Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Challenge Day

Today, as a part of my work--but also as a part of what I feel is important--I attended what is called Challenge Day. The program, meant to provide youth with the opportunity to feel love, connection and change within and outside of their schools, runs from morning to mid-afternoon and (as I was forewarned) is packed thick with emotion.

I arrived early as an adult volunteer and wasn't sure what to expect. Hesitant and distant teenagers, who would be embarrassed to open up and be themselves in a large group? Reluctant youth scrambling for the nearest exit? I was quickly proven wrong.

The students in this group were astounding--all participated in different games and activities designed to build a sense of trust among the group, and all, at some point throughout the day, opened up to their peers about the struggles they face in their lives. Some have witnessed abuse, others have lost a loved one, many have felt alone at some point. All are courageous, and all are inspiring.

For myself, it was a test of endurance, how long could I hold out my emotions before letting what I feel and what I think completely engulf me. It didn't take long. Before I knew it I was crying with the others, embracing my fellow peers and divulging into my own balloon of worries and insecurities. It turns out that there are things in my life, too, that are at times difficult to maintain and compose. And it felt good, to cry about those things.

This program blew me away and left me feeling empowered and hopeful. That youth who struggle with family, friends, self-esteem, have some sort of outlet for their emotion and that--given the right support--will grow to feel loved, proud of who they have become.

Challenge Day's vision: that every child lives in a world where they feel safe, loved and celebrated.

We need to give more love. Every day. We need to hug and support and encourage those in our lives, even when we feel they don't need it.

"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." - Dumbledore

visit www.challengeday.org for more info.

1 comment:

  1. I've talked to a few people who've been through challenge day, and I feel rather envious that we didn't have it when we were in high school. Your experience also affirms it as not only an important, but I would dare to say, a necessary opportunity for our youth.



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