2COM hopes to issue challenge

REGION 16 — In an effort to enact cultural change, 2COM is hoping to bring Rachel’s Challenge to Region 16 schools.

“It’s really about changing the culture of our schools, every school,” said Trish Spofford, a member of 2COM.

2COM, which stands for 2 Communities, 1 Mission, is a task force designed to promote healthy behaviors in the community and Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect.

Spofford gave a presentation on Rachel’s Challenge to the Board of Education March 13.

Rachel’s Challenge is a series of programs and strategies that equip students and adults to combat bullying and allay feelings of isolation and despair by creating a culture of kindness and compassion, according to the organization’s website. The programs are based on the writings and life of 17 year-old Rachel Scott, who was the first student killed at Columbine High School in 1999. It was started by Scott’s parents.

The program would consist of assemblies at each school and community events at Woodland Regional High School and Long River Middle School. In addition, FOR (Friends of Rachel) Clubs would be started at Woodland and Long River. Rachel’s Challenge would provide a training session for 100 pre-selected students at each school and a support package of materials to get the clubs off their feet.  

The assemblies would be geared for different age groups, Spofford said. The program for elementary school students would not include any information on the shootings at Columbine, she said.

The bottom line of the program is compassion and small acts of kindness, Spofford said.

“That’s what the presentation will drive home,” she said.

2Com is seeking $16,000 to pay for the program.

Spofford said the district can do less than what she presented to reduce the cost and described the program she wants to bring to Region 16 as the “Cadillac version.” However, she contended, the program can enact sustainable change in schools. 

“If you’re going to do something well, you should do it well,” Spofford told the board.

Money for the program is not currently included in Superintendent of Schools Tim James’ proposed budget for the 2014-15 school year. Officials are also seeking grants and donations to help offset the cost of the program, if it’s approved.

James said the program will be on the school board’s agenda for its March 26 meeting.

If it’s approved, Spofford said, 2COM is looking to run the program in the fall in an effort to keep any momentum going throughout the school year.   

“We don’t want Rachel’s Challenge to be a one-hit wonder,” she said.

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