160,000 students skip school every day because they are afraid. Why is that?
By Rob Unger, CEO, Rachel’s Challenge
If we don’t feel safe and connected it puts us in a fight, flight or freeze mode. These 160,000 kids are in flight mode. For every one of them, there is likely another fighting the system or paralyzed by fear. None of them are in a state conducive to learning.
Isolation, harassment and violence are unfortunately the norm for too many young people. It doesn’t have to be this way. Creating a school environment less susceptible to harassment and violence is possible. At Rachel’s Challenge we see it happening in culturally diverse schools across North America every day.
It is happening in schools that diligently work to build a positive school culture. Easy to say. Hard to do. These positive school ecosystems are always built on a solid foundation.
Safe + Belong = Connected; Connected > Hurting Self or Others; Connected = Achievement.
If students have a sense of safety and belonging they feel connected. When they feel connected they are less likely to hurt themselves or others. And they are capable of performing much better in school and in life. This foundation is the soil where security, identity and belonging take root; which in turn leads to the fruit of achievement. The better the soil, the deeper the root, and the more stable the culture becomes.
This foundation is built by: 1) awakening a desire for change in students and staff; 2) creating awareness and compassion for self and others; and 3) building student-to-student and teacher-to-student connections.
Building this strong foundation requires, first, a catalyst; a story or significant emotional event that ignites the passion for connection, hope and change. Rachel’s Challenge is world class at creating this spark.
This flame must then be fueled by: 1) relevant student, teacher and staff training; 2) simple classroom strategies and content; and 3) meaningful service within the school and community. These elements work together to help create the foundation for a culture where students and teachers feel safe and connected; and achievement can flourish.
Last year Rachel’s Challenge delivered 796,000 hours of training to students and educators across North America. This affords us the privilege of seeing first-hand, every day, the positive results and mental health benefits of a solid culture and healthy climate.
What would the impact on your schools, your community, our world, be if those 160,000 students felt safe and connected, and flourished? Together we can make that happen.