VIRGINIA BEACH -- When tragedy struck at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the Lions at Larkspur Middle School in Virginia Beach let out a roar of love for those affected.
Larkspur is new to the Rachel's Challenge program and they've hit the ground running. The students are taking on big projects including a video for Sandy Hook Elementary and a project for Relay For Life.
Students plastered their school with kindness trees and chains, messages of compassion and inspiration, and pictures of students who have gone above and beyond to improve their school environment.
An essential goal of Rachel's Challenge is to change attitudes and negativity by engaging in acts of kindness.
"We can make a difference by being kind to other people and telling them to stop bullying," said Larkspur Middle School student Brittany Rupert.
Rachel's Challenge encourages students to embrace respect, compassion, the differences in others and to be better people. The hope is that positive messages taught from student to student will decrease negative attitudes that can often lead to violence and bullying.
Gabrielle Aldea says before Rachel's Challenge she experienced bullying because she has a facial deformity.
"I didn't understand why they would do that to me," Aldea said.
Now, with the help of her Rachel's Challenge classmates, who are striving for the best in people, she feels better and flashes a beautiful smile.
"They empowered me and said I can stand up to this," she said. "I feel a lot better."