Radium Springs seventh grader Aeriana Alford participates in the Phoebe Putney Memorial
Hospital and the Dougherty County School System’s Rachel’s Challenge Chain Reaction
Community Kick-off Thursday at Hugh Mills Stadium.
ALBANY — The movement to begin a chain reaction is under way in Albany.
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and the Dougherty County School System conducted the Rachel’s Challenge Community Kick-Off Thursday evening at Hugh Mills Stadium.
Phoebe and DCSS partnered in July to bring “Rachel’s Challenge” to the school system and to the community. It was introduced at the leadership, educator and community level via assemblies held throughout the Albany area.
“The entire community was invited to start a chain reaction,” said Angie Barber, director of Phoebe Network of Trust. “Everyone has been invited to come together to bring a voice to kindness and compassion.”
As part of the movement, each school has been invited to participate in the “Rachel’s Challenge Chain Reaction.” The schools in Dougherty, which implemented the “Friends of Rachel” clubs in August, has started the “Chain Reaction of Compassion” in the community.
To that end, Teenage Support Council team leaders from the county’s schools and along with school nurses and counselors have been leading students to demonstrate the chain reaction using paper chains made in each of the schools.
The chains were created to represent acts of kindness to one another — one link for each act — and schools put them on display Thursday for the community to see, and so each school could symbolically link its chains with other schools. Along with the chains came banners from the individual schools that students signed.
The tops of the banners read “I Accept Rachel’s Challenge.”
The goal was to wrap the chains around the track at least once — which the students of DCSS managed to accomplish with the participation of all the schools within the system.
Rachel Scott was the first person killed at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. Her acts of kindness and compassion coupled with the writings she left behind have become the foundation for what is considered to be some of the most life-changing school programs in America.
Since July, Darrell Scott, Rachel’s father and her brothers, Craig and Mike, have done presentations in Albany to formally introduce the concept the late teen’s life inspired.
Today, “Rachel’s Challenge” has specific programs that address both students and educators in high schools, middle schools and elementary schools as well as corporate leaders. Among the program’s goals is to promote compassion and kindness as a way of decreasing bullying in schools and communities.
The officials with the school system say it has had an impact on Dougherty for the better.
“This has made a major difference,” said Barbara Turner, coordinator for student support services for DCSS. “It is empowering for kids to know they can make a difference. If we can do this and wrap it around the (Hugh Mills) track, what will happen if we put it into the community?
“This is what it is all about. These kids are all pledging to do something good for another person.”
Now, the community — businesses and organizations — have been challenged to make chains throughout the city. Officials are hoping to bring the school and community chains together next year in order to bet the current record for a “Rachel’s Challenge” chain — which is 28 miles.
“When we come together with the city, we will be able to see it (the chain) wherever we go,” Barber said.
Thursday’s event preceded a week of events planned during the Red Ribbon Week celebration, running from Sunday through Oct. 30. Phoebe and DCSS will host a Rachel’s Challenge Day of Compassion on Thursday in recognition of compassion and kindness.
For that day, each school plans to create chains that will wrap around its respective building.