Preface: I planned to write a whole new post about Rachel’s Challenge and my experience this year as opposed to last year (my first experience). As I thought about what to say, the same thoughts came to mind. With that in mind I will re-post an old post that is still perfect for my thoughts.
Life Changing – altering a person’s life or circumstances in substantial way.
Opportunity – a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.
There are times in one’s life that can be called landmark, signature, or life changing opportunities. I had one today!
These occasions are usually things like the birth of my children, the day I was married, the day I met the woman I would marry and have those children with. These are the moments that can change even the most hardened, tough, never-let-you-in types.
Those occasions are usually set aside for that title, yet think I had one today, NO, I am certain I did. (And yes I know that typing in all capitals is yelling, I just yelled that!) Today’s experience was amazing, powerful, exhausting, beautiful, gut-wrenching, tear-filled, scary, among many, many other things. I can’t just give it one name, it was all those things.
I had the opportunity to participate in a thing called “Chain Reaction” with an amazing group of about 88 7th & 8th graders and 20 teachers, counselors, and parents. I also need to mention 2 extremely gifted presenters from “Rachel’s Challenge,” Keyona and J.B.
My students (I call all the students at my school “Mine”) transported me on this amazing 6 hour ride that started with this seemingly corny group games called Avalanche, Shark Attack, and Lighting & Thunder, which ended up with a strong connection to the overall message, to sitting with this group of students and seeing them share the most deep, incredible, difficult parts of themselves with their peers and teachers.
Our students have experienced things that kids 13 and 14 years old should seemingly never have to experience. They have not only experienced these things, but they have become amazingly strong and wonderful people throughout these difficult experiences.
One thing this program, Rachel’s Challenge, does is break down walls. Break down walls between students, between students and teachers, and walls that have been built inside yourself allowing you to open up and see the kindness and compassion in others. Well I am here to say, it does exactly what it sets out to do!
Chain Reaction is a beginning to what could be a long journey of building kindness and compassion between people. People in a school, people in peer groups, people in a community. If today, and this feeling I have inside me right now, is any indication as to whether we are on the right path to starting our own “Chain Reaction” in Spring Lake Michigan, we are going to have one helluva a ride as we build stronger relationships and kindness and compassion takes the place of bullying, gossip, negative talk about others, among other things that get in the way of real progress in the journey of life.
I woke up this morning thinking I was going to have a great day, similar to the other great days I set out to have each and every day. What I got was a day that has reached in, grabbed my heart and pushed me to be a better man, dad, teacher, person, neighbor, friend, and human being. Seriously, it was that amazing!