The first student killed at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, was 17-year-old Rachel Joy Scott. It's hard to imagine anything good coming out of that horrendous school massacre, but Rachel's family and friends responded to her death by creating a campaign to make schools and other parts of our society kinder, safer and more compassionate places. They created a movement they named Rachel's Challenge.
Rachel's Challenge has a straightforward mission. It seeks "to inspire, equip and empower every person to create a permanent positive culture of change in their school, business and community by starting a chain reaction of kindness and compassion."
Making use of her writings and drawings, Rachel Scott's life story has been turned into a compelling message designed to inspire others to become a force for positive change.
Part of the Rachel's Challenge agenda is a focus on combating bullying and confronting the feelings of isolation and despair that sometimes make school life difficult for young people. Rachel Scott believed that acts of kindness build upon one another and are capable of ultimately transforming a school or community. That concept is a key part of the philosophical underpinnings of the Rachel's Challenge approach.
Fort Dodge Community School District and St. Edmond Catholic Schools personnel are engaged in a series of meetings with the goal of beginning the process of bringing the Rachel's Challenge message not only to our town's schools, but also to the broader community. On Wednesday, there will be a public meeting at 7 p.m. at Fort Dodge Senior High. Hopefully, this presentation will inspire a broad cross-section of Fort Dodgers to think carefully about how they can contribute to this worthy and important undertaking.
The Messenger applauds the leaders in the Fort Dodge Community School District and at St, Emond for their commitment to the Rachel's Challenge initiative. We urge our readers to learn more about this exciting venture by attending the public meeting Wednesday.