Challenge Day: An exercise in healthy emotions

By Shelby Stewart
Staff Writer
Brandon Twp.-On Wednesday Brandon High School students along with volunteers were asked to cross a line.
The prerequisite for that step— if they had one of many challenges in their lives, ranging from loss of loved ones to bullying and oppression.
All of the more than 78 participants responded.
The telling activity was part of Brandon High School’s seventh Challenge Days on Dec 5-6.
“I was really taken aback by the number of kids, who when we did the crossing the line activity, how many of them did cross the line,” said Diane Salter, school board president and one of the volunteers. “There are so many challenges that our community doesn’t even realize are going on.”
Challenge day is a societal awareness and kindness project. The two days were funded in part by the school, the student council, and Brandon Groveland Youth Assistance. The organization says it is more than an anti-bullying workshop. It is an exercise in healthy emotional expression and sharing struggles with others. Throughout the course of the days, students and community volunteers shared stories of their personal struggles, hopes and dreams for the future and lots of hugs.
“I feel that when I saw all these kids there that have all these challenges, many, multifaceted, difficult things in life, I do hope they can overcome this and see themselves in a positive way,” said Salter.
Students and volunteers participated in activities that included team building and motivation, encouraged sharing and listening, as well as activities that expressed without words the issues that another person may have gone through in their lives.
Many students expressed that after all the activities and their sharing throughout the day, they felt less alone, more expressive, more heard and have more motivation to be kind and inclusive to others. It also helped students to appreciate themselves and their personal accomplishments. After the whole program, students promised to spread more love, peace and compassion to their classmates, as did the volunteers for the community.
“I think what it’s helped me is to, one, encourage these type of programs that we can give to our kids and two, enforces my support for BGYA and all the work that they do,” said Salter. “I’m walking away with a lot of humbleness, and I would hope that some day we will hear positive stories coming out of these kids, see them on our distinguished alumni wall of fame, and that everything they promised today, that they stick to, and that we get them to feel loved and part of the whole program here.”