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September 10, 2008

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Jane T.

I got to participate in a very unique program at the high school where I used to work on 9-11. It is called Challenge Day. It was presented by 2 very energetic and insightful people from California. A local donor helped to pay for their work here in WV. A woman from here named Stacy, who lives in California brought the program to WV. Spreading the word is now her passion. Here is what the Challenge Day people say about themselves: "What is Challenge Day? Imagina a school day where enemies find their common ground and make peace; where friends heal past hurts and make amends; where young people ignite their passion for service and leadership; where teachers and youth alike join hands to create a school whre every student feels safe, loved, and celebrated. This is the work of the heart. This is the work of Challenge Day. Please visit our website at www.challengeday.org or call us formore information!"

This day began at 7 AM when we volunteer adult facilitators(some were teachers, some were community members, some were paretns) met to find out just how enthusiastic Jon and Jen were and how enthusiastic we should be and what we would be doing the rest of the day. We had no idea. The program was really powerful. The kids who participated (about 60 that day and maybe 45 the day before) were leaders, athletes, special needs students, students with long discipline records, and most types of kids in between. The kids played games, hugged, learned about each other, apologized to each other, supported each other, and came away with a new appreciation for what the "cute little girl" in the next row has going on in her life and what the "star athlete" faces when he goes home. They also learned that teachers, parents, cops, firemen, and other adults are people too. These kids felt so safe and so open. It was magnificent to see. A bunch of them signed up to be part of a group that would help the whole school be a more caring place. I don't know if it will be transformational to the whole school; but it was transformational to the kids who attended.

I was privileged to play a small part in this day long activity. Check out the website. You might want to see about bringing something like this to a middle school or high school near you. I haven't looked at the cost--might be too high--but from what I saw--it wouldn't be too high.

Sorry to go on and on; but it was truely great!

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