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Challenge Day notes.docx

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SOC 4010
J.Bruce Morton

What is Challenge Day “Challenge Day is a 501 c(3)non-profit organization that helps people learn to connect through powerful, life-changing programs in their schools and communities. The day-long, interactive 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. ( FAQ page).” Challenge Day brings together “students from grades eight to twelve with volunteers and facilitators” in a day of “sharing, personal exploration and growth (Tribune Nov 2010).” It Challenges all participants to “step out of their comfort zones, open their hearts, and build connections with others (The Weekly Anchor 2010).” Challenge Day is a place where issues of “bullying, racism and violence” are brought to the attention of students and other participants whilst also providing a safe space to discuss personal experiences and learn attentive listening skills (Tribune Nov 2010). With this in mind the day helps everyone understand that they are not alone in the experiences they have had, no matter how traumatic (Tribune Nov 2010). Challenge Day Vision, Mission and Goals “Challenge day’s vision is that every child lives in a world where they feel safe, loved and celebrated” and thus their mission “is to provide youth and their communities with experiential programs that demonstrate the possibility of love and connection through the celebration of diversity, truth, and full expression. ( Home Page)” Challenge Day manages this throughout the day by integrating the following goals into their activities, on their posters and promotion paraphernalia:  “Notice: Wake up to how people are treating one another  Choose: Choose the school and life of your dreams  Act: Take action to make your dreams a reality ( Program Page).” Another main goal of the Challenge Day program is to promote an increase of “personal power and self-esteem” and to allow participating students, teachers, facilitators and adults to “speak out about what is really going on with them (The Weekly Anchor 2010).” This then translates to “compassion and respect in schools and communities” which is vital in the fight against bullying and violence that are a factor in many students lives. Challenge Day Activities Challenge Day is a day filled with “games, activities and trust building exercises to help develop new levels of empathy and respect for each other (The Weekly Anchor 2010).” An example of one of the guard dropping games is the “Laboratory of Love” where all participants dance, link arms, jump up and down, high five and more (The Chilliwack Progress 2011). The initial fun activities then lead into more in-depth, real, activities where students, adults and facilitators explore themselves, listen to others and break down barriers. One of the main activities for this is the “if you really knew me” exercise where small groups sit in a circle and take turns saying “if you really knew me then you would know....” Although this sounds really simple and uneventful the stories that come from this can be extremely powerful, emotional and sometimes can be a narrative that they have never revealed before to anyone. And finally the power of Challenge Day really comes through from the “imaginary line” task where everyone is “instructed to cross if their answer to a question was affirmative (The Chilliwack Progress 2011).” The questions start off neutral such as “Have you ever been teased?” and become more intense such as “Have you ever lived with violence?” and many more (The Chilliwack Progress 2011). The act of crossing the line and joining your peers and seeing who has been through the same things you have is extremely powerful and emotional. For more information on the activities presented at Challenge Day and to see how the day impacts many students involved see the following web pages. Results of Challenge Day Figure 1 and 2 both show the results of several self-report surveys of Challenge Day participants conducted by Challenge Day facilitators. Both figures 1 and 2 show the number of students in years 2008-2010 and 2010-2011 who had increased positive feelings in a selection of categories. Figure 1 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 2008-2010 10 0 2010-2011 Figure 2 90 80 70 60 50 40 2008-2010 2010-2011 30 20 10 0 Awareness Safety & SocialAcceptence of Connection & Positive Future Responsibility others & self Expression Orientation Challenge Day participants were also more likely to help peers and family, connect and reach out to peers, give hugs and express love, resolve conflict and take care of themselves ( The following are quotes from some student participants. "Before this experience, there was this guy I didn't like, I didn't know why I didn't like him, I just didn't like him […] Challenge Day helped me realize this entire time I was being ignorant. How could I not like him when I didn't even know him?" (The Chilliwack progress 2011)
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