We Really Can ‘Be the Change’ for Youth

Not too long ago, I had the honor of participating in a Challenge Day—a full day with hundreds of middle school students exploring ways to be fully seen, respected and understood.

The Challenge Day Be the Change Movement was founded by Rich and Yvonne Dutra-St. John, who have spent their careers working with young people. They have created an experience for students that is truly a gift and that has the potential to be life-changing.

In their work to help schools and communities build supportive and inclusive environments, Rich and Yvonne are guided by this reminder: “If we settle for tolerance, we have failed. Our goal is love.”

Students gathered in an auditorium for Challenge Day

Social-emotional skills are as critical for our next generation as the skills taught in STEM classes. Ensuring everyone can be their authentic selves and be accepted by others is central to meeting the challenges of our future.

Experiences like the Challenge Day I was fortunate to take part in will indeed “change the world,” words Oprah used to describe what this important program can do if we all get on board with its message.

There’s a video on the Challenge Day website that explains more about the program and its mission. It isn’t difficult to see the power and impact the experience has on students. Everyone should see it. You can also learn more about Challenge Day activities on their Facebook page and help share the Be the Change message among your social network.

And in the spirit of the movement, all of us—teachers, parents and youth providers and advocates of all kinds—should strive to be a catalyst for supporting the young people in our  worlds to be fully seen, respected, and understood. It’s what the future needs.


About the Author:

Lorraine is co-founder of the Pegasus Springs organizations and President of the Pegasus Springs Foundation. She has provided leadership and mentoring to teams around the world, and she is a recipient of STEM Connector’s “Top 100 Corporate Women in STEM.” As a global executive in the aerospace and security industry, she has been a role model for women in STEM and a champion of diversity and inclusion.