Recent suicides of teenagers who were bullied have brought light to a growing epidemic in our country. Within the last few weeks, Jamey Rodemeyer, 14-years-old, took his own life after being bullied online for over a year with gay slurs. Almost one year ago, Tyler Clemente took his own life by jumping off a bridge after his dorm-room encounter with another man was recorded and went viral.
A recent survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics shows 39% of sixth-graders report being bullied. Another study conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network shows 90% of gay and lesbian youth report being bullied. With these alarming statistics, the attorneys and staff at WKW decided to do something to help stop this trend.
A few weeks ago, WKW had a unique opportunity to sponsor and take part in a program with Washington Township Middle Schools called Challenge Day. Since 1987, Challenge Day has served more than 1,000,000 youth in 400 cities, 45 U.S. States and five provinces of Canada. Challenge Day’s mission is to provide youth and their communities with experiential workshops and programs that demonstrate the possibility of love and connection through the celebration of diversity, truth and full expression. The 6.5 hour Challenge Day program is created to build connection and empathy, and to fulfill their vision that every child lives in a world where they feel safe, loved and celebrated. Challenge Day is more than a one-day program; it is the spark that ignites a movement of compassion and positive change.
Challenge Day is a daylong event, and by the end of the afternoon, participants have an opportunity to take a stand against oppression, make amends for hurts they have caused each other, and state their commitment to creating change in their school and community. The day was both inspiring and awakening for the students and the adult volunteers.
To find out more about Challenge Day, please visit their website at www.challengeday.org.