Challenge Day programs took place at Central, North and South high schools last week, marking 10 years the event has been offered to students in the Westerville City School District. In December 2007, a small group of committed individuals, including the late Cindy Crowe and high school teachers Stephanie Martin and Jennifer Kirk, organized the first Challenge Day program in Westerville. Since then, 48 Challenge Day programs have been held, reaching nearly 5,000 students and involving over 1,000 adult volunteers.
Each Challenge Day brings pupils together for an eye-opening six-hour program that is emotional, heart-wrenching, and inspiring; and that changes the way students view each other. It begins with fun and games to loosen up the group. Then, the activities and discussions become deeper as students learn more about themselves and each other. The final part of Challenge Day invites students to speak up and take action to stop the teasing, violence, peer-pressure, and alienation with greater acceptance and understanding.
A recent survey of students who participated in Challenge Day revealed that 63 percent are likely to speak up when they see someone being bullied; 72 percent believe their high school is a better place because of Challenge Day; and 96 percent are more understanding of other people’s experiences. Pupils agree that Challenge Day brings everyone closer together with stronger friendships, common connections among peers, and deeper respect within their families and schools.