SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — Lakeside students are always searching for ways to make a positive impact on the community. Whether the motivation for doing so comes from students within the school, faculty in the school, leaders in the community, or elsewhere, the population of Dragons is usually up to something selfless. With the help of a group known as Rachel’s Challenge, Lakeside students have found another outlet to spread kindness and goodwill throughout the school and the community.
Rachel’s Challenge, which began in Littleton, Colo., is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a culture of compassion wherever the challenge is accepted. The organization was founded in 1999, after the Columbine High School shooting. Rachel Scott was one of the victims in the tragic incident. After her death, her father, Darrell Scott, and brother, Craig Scott, started Rachel’s Challenge as a way to continue on her legacy of compassion and goodwill toward others.
The organization's mission is: to “motivate, educate and bring positive change to many young people.” They travel to schools across the nation, giving presentations to students using footage of the Columbine massacre, pictures of Rachel’s drawings and writings, and personal accounts from Rachel’s family and friends. They urge students to be compassionate and kind. The main point of these presentations is to encourage students to start a “chain reaction” of kindness – one of Rachel’s ideas. The organization revolves around one of Rachel’s quotes: “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.”
The logic behind the idea is that if one person shows kindness, others will show kindness in return, creating a “chain” of kindness and compassion. The movement has been quite successful in schools all across the nation. Rachel’s Challenge successfully prevents bullying; the program spreads positive thoughts and encourages students to treat others with respect. The group has also helped to prevent more than 500 suicides throughout the last three years.