Students learn acceptance as part of "Challenge Day" - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Students learn acceptance as part of "Challenge Day"

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Facebook

GERMANTOWN, TN (WMC-TV) - Germantown Middle School students were pleasantly surprised Tuesday enter the room to their teachers and school staff cheering.

It was all part of the first Challenge Day in West Tennessee.

"I don't know what you've heard about Challenge Day, but we're about to get loud," one teacher said. "It's about to get crazy in here."

According to Germantown Middle School counselor Wendy Willingham, Challenge Day is an internationally recognized program that addresses social challenges facing students today.

"It reduces the incidence of bullying and teasing and just all the negative stuff that goes on in schools," she said.

The program, where students get to know each other before they judge each other, has been featured on both the Oprah Winfrey Show and the MTV Network.

"It's like having fun, meeting new people - people you've never met before," eight grade student Lou Greer said.

The day is filled with games, respect, and breaking down the walls of separation and isolation.  According to Willingham, the six-hour program even gets emotional.

"They do an activity called 'If You Really Knew Me' and each student I given two minutes to say, 'If you really knew me,' and to finish that sentence," she said.

Educators say Challenge Day has been highly effective in changing the climate in other schools, and hope to make those same changes locally.

"They need it," Greer said.

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