Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

NASP Children's Fund Brings "Challenge Days" to Middle School

Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

NASP Children's Fund Brings "Challenge Days" to Middle School

Article excerpt

Think back to your middle school years. You'll likely recall an inspirational teacher, an incredible sports victory (or defeat), or an awkward crush. But these brief memories could also be overshadowed by years of exclusion, name-calling, cliques, and bullying. Most students just put their heads down and move to the next class, attempting to ignore it all. And so it goes, generation after generation. How would your world have changed if you had learned that life doesn't have to be this way and that you have the power to change all this for the better? This is the energizing concept that results from "Challenge Day."

Thanks to a grant from the NASP Children's Fund, over 200 Joseph Lane Middle School students in Roseburg, Oregon, experienced Challenge Day-an intense 6 hours of games, serious discussions, and sudden insights designed to inspire youth to follow Mahatma Gandhi's advice to "Be the change you want to see in the world." In a very personal way, students and adult volunteers learned about the cycle of oppression (people who are hurt will hurt others) and how they can break this cycle by refusing to participate. Middle schools are uncomfortable because the students themselves form cliques that exclude and ridicule others. Changing the world can start with something as simple as sitting at whatever table you wish during lunch!

The event was largely inspired/ demanded by the students themselves. Last year, about 80 students experienced a Challenge Day event in a one-shot test to see if this method could improve school climate. Immediately following the first Challenge Day, participating students went to the sponsoring teachers and asked to form a Challenge Day Team to keep the ideas alive. Perhaps they were driven by fairness-about 90% of the students did not have a chance to experience the first Challenge Day-so obviously we needed to do this again, only in a much bigger way!

The self-appointed Challenge Day Team met weekly at 7:00 a.m., before the start of school. Some subcommittees worked on percolating the "notice, choose, act" philosophy throughout the student body, while others wrote grants, held car washes, and begged for donations. Thanks in large part to $2,500 from the NASP Children's Fund, two Challenge Days were held in the spring of 2008. Trainers were provided by "Challenge Day," a nonprofit organization whose website maybe found at www. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.