Northeast Tarrant

Rachel’s Challenge run, rally and expo celebrate kindness

Jack, 9, and John Tieken lead a pack of runners on the last leg of Rachel's Run at Colleyville High School April 16, 2016.
Jack, 9, and John Tieken lead a pack of runners on the last leg of Rachel's Run at Colleyville High School April 16, 2016. Special to the Star-Telegram

Acts of kindness in memory of a Columbine school shooting victim are the focus of a race, rally and expo at Colleyville Heritage High School April 29.

The Rachel’s Challenge 5K, Rally and Community Expo is an offshoot of Rachel’s Challenge, named after Rachel Scott. Both challenges encourage students to start “a chain reaction of kindness and compassion.”

Grapevine-Colleyville schools have followed a year-round curriculum involving kindness since 2013. It includes KC (Kindness and Compassion) Clubs for elementary students and FOR (Friends Of Rachel) Clubs for secondary students, an annual Kindness Day, service projects and the run, rally and community expo.

“It’s all about starting a chain reaction of good things,” said Emberly Hill, the district’s counseling director.

Students are encouraged to focus on kindness, inclusiveness and befriending those who may be feeling left out. The clubs are the most important part of the program..

“That core group is responsible for generating that same type of energy at their school,” Hill said.

Counselors track acts of kindness at each campus, to the scale of thousands a year. Last year, some 84,000 acts were recorded around the district.

Hill said that they used paper chain links in the early years of the program to symbolize the good deeds. Now students can use technology. Posters featuring QR, or Quick Response, codes are displayed in buildings, and students can take their mobile devices to access a simple form to record the kind act.

Once the counselors demonstrate the system, “it’s easy enough for a kindergartner to do,” Hill said.

Campuses still use written reminders, such as the outline of a hand with a good deed written in it because Rachel left behind a tracing of her hand with an inspirational message.

Counselors at each school will report the acts of kindness recorded so far in the academic year, so the numbers can be announced and celebrated at the rally.

At the Community Expo, student clubs and local businesses will have free activities and giveaways for students. For the first time, the event is sponsored, so students and staff members can run the 5K free of charge, unless they want to purchase a T-shirt. The Grapevine-Colleyville Education Foundation is the primary sponsor.

Sandra J. Engelland: 817-390-7323, @SandraEngelland

Rachel’s Challenge 5K, Rally and Community Expo

  • Race day registration starts at 7 a.m., the timed 5K run at 8 a.m. The fee for adult 5K registration and students and staff who want T-shirts is $20.
  • The rally is at 9 a.m. with special speakers at 9:30 a.m.
  • The free community fair runs from 9 to 11 a.m.
  • All events are at Colleyville-Heritage High School, 5401 Heritage Ave., Colleyville.