Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Be the Change...

Yesterday I spent the day at the high school as an adult facilitator for Challenge Day. What is Challenge Day? I wasn't too sure of that myself until I got there. I was told to be prepared to really get out of my comfort zone for the day. I was a little nervous and not sure just what to expect.

I was one of about 40 adult facilitators. Many of the others were faculty members or involved with the PTA. We were given a short orientation before the 100 high school students arrived. I definitely was out of my comfort zone many times during the day. There was a lot of dancing and hugging strangers and opening up and expressing our deepest emotions. It's a good thing I like roller-coasters, because I was on an all day ride yesterday. The emotions swept from carefree and happy, to sad and thoughtful, from laughter to tears, and then back again! was exhausting!

So exactly what is Challenge Day? This is how the website sums it up:

Challenge Day is a non-profit organization that helps young people learn to connect through powerful, life-changing programs in their schools. The Challenge Day program provides teens and adults with tools to tear down the walls of separation, and inspires participants to live, study, and work in an encouraging environment of acceptance, love, and respect.

Using highly interactive and energetic activities, the leaders guide teens on a carefully-designed eye-opening journey of the ways people separate from each other, judge one another, and divide themselves based on race, religion, political, or economic status. The leader's model tools for creating connection and unity and eliminate teasing and bullying.

It is designed to help increase self-esteem, to shift dangerous peer pressure to positive peer support, and reduce the acceptability of teasing, oppression, and all forms of violence. It inspires youth and communities to
Be the Change they wish to see in the world, and challenge others to do the same.

I would describe it as...WOW! It was a great way to spend the day connecting with the youth and other adults in the ways described above. It taught me many things, the least of which was that everyone is struggling deep inside in some way.

Here the students are listening to some instructions and probably wondering what they have got themselves into!


We began the morning by stepping out of our comfort zones through music and some pretty crazy games. The music was awesome and LOUD and it really got everyone loosened up. This game above is Beach Ball V-ball and the leaders were on the outside being cheerleaders. Our team got extra points if we were REALLY good cheerleaders. Our side was MOST AMAZING with our cheer kicks, human pyramids, the wave, the bunny hop, and even a back hand-spring by one leaders! Many of the men were even attempting cartwheels! It was VERY entertaining! Just wish I would have been free to take some photos of the cheerleaders, but I was too busy being one myself and catching the ball when it went out of bounds!

In another game I ended up with about 12 people on my lap! You had to shift right or left according to what they said and if someone was already in the chair you sat on the person's lap. When it got up to five on me, I began to stress just a wee bit. But it was still a blast until they went for the record and WE surely won! Dang! I wish I had a photo of that! Thankfully the nice kid right on my lap tried to help keep them from crushing me!

It was a day filled with LOTS of HUGGING!

And I mean A LOT of HUGGING!

The plan is that when the teens begin to feel safe in the group, they are then willing to be vulnerable with one another and connect as human beings and no longer from stereotypes and labels that have been placed upon them such as nerds, jocks, popular, gangsters, etc. Leaders also spend a portion of the morning talking about the healthy expression of emotions, and the negative effects of keeping feelings inside.

We have more in common than we realize. Regardless of our backgrounds etc. We have the same fears and dreams that everyone else does. School is more than just brand names and best friends. They learned to go deep with feelings. Especially the boys since they are typically trained from day one to be tough and to be a man. They were encouraged to step out of the BE A MAN box. That was cool to watch so many "men" let down their barriers and express their emotions. There were MANY TEARS shed during the day and not just from the females.

During the afternoon, we dove into the issue of social oppression and talked about the impact oppression has on our lives and the lives of people around us. By the end of the afternoon, everyone was challenged to take a stand against oppression, make amends for hurts they have caused each other, and commit to creating change at school and in the community.

The most emotional part of the day was when we did the activity:


You need to watch one of the videos below to really get what this was like. It was a very powerful lesson. You were to cross the line according to what she read. She would read things like, "If you have ever been made fun of for being too fat (or too skinny) or been publicly humilated- cross the line" "If you have ever lost a loved one due to gang related violence- cross the line", "If drugs or alcohol had been part of your family in any way, cross the line" "If you or anyone you know has ever attempted or committed suicide- cross the line" , "If you have lost a loved one due to disease, cross the line", If you have ever made fun of someone and they are in this room - cross the line" It was done in total silence...well not total because there were a lot of sobs and sniffling and even one person that was literally wailing. It was a tough one. When you crossed the line, you were to look back at who didn't cross. No one was ever alone on either side. It made you realize that everyone has something that they are dealing with in life and hopefully we haven't added to it, but helped ease it some. And that even though many things are different about us, we still have so much in common. Very powerful. Check out the last video.

We were grouped into smaller families and given two minutes to express:

"If you really knew me, then you would know that..."

MY FAMILY (hey look I have TWO girls!)

I was so happy that Maddy (one of my YW girls) was in my family!

Our two amazing leaders PAM and TONY

The hand signal for the day was I♥U
I challenge you to↓
For more info, watch OPRAH on Monday Jan. 26th. They will be on it!
Every parent AND youth needs to watch these if they can't be part of Challenge Day.

Remember to pause my playlist at the bottom!

And yes, ONE person can make a difference!

Let it be YOU!

For more on this go to OPRAH'S website HERE.

Sorry if you tried to comment and couldn't. Somehow I disabled it, but I fixed it now.


Femin Susan said...

Hope You enjoy your challenging day. I am sorry to say that i feel difficult to read your blog. Please change the color of font....

julie h said...

Jodi-you did a great job with explaining Challenge Day and what it meant to you!! I loved the pictures. It was an amazing day!! Woo hoo!! I knew you would be an awesome "mom" so glad it worked out that you could go!!

Audrey said...


nancy mc said...

Wow! looks like an amazing thing not only for HS students but all people. Thanks for sharing.

Jeppsons said...

Wow! It sounds like it was awesome. More kids and adults could definitely benefit from something like this.

Maddy♥ said...

Ok so this was pretty much the most amazing day ever. I was so glad to see you there and even more glad to have you in my family!
What are the chances?!

Jodi said...

Me TOO Maddy! That was the best part having YOU in my fam!!! It was amazing!!!


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