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Rachel's Challenge asks community to care

A 2-mile paper chain that represents acts of kindness and compassion in the Enumclaw School District and the communities of Enumclaw and Black Diamond is the goal for those organizing Rachel’s Challenge.

The Enumclaw School District, Enumclaw Schools Foundation and the Enumclaw Regional Healthcare Foundation bring Rachel’s challenge to the Plateau and hope the community will help them shatter the previous paper chain record of 1 mile set in Texas.

As he explained the program to the Enumclaw City Council Aug. 22, Enumclaw High School junior and School Board student member Connor Wells held up a garbage bag filled with 30 yards of paper chain. It will take about 178 more to get to the 2-mile goal.

Wells, who is also a member of the 15-person Rachel’s Challenge committee of school, student and community leaders, explained how students and community members who witness or commit acts of compassion or kindness will record those on paper slips, which will be linked together to make a chain. Slips will be available through schools, churches, service organizations and business in the area.

The program kicks off Sept. 1 with a staff presentation at Thunder Mountain Middle School and will be launched directly after at the Enumclaw Regional Healthcare Foundation’s community summit, with a Rachel’s Challenge speaker and packets to be handed out with posters, leaflets and instructions.

A Rachel’s Challenge presentation will take place at each of the district’s schools between Sept. 15-22 with a community presentation at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 22 in the EHS auditorium and a Rachel’s Rally March 6.

Rachel Scott was the first person killed at Colorado’s Columbine High School massacre in 1999. Her challenge, presented through her family, is to make permanent, positive, cultural changes in their schools and communities by accepting the challenge to start a chain reaction of kindness and compassion.

Before her death, Rachel wrote an essay titled “My Ethics, My Codes of Life.”

“I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion then it will start a chain reaction of the same,” she wrote. “People will never know how far a little kindness can go.”

Her father, Darrell Scott, said it wasn’t a theory, it was something Rachel had been practicing for years.

Her family also found, behind a dresser, a place where Rachel had outlined her hand prints and wrote, “These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will some day touch millions of people’s hearts.”

In the past 10 years, more than 11 million people have heard the story.

Enumclaw School’s Superintendent Mike Nelson likened the Rachel’s Challenge paper chain to the district’s effort 10 years ago to join forces with the community to promote literacy. The “What Book Are You Reading?” campaign, where students and citizens recorded their reading minutes helped the school district become known for its reading and improve its test scores in that area. Together, students and community members, reached the 10 million-minute reading goal.

He’s hoping similar results can be achieved with the campaign for kindness and compassion.

The project is already gaining momentum with businesses and groups like the Live to Forgive Ministries and LINCCK, Linking Neighborhoods with Caring, Compassion and Kindness jumping on board.

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