Middle school students are encouraged to 'Be the Change'

Jeff Voss

STURGIS, S.D. (KEVN) -- A middle school in South Dakota hosted a challenge day for students to learn how to "be the change" both in their school and in their community.

The students experienced a six and half hour social and emotional workshop that aimed to teach empathy and compassion. Challenge Day has been around for 30 years and is based out of California. Those working with the group have visited over 2 million students throughout the United States, as well as numerous foreign countries. Through their travels, the message remains the same.

Sevan Poetry, a workshop facilitator, said, "There is this quote that "Hurt people hurt people," so we teach that a lot of times when we see these behaviors we don't believe there is such a thing as a bad kid. That's something we teach. It's just that we have people going through a lot and they don't necessarily have the tools to deal with those emotions."

During Challenge Day, students play games to interact with other students and adults. It helps them feel connected in a short amount of time and those connections can allow people to open up to one another.

Poetry said, "I think a lot of times where we feel lonely, or depressed or we are feeling anxiety it feels like we are alone so getting that knowledge that there are millions of people going through this and it actually is part of the human experience. So we just want to normalize human emotion. When we normalize it, then when we go through it we don't think we are the only ones going through it."

If other school districts are interested in hosting Challenge Day, they can contact them on their website at challengeday.org.