Lenape Challenge Day Inspires All Involved

Lenape Challenge Day was an emotional experience that has changed the way all involved view their peers at Lenape High School

Challenge Day Organization

Lenape Challenge Day was an emotional experience that has changed the way all involved view their peers at Lenape High School

Friday, November 4th, a select group of approximately 100 students from Lenape were invited to participate in Challenge Day, a social and emotional education program designed to help increase connection between middle and high school students, with the hope that eventually every student can feel safe, loved, understood, and appreciated. (www.challengeday.org)

Lenape student Chase Campbell (class of 2017), who attended Challenge Day, says, “I took away that there are people that are actually willing to listen to what you’re dealing with because they could be going through the same thing or something worse. [It was] a life changing experience. It was truly amazing to connect with a stage full of people.”

Challenge Day was brought to our school by Mr. Laddey who hoped to spark a shift in the way the students that participated view themselves and each other, create better understanding of the unexpected, hidden battles that people go through on a daily basis, and end the stigma around being different that results in judgement and sadness for everyone involved. By agreeing to come to Challenge Day, the students involved also agreed to keep all the information shared between those involved 100% confidential.

Challenge Day inspired us to
Challenge Day inspired us to “drop the water line” of our personal icebergs, revealing more of our true selves.

It is difficult for those not involved to understand what Challenge Day was really about, but as a student that participated in and was deeply affected by Challenge Day, I can say that what we experienced in that auditorium is extremely difficult to put into words. With the help of our wonderful leaders Sealoyd  Jones III and Romeo Marquez Jr., as well as over a dozen teachers that volunteered their time to lead and participate, not only have I learned some incredible new things, but I have also gained a new insight into the fact that each and every one of us has a very personal  struggle that no one knows about. Most of the time, no one expresses their emotions  because they are afraid of what people will think. At Challenge Day, Sealoyd and Romeo used a balloon metaphor to describe this, and the idea that people fill their balloons with all their unexpressed struggles and frustrations. At Challenge Day, we all got to release our balloons a little by engaging in intimate conversations with one another that centered around the prompt “If You Really Knew Me…” and other activities that inspired us reveal our true selves and show love to others for doing the same.

Mrs. DeSantis, who teaches Biology and Genetics at Lenape, feels that Challenge Day was “a day that really helped all of us – students and teachers alike – appreciate that we’re not alone and that we all have experienced difficult situations.  Challenge Day emphasized how important it is to reach out to others, we’re not as different as we sometimes think!”

If You Really Knew Me... as shown on MTV
If You Really Knew Me… as shown on MTV

I found that most of the people I had formed ideas about, I didn’t really know, and that is a lesson I wish every student at Lenape could have been a part of. The more we let our walls down, the better we all felt. Those of us that attended Challenged Day shared stories and tears, but mostly we now share a new view of the school and world around us. We are not afraid to smile at someone new in the hallway, because you never know if your smile could brighten someone’s day. We do our best to treat everyone we meet with respect no matter what our preconceived notions of them are, because you really don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. By participating in Challenge Day, we were given the opportunity to spend a day in a world without fear of expression, and we now want to promote complete freedom of expression in Lenape High School today.

Sadé Lawful, class of 2018, has a message for those that did not get to experience Challenge Day and those that did:

“Give someone a hug. Don’t judge because even the people that might be closest to you may be going through their own struggles that impact them more than they can express. I’m never alone. I learned that I always have someone to talk to or that there are others that are going through similar experiences, so I can confide in them. People actually do care about what’s happening in my life. I learned that it’s okay to share my feelings and cry. I don’t have to be a zombie and hide my feelings. I learned that we are all strong individuals and walked away knowing that we are a family. It helped me come to terms with my own problems. I now have this urge to check up on people and genuinely want to know how life is incase they need someone to talk to. I’m shook.”

No words or stories will ever truly give justice to the way we felt and the hugs we exchanged on November 4th, but the next best thing is to promote the new, loving culture we explored at Challenge Day. I hope those that participated are up to the challenge. I hope that the members of Lenape High School are ready and open for a change.