Junior Kyleigh Mecchella has experienced sexual assault. She felt weak. It was her weight training class with P.E. teacher Christine Henebry that helped her find strength again.
Henebry helped Mecchella find her inner strength, and a reason to push past her demons. For years, she has helped each of her weight training students to find their “Why,” a reason for coming to school each day.
“I had to deal with sexual assault and I thought I was weak,”she said. “I didn’t have a Why before, I didn’t know what it was. When I figured it out, it really made me a different person and made me an inspiration to other people.”
Henebry has been spreading her “What’s Your Why” message for years, starting with her weight training classes. She took that message to the Branham community last year, leading three rallies, “What’s Your Why” t-shirts, and advisory lessons.
There were some hiccups, as many students who were unsure of their “why” pushes back, and teachers were observed did not sticking to their “Why” advisories. With that in mind, Henebry wants to bring “What’s Your Why” back with the help and support of students and teachers.
She wants to tell students that this campaign isn’t just for athletes. Henebry said that everyone goes to school, but until they can find a reason that motivates them, they will be just an empty body. Last year, she had teachers discuss their reasons for working at Branham during several professional development days. She had hoped that they could spread the message to students.
“Students can get perspective, regardless of what their interests are, by having a greater purpose for why they do what they do,” said Henebry. “I just wish students had more time to talk about it.”
In her weight training classes, she sees many students who don’t participate in sports, inside or outside of school, where the “What’s Your Why” program has benefited them.
Mecchella describes how finding her Why was similar to finding her “inner strength”. On the other hand, “What’s Your Why” has a similar, if not the same effect on those who just discovered it through a sport. While working with the women’s volleyball teams, Henebry was able to spread her campaign outside of her class rosters.
Senior Maddie Vu had never taken Henebry’s weight training class but had still felt the impact of her Why due to her participation in the women’s volleyball teams. Vu explains how one person’s Why could be completely different from someone else’s, but still have the same impact. She then said, “ don’t force yourself to have one. It doesn’t have to be emotional. It doesn’t have to be sad or anything like that. But it has to mean something to you.”
Someone who has seen the program from both sides is junior Kendall Fowler. Kendall has participated in Branham’s softball and basketball programs as well as Henebry’s weight training class. Over her years at Branham, she has grown more confident and open due to the “What’s Your Why” program, to the point of sharing her Why with her peers at last year’s “What’s Your Why” rally.
“Its allowed me to realize that even when I am down and don’t feel like I can do anything anymore, that I can, there’s always more in you left,” Fowler said, “It also has taught me that my story and my past has always, or will always be a part of me, but that I can push past the mistakes I have made, and come to a realization that my present or my future is bigger than my past.”