A unique end of the year "Rachel's Rally"

We recently heard about a school district in Texas that was having a unique end of the year Rachel's Rally.  We caught up with the school district and interviewed Emberly Hill, the Director of Guidance and Counseling for GCISD (Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District).  She described what her school district collectively does to celebrate all the acts of kindness that happened in the past school year.

Rachel’s Challenge:  What is going on today in your school district?

Emberly:  Today is our annual Rachel’s Challenge 5K and Community Rally.  We have partnered with Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District (GCISD in Texas), the PTA’s Healthy Lifestyles, and Diversity Advisory Lifestyle Committees to bring an event to celebrate the culmination of all of our work throughout the year with Rachel's Challenge.  Rachel’s Challenge is our character education program that we adopted as a district.  We encourage our kids to promote kindness, compassion, and respect throughout the year.  But to culminate and celebrate the good work that they do through the year, then we have this event. We’ve already had our 5K.  It’s very exciting.  And now we have about 70 vendors here to share in our event.  The whole point of the event today is just to promote kindness and respect and celebrate what good work our students do and our staff, in our community.

Rachel’s Challenge:  How many acts of kindness were documented this past school year in your district?

Emberly:  This year in GCISD, campuses were able to record 85,762 acts of kindness!  We are so proud of our students, staff, faculty, parents, and community for helping us continue the chain reaction of kindness.

Rachel’s Challenge:  What’s the criteria for a vendor to be here?

Emberly:  We ask that vendors are providing some kind of healthy choice, whether nutritional, social or just any kind of healthy choice.  That’s what we want.  We don't want anybody selling anything.  We just want to celebrate people making healthy choices.

Rachel’s Challenge:  Can you tell me about the wristbands, chain links, and t-shirts that you have around the rally?

Emberly:  We have some permanent kindness link reminders and those are the green wristbands that we are encouraging students to wear and those will hopefully remind students to always be kind.  We have kindness links that students can actually write out an act of kindness that they've witnessed today or act of kindness they've actually participated in and then we have Rachel’s Challenge t-shirts from previous years here if anyone is interested in buying them.  

Rachel’s Challenge:  Why do you have a 5K run as a part of your rally?

Emberly:  We have a 5K run so that we can celebrate a part of the healthy choices.  It’s just a community piece of bringing everybody together we believe that's an event that is likely to bring people to our event and bring them together.

It gives us a chance to celebrate with our community.

Rachel’s Challenge:  How long have you been doing this event?

Emberly:  This is our 6th event.  Our 6th annual Rachel’s Challenge Rally.

Rachel’s Challenge:  Why do you do this event year after year?

Emberly:  We’re excited to do it every year. We hope everybody comes back next year. It’s bigger and better every year.  It’s so fun because people are so happy to be here.  You look at all the kids' faces and they’re just excited and the vendors are excited to be here.  It gives us a chance to celebrate with our community.  It’s so exciting to see how happy kids are and I love the fact the kids are being kind to each other and promoting respect. This is really a kid friendly event, which is what we want.  We want an event where our community feels safe, comfortable and fun. They can come together and enjoy each other's company. 

Rachel’s Challenge:  Can you tell me more about your two speakers that you lined up for this event?

Emberly:  Ryan Young is a former pro-NFL player.  He talked to us about bullying and how kids can be up-standers and stand up against bullying and help each other out and that it’s important celebrate all of our differences.  And then we had Gabe Salazar here.  He is a youth minister and professional speaker and he talked about bullying as well and how students can be really helpful in promoting kindness and standing up for each other. 

Rachel’s Challenge:  Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Emberly:  You cannot have truly excellent schools unless you have a culture of kindness, compassion, and mutual respect that permeates throughout every classroom, office and building in the district.  That's why the Rachel's Challenge program is so important and so valuable to our district. From our youngest students at the Early Childhood Development Center to our graduating Seniors, we continue to develop the BEST character education through Rachel's Challenge!

If you would like to share your FOR Club project with Rachel’s Challenge, please contact Janet Stumbo at jstumbo@rachelschallenge.org.

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