Kentuckiana accepting Rachel's Challenge; what it is and how you can join

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by Melissa Swan

WHAS11.com

Posted on March 3, 2011 at 6:47 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 4 at 9:59 PM

Click here for more information on Rachel's Challenge.

Louisville, KY (WHAS11) - Schools and businesses across Kentuckiana have accepted Rachel’s Challenge. It’s an inspiring story, born of incredible tragedy, and what’s happened since is mind-boggling and worldwide; it was a chain reaction.

Rachel Scott was just 17-years-old when she was killed at Columbine High School 11 years ago, in April, 1999; 12 students and one teacher were shot and killed in the tragedy at Columbine.  Rachel was the first person to die that day; she was sitting outside the high school eating lunch with a friend.

Rachel’s family has started a non-profit organization that challenges schools, businesses, even whole cities to foster an attitude of caring and kindness that will cut bullying and violence.  Over the last 11 years, we know of eight school shootings that have been prevented because of Rachel’s story.

Rachel’s father, Darrell Scott, and Melissa recently sat down to talk about the challenge and his daughter.  “I thought I knew Rachel well and I did know her well, but I didn’t know part of her.  That part is heard through six diaries Rachel wrote; following the example of another young girl she admired, Anne Frank, what Rachel was feeling she wrote about.  One of my favorites of her quotes is, “Don’t let your character change color with your environment; find out who you are and let it stay its true color,” said Darrell.

Rachel’s challenge is based on an essay she wrote near the end of her life; she said:
“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.”

Now Rachel’s challenge is in Kentuckiana and students throughout our region have accepted the challenge.

Recently, students at Meyzeek Middle School were challenged to eliminate prejudice, dream big, choose positive influences and use kind words.  Being a friend can change someone’s life. You have the power, you have that ability to impact someone deeply.

Two years after she died, Rachel’s parents found an outline of her hands – drawn behind a bedroom dresser; “And in the center, she had written, ‘these hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will someday touch millions of people’s lives’,” said Darrell.  Fifteen million people have heard Rachel’s story in personal settings, like the one at Meyzeek.

Rachel did start a chain reaction; the challenge is to carry it on.  Rachel’s family found the outline of her hands in her room on a Christmas Day.  Rachel’s dad tells me her faith did guide his daughter, but Rachel’s challenge is non-religious and non-political.

WHAS11 is proud to partner with Rachel’s challenge.  Every month WHAS11 will be bringing you reports on how people here are carrying out the challenge, and what they’re doing to advance kindness and compassion in Rachel’s name.

Click here for more information on Rachel's Challenge.

If your school or business has accepted Rachel’s Challenge let us know at rachelschallenge@whas11.com.

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