On October 10, 2012, 100 lucky students and 35 lucky adults at Aviara Middle School will experience the schools's second Challenge Day, the amazing anti-bullying program that inspired the MTV show "If You Really Knew Me." If you are not familiar with this astounding program you should be, especially if you have children. This program comes at a perfect time, as October is anti-bullying month.
Challenge Day is a day long workshop that provides an experience that is both eye-opening and life-altering. It involves a series of exercises, in both large and small group settings, that make each participant not only think about their own behaviors, beliefs and actions, but also humanizes the suffering of those who are taunted, jeered, teased, ignored and mistreated. Participants are challenged to step outside of their comfort zones and not only share, but listen.
As a participant in Challenge Day at AOMS last year, this powerful day of sharing and opening up was profound for me. Having been bullied as a young woman, and having always helped to promote anti-bullying efforts in schools and communities, I thought nothing would surprise me; but I was wrong. To hear some of the stories from these young people and from other adults, my heart ached...but even more so, I felt empowered and enabled. But by the end of the day I knew that programs like this CAN really help.
My hope is that school districts across the country will find ways to offer this progam to ALL students. If every student could experience Challenge Day, I truly believe in my heart that bullying would eventually stop. Challenge Day teaches how to stand up against bullying, how to help those who are being mistreated, and how powerful one's actions can be. Every person who goes through this workshop leaves with s sense of power and strength, with a desire to help others. Words cannot express the intensity of the impact.
Other San Diego County schools have offered this program, including Torrey Pines High School, which does so annually. The program reaches far beyond the day of the workshop, as many students form "Be the Change" committees that continue to meet on campuses, to help spread the word and help prevent bullying.
From the press release: "Challenge Day was formed as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in 2001. Today, its programs have reached hundreds of thousands of young people across North America and around the world.
The Challenge Day program has received numerous awards from the Juvenile Justice System, the D.A.R.E. Officers Association, government officials, and many school districts and cities nationwide. Challenge Day has also been featured on Tom Brokaw’s recent USA network special "Bridging the Divide" and on The Oprah Winfrey Show."
For more information on Challenge Day, and to help bring the program to your school, please visit challengeday.org. To see episodes of "If You Really Knew Me," the MTV showed based on Challenge Day, visit mtv.com/shows/if_you_really_knew_me/series.jhtml. Kudos to Carlsbad mom Chris Tempesta for working so hard in getting this program to Aviara Middle School!