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MTHS Students Commit to 'Be the Change' at Challenge Day

From Manchester schools:

About 125 students and 36 adult staff members and community mentors gathered in the MTHS gym recently for Challenge Day. 

They gathered in a circle, wearing matching blue and gold t-shirts, to share a day designed to build empathy and ignite a movement of compassion and positive change within the school community. Challenge Day's mission is to provide youth and their communities with experiential workshops and programs that demonstrate the possibility of love and connection through the celebration of diversity, truth and full expression.  

Through games, team-building activities, and lots of sharing, the all-day program addresses some common issues seen at most schools including cliques, gossip, rumors, negative judgments, teasing, harassment, isolation, stereotypes, intolerance, racism, sexism, bullying, violence, homophobia, hopelessness, apathy, and hidden pressures to create an image, achieve or live up to the expectations of others. 

Challenge Day presenters Angela Aguilar and Schan Baker began the day with some fun ice-breaker activities that had the whole group dancing, high-fiving and switching seats to meet new people.  Then the large group divided into smaller groups that worked together on activities throughout the day. 

Participants were challenged to adopt the Challenge Day three step formula for creating positive change: NOTICE what's happening; CHOOSE – create a vision for what you  want your life to look like; and ACT –have the courage and commitment it takes to be the change.  Students were also asked to make at least one conscious, positive contribution (also known as an act of change) each day in their communities and schools.

This is the third time Challenge Day has been held in Manchester, according to Vice Principal Tracey Raimondo.  She said that a noticeable positive change in the school climate resulted from the first event, including the formation of the Student Awareness Committee, a group whose mission is to assist students in need by providing things like school supplies, sports equipment and college application fees.  The $3600 cost of Challenge Day was paid for through fundraisers and donations.  The Manchester PTA gave $1000 plus a 500 mini-grant, the Comfort Inn donated rooms for the facilitators, Jersey Mikes donated sandwiches and Mike Leppert donated bottled water.

Challenge Day is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides powerful one-day programs to junior high schools, middle schools, and high schools with students in grades 7-12.  Learn more at www.challengeday.org .



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