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Front Page » October 9, 2007 » Local News » Local youth accept Rachel's Challenge
Published 2,573 days ago

Local youth accept Rachel's Challenge


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By PATSY STODDARD
Editor


Sierra Bridgewater accepts Rachel's Challenge to spread acts of kindness one small step at a time as she signs her name on the poster at Emery High.

The Emery County Youth Summit attendees learned about Rachel's Challenge. Rachel was one of the first people to be shot at Columbine High School. Nicole Nowlen told Rachel's story to the youth. She said the memorial at Columbine High was just completed and she had attended those services. "There were 12 students and one teacher killed at Columbine High. Rachel Scott was a junior at Columbine. She has two older sisters and two younger brothers. She would have been 26 if she was still alive. Rachel believed if one person will go out of their way to show compassion, you never know how far it can go. Test this out yourself and you may start a chain reaction. Six weeks after Rachel wrote the essay on compassion, she was one of those who died. Two suspects, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had placed bombs in the lunchroom and they started by shooting students outside and then moved into the library, 12 students were also injured. The shooting lasted 22 minutes and the suspects ended up shooting themselves in the library.

"SWAT teams entered the school. This is the worst school shooting. They put up lists of the kids who survived and the parents would check the lists and hope their child had survived. One by one families were reunited with their students. We were stunned and filled with sorrow," said Nowlen.

Nowlen was among the injured with a gunshot wound, the doctors told her that being overweight had saved her life, as the bullet didn't hit any vital organs.

Nowlen spoke of Rachel's younger brother Craig who was also in the library at the time of the shooting. He said, "I miss my sister. She led a life committed to kindness. She believed kindness could change the world."

Nowlen said, "I was in the library doing homework when the shooting began and I got under a desk with a boy who later died. People have asked me why talk about something so difficult. I was shot from a foot away and buckshot entered my right side and exited my left. I was released from the hospital the next day. I didn't go back to school right away. But I wouldn't let Eric and Dylan win. I knew I wanted to go back. Now I mainly share Rachel's story. It is important and impactful.

"Students heard a noise outside that sounded like firecrackers. Craig had friends that died on each side of him. He walked out and led people out a side door. He saved several students by doing this," said Nowlen.

Nicole Nowlen shares Rachel Scott's story.

The suspects uttered racial slurs before killing a black student. Rachel gave challenges to others in the essays she wrote. She said to look for the best in others. Eliminate prejudice. Look in a person's eyes and you can see their heart. Many times we don't give others a chance and we don't get to know people. How we treat each other can eliminate prejudice. Look for the best and you will find it. Rachel identified with Anne Frank and read her diary. Now Rachel's journal has been published.

The suspects chose April 20 for their shooting spree because that was Adolf Hitler's birthday.

"You need to have clear written goals for your life. A study was done of Harvard students and they were asked if they had written goals. Three percent said they did and 97 percent did not. Ten years later the 3 percent with written goals were making 10 times more than those without written goals," said Nowlen.

Rachel's dad said, "Rachel, your life was so meaningful and your death will not be in vain. I love you so much my sweet, Rachel."

Nowlen said, "Rachel's dad has spoke before Congress and he's been on TV with Oprah Winfrey and Larry King. We have talked to 1 million students across the country. This is the way for her life not to be in vain. After Rachel had died, the family found an outline of Rachel's hand on the back of a dresser which said, 'These hands belong to Rachel Scott and they will touch millions of lives.'

"Dare to dream and write down your goals. Keep a journal. Rachel kept journals. In one of her journals she wrote, 'I won't be labeled as average.'

"Craig was bitter and angry for a long time. But, eventually he did end up going back to school. He realized you can't be angry forever. Craig wanted to make movies and he is making movies with positive values. The suspects were influenced by violence in the media. They watched violent movies and listened to music with violent lyrics. My mom used to say, garbage in, garbage out and that's what happened with Harris and Klebold. What you choose to surround yourself with, you will give away to others.

Rachel Scott who died at Columbine High School.

"Rachel died four months before her 18th birthday. She had wanted to go sky diving on her 18th birthday. She went bungee jumping on her 16th birthday.

"Rachel once said, 'Don't let your character change color with your environment.' Rachel would take the time for new students at school or handicapped kids and those who are picked on and put down. Rachel would help these students. Amber Jackson was a new girl at school who was being ignored. She sat down alone in the lunch room and Rachel invited her to sit with her and her friends, but Amber declined. So, Rachel and her friends went and sat by her. This made a big difference to Amber, her mom had just passed away and she really needed a friend. Rachel, reached out and treated people good. Look for the people who sit alone in the lunch room. People who don't fit in and are different. Include them. Small things, have big impact. One boy who was handicapped had two bigger boys kick his books around in the hall. Rachel stood up to defend this boy. She put up her fists and said, 'You'll have to go through me to get to him.' The boys walked away and left Adam alone.

"Rachel sought Adam out every day to be nice to him and treated him like a human being. She saw the person on the inside. Calling names is hurtful. Adam was considering suicide, but with Rachel's love he didn't.

"People get pushed. You never know the impact of your words for good or bad. Why don't you treat other people like you treat your friends. We are all people and human . Everyone needs love and acceptance. We are not above other people. Make sure you treat others like you might not see them again. Kind words and little acts of kindness can have huge results. Look for small things to do that have huge results. I have started helping lost people in airports or people with young children.

"One friend said of Rachel, 'She tried to bring together groups of people and show them a nice side of life.' Rachel was awarded the 2001 kindness award by the Acts of Kindness Association. Many people have been impacted by Rachel's story. She always knew she was going to die young. Towards the end, her poetry became dark. One sentence read, 'I want someone to walk with me through these halls,' and she wrote in her journal, 'This will be my last year, Lord.'

"A few weeks after Rachel's death a man called from back east, saying he kept having a dream of Rachel crying and her tears fell on a flower. He asked if this had any meaning to Rachel's father, but he said it didn't. He took down the man's name. About a month later the police called and said the family could pick up Rachel's backpack. So her father went and picked it up and found her journal in the backpack. He wanted to read her last writings. He found a picture she had drawn the morning of her death with crying eyes in the sky and the crying eyes were watering the rose and as the tears reached the rose they turned into blood drops. There were 13 teardrops in the picture, the same number as the people who died later that day," said Nowlen.

Nowlen showed the picture of Rachel taken at the prom. "This is how I want to remember Rachel. The kindness and compassion we show others makes a difference in a lot of peoples' lives. Look hard enough and you will always find a light. Compassion, forgiving, loving, in the end only kindness matters. Find out who you are and let that be your true color. Tell people you love them, say I'm sorry. Start a chain reaction of kindness. Take Rachel's story and let it work on you in the heart," said Nowlen.

Nowlen challenged the students present to take Rachel's Challenge. Posters were hung up in the hall that said "I accept Rachel's Challenge" and the students signed the posters. To learn more about Rachel's challenge you can visit the website, www.rachelschallenge.com.



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