Rachel's Challenge: Bonham students 'cross the line' to break down barriers




Posted on January 7, 2011 at 4:27 PM

A few small steps taken in silence prove a powerful point. It's all part of Rachel's Challenge, a movement sweeping across North Texas.

In Bonham, it's a day of activities. Some seem silly, as children pass hula hoops around, without breaking a circle, but others are more serious.

"What we find with teenagers is a lot of them shut down," said Sarah Branion, a Program Delivery Manager with Rachel's Challenge. "They don't feel like they have anyone to reach out to."

Rachel's Challenge was inspired by one girl, Rachel Scott. She was a victim of the Columbine school massacre.

"Rachel Scott gave us such an incredible inspiration of courage and compassion. It is so simple what each of us can do to change the world," said Branion.

This is the third year the Bonham Independent School District has participated in Rachel's Challenge.

The biggest lesson on this day is one taught in silence.

"There might be some things you're admitting to that you've never said before," said Branion. "It's a step. Boys and girls reveal pieces of their lives."

Statement by statement, one by one children cross the line.

They face their fears and their peers.

As Branion says, you remove the labels, and you remove the power to bully. Crossing the Line is a new activity for Rachel's Challenge. One aimed at breaking down barriers.

"You don't really think people have so many problems in their lives and they really do," said Cristina Loera, a Bonham ninth grader.

As Branion says, "You've got a chance to look across at someone and really get some support."

And they do get it.


Hands over their hearts, students left behind, those that didn't cross, silently reach out, making eye contact with their peers.

"It just goes to show until we do an activity like that, we don't know anyone," said Sonny Cruse, Bonham ISD superintendent. "Just because we talk to them, we see what they drive, we see where they live, we really don't know them."

It's a day of lessons that are already paying off.

"More people are being kind, there's not as much bullying," said Madeline Wells, a Bonham eighth grader. "It's a breath of fresh air here in Bonham."