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New Program Promotes Anti-Bullying Message

It's a life lesson being taught in schools nationwide and now, right here in our region.
BELLEFONTE, CENTRE COUNTY - It's a life lesson being taught in schools across the nation and now, right here in our region.

The program is called "Rachel's Challenge." It's goal is to educate students about the dangers of bullying and create a safer learning environment in classrooms nationwide.

Several students and teachers at Bellefonte High School pushed to bring the program to their school.

It's all about a chain reaction that's needed to stop bullying.

"You can make a difference if you smile at somebody and it just keeps going, a chain reaction," Marissa Wenrick said.

A chain reaction and a message of compassion.

"There's a lot of people that pick on each other. There is a lot of verbal bullying," Wenrick said.

That's something Bellefonte High School Junior Marissa Wenrick wants to see change.

"Walking through the halls, you definitely hear a ton of things, some things you want to hear, some things you don't," she said.

Marissa is part of a small committee bringing a new program to the high school.

"Her main goal in life was to be nice to people," junior Jordan Corman said. "Her motto is to start a chain reaction, that if you'll do one act of kindness, you can start a chain reaction across the world of kindness."

Rachel Joy Scott's life was cut short on April 20, 1999. She was one of the students killed in the Columbine High School shooting.

Now, her parents are working to fulfill their daughter's life goal to inspire others to be kind, through a program called "Rachel's Challenge."

"I saw it when I was in middle school and I loved it, so I knew, as a teacher, that we had to bring it to the school I worked in," Jamie Ervine said.

Ervine teaches math at the high school. She sees bullying all the time, but hopes the program will teach students how to better interact with one another.

"They're little red strips of paper we give to students when they've done something kind or worked together," she said. "We're going to staple those together and have it strung around the school."

A constant reminder.

"Of having kindness and being kind and really promoting it and doing that," Ervine said. "If you smile at one person, they'll smile at you."

The links will be given out to students that demonstrate kindness to others throughout the year. The school hopes by the end of the year, the chain will stretch across campus.

The "Rachel's Challenge" program will kick off at 7 a.m. Thursday in the Bellefonte High School Auditorium. The event is sponsored by the Jeremy Herbstritt Foundation and is open to the public.
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