One person can make a difference.
That's the message that more than two dozen people who attended a community presentation about 'Rachel's Challenge' at Tuesday night took away from the event.
It's an uplifting lesson that came about following the tragic campus shooting at Columbine High School in 1999. 'Rachel' is Rachel Joy Scott, the first person who was killed that fateful day. However, Rachel's own documented acts of kindness and compassion and what her friends and family learned about her in six diaries she kept leading up to her death have now shaped a simple yet profound campaign promoting kindness and compassion known as 'Rachel's Challenge.' (See coverage.)
"It's a great program," said Cindy Button, a member of the health staff at Black Diamond Elementary, who attended the meeting with her daughter Krista.
"It's a good message for all of us to show our kindness. You can make a difference. Just because you can't do everything, don't then not do anything."
Staff and students in the Enumclaw School District have been learning about Rachel's Challenge for the past few weeks, but Krista, a student at , said she wanted to attend Tuesday's presentation with her mom to hear more. "I don't want to say it's inspiring," she said, "but it's emotional. I just want to share it with people."
Presenter Nasha Snipes guided the audience through highlights of Rachel's life all the while interweaving the presentation with action steps to take, like dreaming big and keeping a journal, in order to meet her challenge.
Snipes talked about Rachel's family and friends who were impacted by her generous acts, as well as who she drew inspiration from -- including Anne Frank and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
School Board Student Representative Conner Wells then explained how the community would bring the realization of Rachel's Challenge to life in the form of a visual display.
In all district schools as well as several businesses downtown, long strips of paper are available for people to take home and document an act of kindness or compassion they either performed or experienced, Wells explained.
The filled-out strips of paper can be turned in at those same locations. Between now and March 2012, citizens will work to create this 'chain reaction' that visually documents the acts of kindness shared in the community.
The goal is to create a paper chain that when strung all together exceeds two miles in length, he said. That amounts to roughly 50,000 links. According to Rachel's Challenge literature, the current record is being held at one mile, which was set by a project in Texas.
Enumclaw's participation in Rachel's Challenge is drawing the attention of those outside the community as well. Janet Brockmeyer, a parent from neighboring Maple Valley, was invited to the event and said she hoped a similar project could be undertaken in her district as well.
"One person can make a difference," she said. "It is really important to teach our youth about what to do to help improve our culture."
For 13-year-old Krista, that's easy. "Just start out like Rachel did and show little acts of kindness."
Learn more at the District website.