Rachel's Challenge spurs citywide help campaign in Rockwall




Posted on March 28, 2011 at 1:45 AM

ROCKWALL — Rockwall ISD is proving that Rachel's Challenge can change more than students' attitudes; it's a program that can change an entire community.

Hundreds of people took part in 60 events across the city on Saturday, proving it doesn't take long for compassion and service to start a chain reaction.

Whether it's one ramp for one family or a vegetable garden for the entire community, Rachel's Challenge service projects are growing and taking root.

"One person, another person and another person... it is a huge chain reaction," said community garden volunteer Cody Hayes.

It started four years ago as a rally and few charity events around town. Now, the mission known as Students Serving Others has turned into a part of the culture.

Rockwall schools are teaching students to give back, and — in turn — those young people are teaching their parents the core principles of Rachel's Challenge.

"Friendship and compassion and treating other people how you want to be treated," said Rockwall student Lake Johnson.

To make sure everyone got involved, elementary students stuffed duffel bags for local shelter, giving abused children something to make them smile.

Others wrote letters and drew pictures for soldiers serving overseas.

And at the stadium, little feet, fuzzy feet and regular feet circled the track to raise money for Special Olympics.

"We feel like we have needs within our own community," said Rockwall ISD director of counseling Kim West. "What better way for our kids to learn about giving back than to serve those here who they live with and live beside day by day?"

Older kids got messy. They went through barrels of paint to make over a local gymnasium and to brighten the rooms at a the Boys and Girls Club.

"I wanted to do this for my community because it's what is right to do," said volunteer Julia Hale. "It's what I want to do. I don't feel like I need anything back besides knowing this is going to change people's lives."

On Saturday, volunteers worked with the students, proving that when Rockwall serves others, the changes are deeper than just a coat of fresh paint.'

WFAA has teamed up with Rachel's Challenge, a non-profit organization that encourages students through compassion and kindness.

The program was started in honor of Rachel Scott, the first victim in the Columbine shootings.

A a part of our partnership, WFAA will be hosting a town hall meeting: "Beyond Bullying: Empowering Change."

Join News 8 anchor John McCaa on Thursday March 31 at 7 p.m. to get beyond bullying and learn how to empower and improve your child's life.

The event will be at the Utley Middle School Performing Arts Center in Rockwall.