WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — Rachel's Challenge is to "inspire and equip" the replacement of violence with kindness, and thanks to an anonymous donation the program will come to Westborough in February.
"People have said to a "T" that it's one of the best, most inspiring kind of events they've had for kids and parents," Assistant Schools Superintendent Dan Mayer said.
The donor was touched by the Newtown, Conn. shootings, Mayer said, and wanted to bring the program to Westborough through the donation "worth thousands of dollars," Mayer said.
The program was developed in memory of Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim of the Columbine, Colo. school shootings in 1999.
"It's a way for the whole community to come together and reflect on our values," Mayer said. "I think it's a wonderful gift and we are very appreciative of whoever the anonymous donor is."
"Age appropriate" programs will be presented to Westborough students in grades four through 10 during school on Feb. 28 and March 1. A community event will also be presented at 7:30 p.m. in the Westborough High School auditorium on Feb. 28. Those in grades six and up are invited to attend with family and friends.
The program's goal is to teach students how to replace violence, bullying and negativity with acts of respect, kindness and compassion, according to a news release.
“After receiving this unexpected call we researched other communities that have sponsored this event and heard nothing but glowing reviews," O'Connor said in the release. "As a result, we graciously accepted the donation. We are excited to be able to provide such an inspiring program for our students and our community and are looking forward to an excellent turnout.”
The content of the program is based on the writings and life of Scott, who "left a legacy" of reaching out to those who were different and treating them with compassion, according to RachelsChallenge.org.
The program was started by Rachel's father and stepmother, Darnell and Sandy, after finding that Rachel's writings and drawings resonated with such a large number of students and community members.
"Rachel’s story gives us permission to start our own chain reaction of kindness and compassion, which positively affects the climate in our schools and communities,” according to the program's website.