With the shocking news earlier this week of yet another school shooting in the USA it’s timely and reassuring to revisit a charitable movement that was started 13 years ago, following the Columbine High School massacre.
Rachel Joy Scott was the first person killed in the tragedy on April 20, 1999, and immediately afterwards her father Darrell – quoting from her diaries, that have subsequently been compared to those of Anne Frank – began speaking publicly about her vision of a chain reaction of compassion that would change the world to a kinder place. “How do you know”, she asked in a school essay entitled ‘My Ethics, My Codes of Life’, “that trust, compassion, and beauty will not make this world a better place to be in and this life a better one to live? My codes may seem like a fantasy that can never be reached, but test them for yourself, and see the kind of effect they have in the lives of people around you. You may just start a chain reaction.” From this emerged Rachel’s Challenge, with the mission of “inspiring, equipping and empowering” people to “create a permanent positive culture change in their school, business and community by starting a chain reaction of kindness and compassion”.
And Rachel’s Challenge is now spawning events such as Rachel’s Walk, due to take place at Liberty High School, Brentwood, California on 21 April: all the schools in the District will come together to display the paper chains they have been creating… every link in a school’s chain represents a random act of kindness carried out on-campus or in the local community. They will share their experiences in spreading kindness, and will then link hands and chains in a demonstration of solidarity. Each school has its own Friends of Rachel Club, to help disseminate her message of generosity and compassion.
The Challenge, which has a strong anti-bullying emphasis, is now in its second year in the District’s middle schools, but this is its first time in the elementary schools. Already there has apparently not only been an improvement in behaviour within participating schools but an increase in kindness in surrounding communities.
What a beautiful memorial to a special young lady!