If you’ve ever been bullied for your race, skin color, weight, or sexuality…. cross the line. If you’ve ever bullied someone because of their race, skin color, weight or sexuality…. cross the line. If you’ve ever hurt yourself on purpose… cross the line.
These are just a few uncomfortable questions asked during the “power shuffle” portion of Challenge Day. Challenge Day is an anti-bullying program for high schools that teach students that they don’t have to be victims of hate or violence. And it encourages them to break free from the unhealthy grip of cliques. Challenge Day was first founded in 1987 by Rich and Yvonne Durta St. John, a husband and wife with a united passion to help all children feel safe and loved in society. Since it’s birth, the program has reached thousands of students across 39 states and 6 Canadian Provinces.
When I was in high school I remember participating in a few Challenge Days. They took place about once a year in our gymnasium. My school definitely had its share of cliques. The cheerleaders (or what some people called the twinklets or something?), the jocks, the goths (aka: the entire creative writing club), the color guard kids, the gangsters, and ASB (student counsel). The groups were safeguarded, everyone hung out in a specific area, and most were pretty possessive of their hangout spot. As corny as Challenge Day sounded to us, I think it really did help open most of us up. It got uncomfortable at times, but it was necessary. It was hard to be “too cool” during this program. We were all stripped down to the same level. I spoke to people I normally wouldn’t have, making unlikely friendships. And I was grateful for it.
Almost 8 years later I’m happy to see Challenge Day is still working it’s magic and is being featured in a 12 part docu-series by MTV called “If You Really Knew Me.” The leaders of Challenge Day took on Oakley, California’s Freedom High School in last night’s first episode. The reality show will continue to document the effects of bullying and cliques in different high schools and show how the program will work to set these schools free.
[Watch clips from last night's episode HERE]
I try not to watch too much reality TV because, let’s face it… most of it is trash. But this show has a purpose. It’s not another guilty pleasure. I really think this show will reach not only the high school involved, but viewers watching. Bullying has peaked since I was in school and this series is the needed light being shed on what can happen once we shake off the shackles of stereotypes.
Watch Tuesdays at 11/10c on MTV.
Source: MTV and Challenge Day website