By Brooke Pleau
How many challenges are you faced with everyday? How many of these problems or challenges come from issues you face when you are at school?
Several Renfrew County high schools are taking part in Challenge Day which is coming to the area between April 23 and April 26. More than 240 teens and 80 adults will experience what is described as an innovative workshop, designed to break down barriers and promote school and community environments based in understanding, acceptance and love.
The Challenge Day program is over six-hours long.
It was founded by Rich and Yvonne Dutra-St. John. Rich was a licensed family therapist and drug intervention specialist. He is now a faculty member at Cal State East Bay University. Yvonne is known for working in various prevention and intervention programs for teenagers.
Challenge Day encourages students, staff, and even parents to attend and be prepared to step outside of their comfort zone. The leaders of the group need to first establish a trust relationship through ice breaker games and music. It is very emotional and addresses issues that students may deal with everyday including cliques, gossip, rumours, negative judgement, teasing, harassment, homophobia, sexism, racism, bullying and many more.
According to program officials, there are three steps that must be established and followed in order for Challenge Day to be successful. These steps are referred to as the ‘Challenge Day Formula for Change.’ The first step is ‘Notice,’ with the students needing to acknowledge how they are treating one another. ‘Choose,’ is where students choose the school of their dreams and the life that they wish to have, and discover they need to be the positive change. The final step is ‘Act,’ meaning students need to act upon their wishes to make their dreams a reality.
This opportunity was brought about by the Student Support Leadership Initiative which promotes successful and sustainable relationships.
“The SSLI is delighted to work with the volunteers and staffs at these secondary schools in continued efforts to explore understanding, empathy and respect in our school communities,” the initiative stated in a press release.
The Challenge Day program travels around to middle schools and high schools throughout the United States and Canada. It was founded in 2001 and has already served more than a million youth in forty-five states and five provinces. Challenge Day has received numerous awards and has been featured in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, Teen Files: Surviving High School and on the Oprah Winfrey Show.