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Rachel’s Challenge: Kindness

March 16, 2011

Post & Mail photo/Becky Hand — Todd Lauderdale, family friend of Rachel Scott’s family (Rachel was the first victim at the Columbine High School shooting) spoke at Columbia City High School Tuesday about turning around the bullying by acts of kindness.

COLUMBIA CITY — Imagine a young girl championing the cause of the bullied and harassed, advocating acts of kindness to uplift her classmates oppressed by their peers.
Now imagine that the very ones she stood for, in retaliation for the bullying, shot her in cold blood as she ate her lunch at school.
While this scenario makes no sense, this is the story of Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim of the Columbine High School shooting in which 12 students and one teacher died and 24 more were injured in a random shooting spree. The shooters also killed themselves afterward, bringing the death toll to 15.
The killings happened April 20, 1999 in Littleton, Colorado.
Todd Lauderdale, family friend of the Scotts, presented a program at Columbia City High School during two school sessions during the day Tuesday and in the evening to the general public, telling the rest of the story — how Rachel lives on in her message of kindness.
The two Columbine shooters had been bullied for years and that, combined with their penchant for violent video games and movies and admiration for Adolph Hitler, spurred them to react in violence, unknowingly gunning down one who would have stood in their defense.
But Rachel Scott’s dreams didn’t die with her.
Her family, including a brother who was also a student at the high school and watched as two of his friends were killed on either side of him, picked up Rachel’s banner.
They have developed a program which reaches students around the world, encouraging kindness instead of brutality of words and deeds.
Rachel Scott kept journals and after the massacre, the police released her backpack to the family, which included four bullet holes and her latest diary.
Her writings included five challenges:
• “Eliminate prejudice in our hearts.“ Allow a person three chances before you make a judgement about them.
• “Dare to dream” and set goals for your life. Don’t set limits on yourself.
• “Choose positive influences.” What you let into your life will influence what comes out of your life.
• “Kind words and little acts of kindness give huge results.”
• “Start a chain reaction.” Tell the people who are important to you how much they mean to you.
The program included stories of those Rachel had touched in her life which came to her family only after her death..
One young man, with mental and physical disabilities, was being pushed around again by two students at Columbine when Rachel saw what was happening and stood between him and his attackers. Though she was tiny in comparison, the bullies walked away.
“She saved my life,” said Allen, the student she defended. He had decided prior to that event to take his life, but her act turned him around.
Another student, Amber, was new to Columbine and grieving the death of her mother. On her first day, she sat alone in the cafeteria for lunch. Rachel noticed her and asked if she wanted to join Rachel and her friends.
Being shy, she declined, but Rachel saw through her response and instead, brought her group of friends over to Amber’s table.
“Instantly my worst day of school became my best day of school,” Amber said.
Lauderdale told of a new club to be formed at Columbia City High School called the Friends of Rachel Club (FOR) which will partner with the recently formed Students Against Violence Club (SAV).
He asked those present at last evening’s presentation to reinforce Rachel’s message at home.
He asked for little acts of kindness which will start a chain reaction reaching who knows how far.
Written just six weeks before her death, Rachel wrote “My Ethics, My Codes of Life,” a one-page essay for one of her classes. In it she stressed compassion for others and being kind.
She wrote, “People will never know how far a little kindness can go.”
For more information on Rachel’s Challenge, go to www.rachelschallenge.org or call 1-877-895-7060.

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