Rachel's Challenge teaches respect and inclusion


by LaSalle Blanks, 13News


Posted on November 5, 2012 at 6:40 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 14 at 8:09 AM

VIRGINIA BEACH-- Corwin Cutler is the star quarterback at Ocean Lakes High School and is on his way to UVa next fall.  A few months ago, Cutler was hit by the harsh realities of life when his 17-year-old brother, who lived in Florida, committed suicide.

"A lot of people didn't understand my brother and he couldn't take it anymore," Cutler said. "He just took the wrong way out."

On the football field, Cutler has a team surrounding him and protecting him from getting knocked to the ground. Now he's learning about a program off the field that's a real pick-me-up too - Rachel's Challenge.

At the Virginia Beach Ropes Challenge Course near Cleveland Street, he and some classmates were challenged to rely on each other and to learn to trust each other, like Cutler has done with his football team.

The purpose of Rachel's Challenge is for students to learn values like kindness, respect, generosity, caring, compassion, support and inclusion, which Cutler wishes his brother was exposed to in Florida.

"Just knowing that if people are going through something, just be there to talk to them," Cutler said. "Because they may not have anyone to talk to."

Ocean Lakes student August Duell felt the same way before her day with Rachel's Challenge on the Ropes Challenge course.

"I don't even know some of these people and I feel accepted in the group." Duell said.

Her Rachel's Challenge teammate agrees.

"This is a teamwork building exercise," said Ocean Lakes student Alexandra Metcalf. "We learn to work together and make each other feel stronger and better ourselves."

"It's so important for these kids today.  They have so much going on in their lives and sometimes we don't even know what they're dealing with," said Samantha Lambert, Ocean Lakes High School's Rachel's Challenge coordinator. "Rachel's Challenge allows an opportunity for kids to reach out and help one another."

"It doesn't matter if you're on the football team, or in the band, or not in a club at all," Duell said. "We want everyone to feel at our school we're part of a team, one team together."

That's a game plan Cutler hopes to tackle in the hallways throughout the year.  He wants  to be there for  students who may feel isolated and alone.