Challenge Day is a program that comes to high schools all across America and works with students to help break down cliques and get them talking about their problems. All too often, today’s young people don’t discuss their trials with others. Instead, they substitute their hardships with false personas. MTV picked up this program last fall and turned it into the reality show “If You Really Knew Me.”
Challenge not only gives today’s young people a new perspective; it reassures them of the importance of their good qualities. The most valuable lesson I personally took from Challenge Day was to remember to reserve judgment about others. You do not know what their family is like, how their night was, or how their morning went. You know nothing about most people except for their outer appearance.
I also learned the importance of being there for others, of extending the hand of friendship to all around us. By simply showing you care, you can save a person’s life. I also encourage people to confide in one another when they feel like the world is on their back. You’d be surprised by how often someone is struggling with the same problems you are. We must learn from one another in order to grow into strong individuals.
Challenge Day gave me courage – the courage to stand up for those who don’t have a voice. As I went through the program, I watched it instill courage into the hearts of all around me. I thoroughly believe that this program could change the world if everyone had the opportunity to go through it.
Many have asked me if Freedom High School actually changed following Challenge Day, and my answer is yes. It wasn’t the drastic change we all hoped for, but it was a change nonetheless. The event gave Freedom students that first step they needed to make a true difference. After Challenge Day, the Freshmen in Training Leadership Program created a club called Freedom for Change – an effort to carry on the change and give students who missed Challenge Day a chance to experience its message.
Challenge Day made its participants better people. Despite the fact that cameras were trained on us the entire time, every emotion and phrase was completely and 100 percent honest. I actually had forgotten that we were even being filmed.
I encourage all who have seen the show or undergone the program to take the lessons learned and share them with others. That is how we can make a change. That is how we impact the world.