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Rachel’s Challenge Transforming Communities, Not Just Schools

Now, he’s thrilled that his four children will soon be exposed to Rachel’s Challenge at their schools in the Wayne Highlands School District—and that the program will also be offered to the community at large. The national anti-bullying, anti-suicide program, McLaughlin feels, is not just about children.

“For any real change to take place in younger people it needs to be modeled by the adults in their lives,” McLaughlin stated. He spoke about the positive impact of the program at his school and why it still has momentum. “At a time when much is changing in public education and employees within a school are under much more pressure and stress, I have seen my faculty and staff actually become more compassionate and caring toward the children of our school. In turn, I see our students showing more care and concern for each other.”

Named after Rachel Joy Scott, the first student killed at Columbine High School in 1999, Rachel’s Challenge is about igniting a “chain reaction of kindness,” because, as she wrote in her diaries, “...people will never know how far a little kindness can go.” It was after reading Rachel’s journals chronicling her acts of kindness and common practice of reaching out to those who were different that her father Darrell and stepmother Sandy started Rachel’s Challenge. They hoped to spread a legacy of compassion in her honor.

In addition to student assemblies at Wallenpaupack, Wayne Highlands, Western Wayne and Forest City Regional districts during school hours, community programs all beginning at 7 p.m. will be held as follows: Wallenpaupack High School (September 10); Honesdale High School (September 12); Western Wayne High School (September 25), and Forest City Regional High School (September 26). The evening programs are free and open to anyone over age 12.

There will also be a professional workshop presented by Rachel’s father, Darrell Scott, on Friday, September 6th at the Woodloch Pines Nightclub, Hawley. Full day and half day sessions are available. For more information and costs, contact Wayne Memorial Community Health Department Manager Donna Decker, RN at (570) 253-8422 or Assistant Jean Tuttle at (570) 253-8990.

“Rachel’s Challenge is not just for teachers, students and guidance counselors,” said Lisa Champeau, Public Relations manager at Wayne Memorial Health System, “It’s also for business people. Companies who sent their employees to Rachel’s Challenge programs reported afterwards that it helped reduce drama in the workplace and increase productivity.”

Rod McLaughlin hopes the community will take advantage of the opportunity to experience Rachel’s Challenge. “We as educators have a responsibility to seek out and provide positive programs and personal examples that show students another/better way to live life. As a community we have a responsibility to do the same and it is critical to the ultimate success of this program and really the future success of the community that the ideals exemplified in Rachel’s Challenge be known and reflected in the community as well.”

To learn more about Rachel’s Challenge, please visit For more information on local programs, please contact Donna Decker at (570) 253-8422 or Jean Tuttle at (570) 253-8990.

Photo: As one of the community partners working to bring Rachel’s Challenge to our area, the Wayne County Library System has been encouraging children to write or draw an act of kindness on a paper circle used to form a chain. The chain is currently displayed at the library in Honesdale. The Honesdale Library is also offering a Kid’s Night of Fun for children age 5+ whose parents attend the September 12 Rachel’s Challenge program at Honesdale High School. Call 570-253-1220 to pre-register. Space is limited.


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