Madison Hutchings - Anchorage

Essay Topic:  In schools, in the workplace, on television, even in our Congress, we see people intimidating, harassing, bullying, and victimizing others. How can you or how would you help to create a culture of tolerance where people cooperate, are respectful and kind to one another, and defend those who are being victimized or discriminated against?

This year our school had a representative from a program called “Rachel’s Challenge”. Rachel’s Challenge is a program designed to prevent bullying and spread kindness. Rachel Scott was the first victim killed on April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School shooting, the worst high school shooting in American history. Before Rachel was killed she had written her goals in her diary. She wanted to start a chain reaction of kindness. It all starts with a smile. Rachel was an amazing girl who died at 15. Her friends and family say she always knew she was going to die young and was comfortable with the fact. She was giving and generous girl. During the Rachel Challenge presentation, clips were shown of interviews with some of the people Rachel had affected in her lifetime. One young man with both physical and mental disabilities said he was being bullied and was contemplating suicide. He didn’t think anybody cared and nobody would notice if he was gone. One day a few football players knocked the books out of his hands and pushed him against the locker. 95 pound Rachel saw this from down the hall and ran towards them. She stepped between the boy and the bullies and said “if you want to touch him you will have to go through me first.” The football players left and the boy said that day he made a new friend who saved his life.

The two boys who were the shooters at Columbine, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, were also victims of bullying. If somebody would have stood up for them or knew they were being bullied they might not have become murders. Many times the victims become aggressors. In order to prevent this from happening someone need to stop them from being the victims. Rachel’s Challenge focuses on being kind and showing care and compassion, ultimately many lives might be saved.

After hearing Rachel’s message I took it upon myself to make a difference at my school. At South Anchorage High School there isn’t a lot of the violent bullying as much as verbal abuse. While talking to one of my teachers she mentioned there are many kids at South who were depressed and contemplated suicide. This was one of the reasons the principal arranged for our school to hear Rachel’s message. I was shocked and made it a personal goal to become like Rachel. I then joined the friends of Rachel’s club started at my school just after the message was heard. During the presentation there was a girl who said that Rachel had a huge impact on her life. She said she had just moved to Colorado and didn’t know anybody. She was eating alone at lunch when Rachel saw her and asked if she wanted to come eat with her and her friends. The girl politely declined. She said she really did want to eat with them but felt awkward doing so. Rachel smiled and said okay and walked away. Rachel went back to her table and grabbed her friends and they went and sat with the girl. After hearing how this made that girl feel I made a promise to myself that if I ever saw someone eating alone I would make an effort to include them. Rachel’s Challenge has made a huge impact on my high school it has also brought other high schools together in the challenge to start a chain reaction of kindness. Rachel has inspired many and has probably saved many during her short life and continues even after her death. Rachel has inspired me to be the better person. I will start a chain reaction of kindness.