Rachel Scott’s Lessons Of Kindness Still Resonate 16 Years After Columbine

Rachel Scott lost her life during the Columbine High School shooting, a tragic and heartbreaking event that challenged our ideas of safety in public schools and cast a spotlight on the disastrous effects of bullying among peers.

Sixteen years later, students continue to honor the legacy Rachel Scott left behind by challenging themselves to embrace basic principles of kindness toward others. Honoring those ideas both at school and at home may help current and future students prevent bullying and build healthier relationships.

Rachel’s Challenge: The Five Principles

Rachel was known as a person who would perform random acts of kindness, stand up for those being bullied, or simply reach out to the new girl at school. Rachel’s Challenge, a Colorado-based nonprofit organization dedicated to creating safe and connected school environments, is an extension of her outlook. The organization was created after the Columbine shooting to encourage schools to implement a system where kindness and compassion are guiding principles among students, teachers, and the community.

Today, we can all honor the following five principles of Rachel’s Challenge in our own lives:

  • Look for the best in others. Instead of judging or criticizing, look for and appreciate the positives in everyone. Though this can be difficult when dealing with someone who acts or behaves in a hurtful manner, recognizing a person’s good side helps you maintain a happy outlook.
  • Dream big. Don’t be afraid to set lofty goals and maintain a high standard for yourself. This can inspire others to do the same and will keep you focused on a positive goal.
  • Choose positive influences. Surround yourself with positive people and participate in activities that strengthen and empower you. Maintaining a close network of friends that lift you up and make you feel good about yourself — and not at the expense of others — can build confidence and self-esteem.
  • Speak with kindness. Refraining from using harsh words or an unkind tone can work wonders for any type of relationship. Focusing on giving compliments at every opportunity, avoiding gossip, and being respectful when speaking to others generates positivity and encourages others to respond in kind.
  • Start your own chain reaction. Lead the way in being supportive and appreciative. This can start a chain reaction with people around you choosing to pay the kindness forward. Maintaining a positive attitude, nurturing healthy relationships, and reaching out to people who might need help all serve to inspire those around you.

These simple ideas can have a ripple effect in our relationships and our community. Consider embracing some or all of them in your everyday interactions by taking the Rachel’s Challenge pledge or adhering to your own set of guiding principles that focus on kindness.

Image source: Flickr