“It addresses some of the issues to help people understand that violence shouldn’t be accepted, people shouldn’t be oppressed and people shouldn’t be scared of each other,” said Buchanan, who chairs and organizes the event for the East Cobb Middle School Foundation.
Buchanan’s foundation raises money to put on the event, conducted for 100 seventh-graders each day between Jan. 28-31, and the Concord, Calif.-based Challenge Day nonprofit organization brings “leaders” to speak to students. While she didn’t know who would be working with students as of press time, Buchanan said this year’s program will be more school related and spend time on the changes to the Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect Law.
This year’s event will be the sixth Challenge Day at East Cobb Middle. Buchanan said it focuses on bullying, diversity and other social issues at the school, which is diverse both ethnically and socioeconomically.
“It helps students see that, even though they have differences, they really are not that different,” she said.
Challenge Day came to east Cobb after a parent saw Oprah Winfrey feature it on a show, Buchanan said. It is now the only school in Cobb County that has the event.
Buchanan said students who now attend Wheeler High School still carry the lessons with them from Challenge Day.
The school has nearly filled up the 30 volunteer places it has for Challenge Day. Buchanan said volunteers come from schools in the Atlanta area and even other states to learn about the program and possibly bringing it to their campuses.
The leaders work with the kids in a number of activities, she said.
According to a “fact sheet” issued by Challenge Day, the day of learning for the kids features “high energy” programs, in which youth and adults go through a series of learning processes. Students speak about what is “really going on with them” and what they need from each other.
The sheet said that most students leave the day feeling empowered and committed to making a positive difference. The organization claims to have impacted the lives of 500,000 people since it was founded in 1987.