Ouachita County Medical Center - Anti-Bullying: Rachel's Challenge
Ouachita County Medical Center (OCMC) recognizes the impact that violence has on the health of communities and individuals. Violence that is the result of bullying is prevalent in today’s society. Bullying does not discriminate based upon age, race, gender, ethnicities or socioeconomic status. Bullying touches every sector of society – business, education, health care, politics – the aged and the young.
OCMC recognized the negative impact that bullying has on school-age children, in particular, and committed to make a positive difference. Statistics show that approximately 160,000 students nationwide skip school every day for fear of being bullied. OCMC leadership acknowledged the problem and the potential negative impact on the lives of children in their community and they wanted to do something to help inhibit bullying among their student population. In 2014, they were introduced to Rachel’s Challenge.
Rachel’s Challenge was developed from one of the most tragic occurrences in America – the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999, and the death of Rachel Joy Scott, who was the first person killed in the shooting that day. After her death, many students that Rachel had reached out to shared stories with the Scott family about the profound impact her simple acts of kindness had on their lives – even preventing one young man from taking his own life. The Scotts started the non-profit organization that is Rachel’s Challenge.
Rachel’s vision to start a chain reaction of kindness and compassion is the basis for the mission of the organization. The goal of the program is to inspire and equip every person with the ability to create a permanent positive change not only in themselves, but in their schools, businesses and communities. The objective of the program is to continue Rachel’s legacy of kindness and compassion and to help schools and communities become safer, more connected places in which to live and learn.
OCMC was the major sponsor of Rachel’s Challenge, providing the finances to bring the program to the community, as well as the staff to promote the program to local schools and coordinate its presentation in the schools. The hospital also provided an evening community event that opened the program to the general public.
All schools in Ouachita County allowed their students to attend the program, which was held at Camden-Fairview High School. The schools provided transportation for students who attended schools outside of Camden. Approximately 1,500 students attended the program, which was so moving, that at times one could hear a pin drop in the gymnasium. The anti-bullying message is strong and powerful. Feedback from school administration has been positive.
Per Peggy Abbott, OCMC president/CEO, “Hospitals should not be held primarily responsible for communicating the anti-bullying, anti-violence message to our communities, but we have a role – a very valuable role. We care for those who are injured. How much better if we commit to help with developing leaders within the school systems who can be ‘boots on the ground’ to instill an environment that promotes kindness and compassion?”
OCMC commits to providing support to the local community to promote the anti-bullying, anti-violence message.
Contact: Peggy Abbott
President/Chief Executive Officer
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