s sister.

For that reason, the organization also provides separate training for “Friends of Rachel.” These students are selected by teachers and school administrators to lead ongoing efforts to combat violence, bullying and exclusion in their particular schools.  “The training material we leave behind has a lot of practical information about positive steps they can take in their schools,” said Dana.

Students’ families are invited to Gardner-Webb’s Lutz-Yelton Convocation Center on Thursday, March 29 at 7 p.m. for a special Rachel’s Challenge assembly for parents, outlining several resources for adults to aid in the effort against school violence.

“We have been inspired by the vision and the mission of Rachel’s Challenge,” said Noel Manning, GWU’s chief communications officer. “My daughter is going to participate in the program, and both as a parent and a member of our local education community, I am excited to see the transformative impact this program will have on Cleveland County schools, and hopefully even more schools in our region.”

More information is available at rachelschallenge.org.  For question about the GWU Rachel’s Challenge events, contact Manning at 704-406-4631.