Area teens accept the ‘Challenge’ to become fully alive

Bernadette Marse Tregre
February 3, 2009
Remigius Coogen
February 5, 2009
Bernadette Marse Tregre
February 3, 2009
Remigius Coogen
February 5, 2009

I took part in two “Challenge Days” last week at H.L. Bourgeois High School in Gray. About 100 students and 35 adults participated each day.

Challenge Day’s vision is that every child lives in a world where they feel safe, loved and celebrated. Its mission is to provide young people and the community with experiential workshops and activities that give teens the opportunity to look at themselves and their environment honestly and see how they can become a more loving and connected person.

Believers could call Challenge Day a practical course in basic Christian values.

Jesus gave us the golden rule: “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.” (Matthew 7:12) He also told us, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

Our world would be a better place if everyone followed Christ’s guidelines.

We can only love our neighbor if we truly love ourselves. If we buy into negative messages ¬- repeatedly being told we’re no good; that we won’t amount to anything in life – we will have difficulty reaching out to others.

The knee-jerk reaction is to put others down as we were put down. In school, this often leads to bullying, teasing or oppressing others because they are of a different race, economic status, gender, religious or sexual orientation.

Negative feelings about one’s self can also lead to disruptive, destructive behavior such as substance abuse, promiscuity and violence toward oneself and others.

Void of any religious overtones, Challenge Day attempts to address the isolation and loneliness that many teenagers feel in hopes of leading them to a true, deep love of self. Once they have a more positive self-image and self-acceptance, teens can celebrate who they are and stop the negative cycles affecting their lives and those around them.

People who feel isolated from others often build walls around themselves. It brings to mind poet Robert Frost’s advice, “Do not build a wall until you know what you are walling in and what you are walling out.”

Challenge Day seeks to help teens tear down their walls and open themselves to others. Through sharing, participants come to realize that others – adults and teens – are facing many of the same issues.

Another lesson of the day-long program is that teens do not have to be victims of their past. No matter what their situation in life, teens are encouraged to adopt a three-step formula for creating positive change:

1. Notice what’s happening.

2. Choose to create a vision for what life could look like.

3. Act. Have the courage and commitment it takes to make the needed changes.

At the end of Challenge Day, the hope is that all those who took part will never again claim they were unaware of the hurt caused by negative comments or judgments, thoughtless jokes, rumors, oppressive behavior or violence.

Instead, the teens will be able to celebrate others’ diversity. Those who shared in the experience can begin to tear down the walls they’ve built around themselves and express their true selves instead of trying to fit in.

Challenge Day provides the tools and alternatives for healthy self-expression and simultaneously challenges participants to let go of self-limiting thoughts, beliefs and emotions. Basically, teens were challenged to live a life 100 percent fully alive and at the service to others.

I recommend Challenge Day for all area high schools – public, private and religious. For more information about the program, contact J.B. Daigle at (985) 209-1602 or