Rachel’s Challenge approved at Killingly schools, parents continue fight for mental health center

KILLINGLY, Conn. (WFSB) – Parents and students at Killingly High School are continuing their fight for a mental health center.

According to a survey conducted in Killingly schools, about 15 percent of middle and high school students formulated a suicide plan.

Parents and students have quarreled for months to add a mental health center to the high school to combat this mental health crisis.

A majority of the Board of Education blocked the opening of a clinic at the high school and say they are looking to explore alternatives.

“We were discussing alternatives to the school-based health center and the established roster,” says Killingly Superintendent Robert Angeli.

One of the proposed alternatives was a program called Rachel’s Challenge. The program was named after a victim in the Columbine shootings.

It is a workshop where children can learn empathy, self-confidence and resilience against bullying.

Rachel’s challenge was approved at the board of education meeting Wednesday and will be effective at the beginning of the school year.

Parents say the program is just a band-aid for the mental health crisis, and they hope plans to build a mental health center are not shelved.

“Hopefully it will inspire some change in students, but it won’t help address what we’ve all been fighting for months, which is to get our kids who are already struggling with mental health issues the help they need, ” says Kristine Cicchetti, a Killingly parent.

The Department of Education is also seeking answers as to why the mental health center was rejected after the board promised to use more than $3 million for the center.

The board will meet with the Department of Education until the end of August.

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