"You are not alone," said Cody Hodges. "There are people who do understand."
Presenter Cody Hodges of Rachel's Challenge led an assembly for the students of Litchfield Middle School on Monday morning, Sept. 17, to share the story and writings of Rachel Joy Scott.
Scott was the first victim of the shooting that occurred at Columbine High School in Colorado in April 1999, where 12 students and one staff member tragically lost their lives.
Her inspiring story is shared through her essay titled, "My Ethics, My Codes of Life," that she wrote just six weeks before she was killed. In this essay, she challenges her readers to start a chain reaction of kindness and helps provide a sustainable solution to bullying, isolation, teen suicide and discrimination.
Hodges shared the challenges Scott listed including to eliminate prejudice and to always look for the best in others."We're going to find what we're looking for," said Hodges.
Dream big; be aware of life's purpose, pursue your dreams and goals from your purpose and don't limit yourself. Record your journey and lastly, speak with kindness because words have the power to either hurt or heal.
"You all are worth a lot more than you think you are," said Hodges. He invited the students to close their eyes and ponder the impact their lives are making and who they care about the most.
"Every day of our lives has a direct impact on someone," said Hodges. "Go to the people today and tell them you love them."
After the assembly, staff announced that the girls' bathroom stalls were decorated with uplifting messages by Sister One and Three Designs, some of which are quotes of Rachel Joy Scott. The boys' bathrooms will be designed upon replacement of the stalls this winter.
Students also had the opportunity to sign a "Rachel's Challenge" banner and commit to accept the challenges of the program.
Hodges was present on campus for the remainder of the day to offer FOR (Friends of Rachel) Club Training, 90-minute sessions designed to help a group of students create a club whose mission is to "practice what they just learned in the assembly and foster a permanent culture of kindness and compassion on their campus."
The training included an assembly debrief and group sharing, the structure and logistics of the club, potential club activities and establishing a first meeting.
For those students who did not participate in the club training they watched the uplifting film "Inside Out" with their Panther Pride class covering a lesson on "These hands can change the world."
Hodges, who hails from Texas, began presenting Rachel's Challenge in 2007, after attending a program held by her father Darrell.
For more information about Rachel's Challenge, please visit www.rachelschallenge.org.