Four FCMHS staff members recently attended Challenge Day at Tanana Middle School. Challenge Day is a curriculum designed to reduce bullying by building compassion. In a series of activities, students learn  about they challenges students have faced and how much they have in common.  Staff who participated were moved and inspired by the stories they heard and look forward to being part of Challenge Day again in the future. Here are some of their reflections:

“Kids are often not encouraged to share their experiences openly for fear of being judged.”

Challenge day was a great reminder that kids experience a lot of hard things and are often not encouraged to share their experiences openly for fear of being judged. Kids experience trauma in their daily life and then go to school where they face increasing social and academic pressure for a full day, then return home to varying levels of caregiver support. Also, that social media has encouraged masking the negatives of life from our friends and support systems and has become the main social connection a lot of these kids have. I think my takeaway was the idea of being a trusted person in kids’ lives is one of the most important roles we can have as adults, and to be honest about our own struggles instead of feeling that we have to pretend to be OK when times are tough. – Michaela, Program Manager, Child & Family Services at FCMHS

“A very effective tool … to demonstrate that people have fewer differences and more similarities”

I thought it was very meaningful and would be a great training for our staff. I felt that it was very effective in the school setting to demonstrate that people have fewer differences and more similarities. I saw that the participates have had many traumatic experiences and that by the end of the exercise there was more compassion and healing going one. Everyone was on an equal field of vulnerability; trust as well as acceptance was brought off the field. – Carl, Adult Clinical Associate, FCMHS

“It was an experience all of our staff should have.”

When it was over, I realized that it was an experience that all of our staff should have.  It was exciting, upbeat, emotional and meaningful…and demonstrated how resilient adolescents have to be in this difficult world that we live in.    It was astonishing how many young people have had not just 3 adverse lifetime experiences, but more like 15 to 20.  – Kandy, Clinical Director, FCMHS

“There was a lot of healing that began that day”

Select Fairbanks schools got to participate in Challenge Day, which is an event that promotes awareness of compassion and anti-bullying among peers.  Staff were invited as volunteers to support the event and serve as group leaders during the mini-events.  None of us knew what to expect so we came with our hearts open.  I think all of us were pleasantly surprised at how intense and meaningful the activities were, and the depth of the emotions in the stories that were shared that day.  I was grateful to participate in this event because I got to connect with students in their environment.  I was blown away by the courage and the resilience demonstrated in hearing their stories.  As a lifelong learner, it was a gift to celebrate life experiences in community with others, especially our youth. I walked away extremely reflective and feel like I got just as much out of this as many of the students did. There was a lot of healing that began that day, and one couldn’t help but cherish the process of students becoming aware of their own voice, and power. – Erica, Child & Family Clinician