October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Woodward Friends of Rachel (FOR) met on Oct. 1, kicking off the month with words of kindness.
"Students wrote complimentary and inspiring messages. We randomly picked lockers to attach the messages to, in hopes it would spread kindness and positivity to our student body,” 6th through 8th Grade teacher and Friends of Rachel Sponsor Susan Moyer said. “Last year, we did this and found out so many kids were excited to get something as simple as saying, have an awesome day.”
Moyer says bullies often have a low self-esteem. These low key gestures seem to hook a student’s attention.
“Sometimes they will make a turnaround when they start being around more positivity,” Moyer said. “A light bulb will come on and they finally understand. They start to reflect kindness and they let up on the bullying.”
Friends of Rachel students are also participating in the Middle School counselor’s shoe drive and a food drive this year. They are also helping WOOF Pet Rescue.
Another activity they will be doing is rock painting. The students use paint pens to write inspirational messages on the rocks, then randomly distribute them around Woodward at places like Crystal Beach, the downtown park and other places.
“Community members may pick up the rock and cling to the hope,” Moyer said. “That there is a ray of sunshine, or somebody cares. (The rock message) may make their day.”
Friends of Rachel is part of Rachel’s Challenge, an organization named after the first person killed in the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999, a girl who’s simple acts of kindness had a profound impact on fellow schoolmates, even after her death. The purpose of FOR is creating a school climate less susceptible to harassment, bullying and violence, according to the website.
“Our FOR students also send words of encouragement to El Paso, Texas students after the August shooting,” Moyer explained. “It was traumatic for those that had family members injured and we are hoping our messages lifted their spirits.”