“All our lives are hectic and we often get caught up in the day to day grind of our work and lives. Any opportunity to be able to give back to our community needs to be taken. Our youth are the future and should have our focus,” states Luke Tibbets, a community member who has volunteered for the last two years for Challenge Day.
Since 2012, Sioux Empire United Way has brought Challenge Day to the Sioux Empire. Challenge Days are powerful, high energy programs in which youth and adult participants are guided through a series of experiential learning processes. Over the course of the day 25 adults, 100 students and two Challenge Day facilitators will spend 6.5 hours together, discovering that we are more alike than different while learning the power of empathy!
During our pilot year, two school districts were funded by Sioux Empire United Way to experience this program. Since then, 16 of the 21 school districts in our four county service area of the Sioux Empire have benefited from Challenge Day, thanks to the funding of Sioux Empire United Way.
Kara Spieler, Tea School District School Counselor, states, “Challenge Day is extremely important to the students as they learn about the struggles of some of their peers as well as the adults participating. They are taught that everyone in the room is worthy and that bullying, for example, is unacceptable.”
“Not only is the program important for the individual adults and students that participate, but this is a learning opportunity for the entire school culture as well,” states Kara. For Tea administrators, the importance comes after the day, “Challenge Day’s biggest outcomes for our schools is being able to better identify students that could benefit from some additional support. There is also a lower level of bullying and stronger peer support for one another. It is heartwarming to see a struggling teen being held up by his peers, ones that were not friends prior to Challenge Day,” mentions Kara. Challenge Day is an important tool for administrators, counselors, teachers and others to understand the daily lives of our teens and learn what they need from all of us.
Luke stated, “This day has made me want to be a better dad, husband, son, brother and all around better person. The students were so courageous and inspiring. It was incredible to see kids that have such different life experiences open up and ultimately lean on each other for support.”
Challenge Day 2017 participating schools are; Alcester, Harrisburg, Garretson, Centerville, West Central, Brandon, Canton, Tea and Lennox. To learn more about Challenge Day or how to get involved for 2018, reach out to the United Way office at 336-2095.