Local school aims to combat bullying with 'Rachel's Challenge'

Photo provided by staff.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 8:00pm

It's a problem making national headlines right now, bullying. It’s something that caused one young girl to take her life.

“Little kids they are killing themselves because they are getting bullied its making them feel so bad that they are literally hanging themselves,” said seventh grade student, Gracie Legvine.

In the wake of National Bullying Prevention Month, schools across Louisiana are taking a stand. With social media and the internet becoming more available to younger kids, the bullying is taking many shapes and forms. It's why Gonzales middle school is doing what it can do tackle the issue.

Rachel Joy Scott was one of the first victims of the Columbine shootings, so her family started Rachel’s Challenge. That challenge was brought to a few schools in Ascension Parish, including Gonzales middle. It’s a program and club that nearly 100 students decided they wanted to be a part of, to combat bullying.

"When he bullied me it was like he didn't think he would hurt me but it really did," noted Legvine.

Gracie Legivne was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago but her peers used what was already hurting her to cause even more pain.

"He told me I was a bald head because I have cancer and I have a bald spot.”

Now older and emotionally stronger, Gracie uses her experience as a way to be her best.

“It doesn't matter what they say because what you think of yourself is enough," Legvine noted.

But it's not just Gracie who’s been a victim; most students have encountered a bully.

“I did get called names now and then and i wouldn't let it get to me but here and there it would hurt," said seventh grader, Alysha Sharper.

So Alysha and Gracie joined friends of Rachel’s Challenge, a club to prevent bullying and spread positivity.

"They wanted to spread her legacy of spreading kindness and compassion throughout the world," said Gonzales Middle School teacher, Kasie Fallo.

Teachers like Fallo say the impact Rachel’s Challenge has had on her students is undeniable.

“It’s going to take a lot of time not just at our school but we know its a problem across the nation.”

In a study done just last year by Gonzales Middle School they asked all the 6th grade what they would do if they saw a bullying situation and 20 percent said they would ignore it. Of the 7th graders, 40 percent said they would ignore it which is why they are fully embracing Rachel’s Challenge this year.

Gracie uses the projects they have in the club, to spread kindness, in hopes that it will reach the ones who are starting it all.

“It takes all the kids that have been bullied or the bullies and it changes them,” said Legvine. “It makes the bullies better people and it shows them what they have done to the other kids."

The Friends of Rachel’s Challenge Club meets once a month and will continue as long as they have participation.

As for Gracie, her cancer has not spread and they hope to have her out of chemo by December.


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