Upper Arlington High School Involvement: Strides 4 South Sudan

 Upper Arlington High School, Strides 4 South Sudan Club: 

The first service-learning program collaborating with the Buckeye Clinic was conducted at Upper Arlington High School in the 2009-10 school year. Bol Aweng and Jok Dau met with 90 students of House D, a blocked program with Global History, Mathematics, and Language Arts classes collaborating together. The students read about the history of Sudan, created model health clinics, wrote persuasive letters to family and businesses to raise money for the clinic. They raised money through a penny war competition among classes, an annual walk-a-thon, dodge ball tournaments, and pumpkin bread sales. The first year they raised almost $15,000, which paid for a solar powered refrigeration system to store vaccines. A “Strides 4 South Sudan” club was established at the school. The students and faculty at Upper Arlington High School, in over seven years, they raised more than $56,000 for the Buckeye Clinic. 

The students and teachers won the 2011 State Farm Youth Leadership Award for Service-learning for the Strides 4 South Sudan Project. They received the award at the National Youth Leadership Conference. 

Comments from Presidents of Strides 4 South Sudan 

I have enjoyed learning about South Sudanese culture and a unique perspective on life through my involvement in Strides 4 South Sudan. I began going to club meetings for the people and stayed because of my love for learning and helping. 

~Allison Mellor, President S4SS, 2015-2016 

Strides 4 South Sudan has given me many things. It has brought light to my passions, it has allowed me to meet people I wouldn’t have had to opportunity of knowing, it has taught me empathy and compassion, and most importantly it has given me Bol Aweng, a man who inspires me every day by his courage, selflessness, and commitment. 

~Gracie Bergdlol, President S4SS 2014-2015 

Strides 4 South Sudan enabled students at Upper Arlington High School to be altruistic, generous, and dedicated leaders in the community. I learned about the victims of the Sudanese Civil War, the high infant mortality rate, and the need for easy access to water while improving my communication, fundraising, and networking skills. I hope to continue helping the Buckeye Clinic in years to come. 

~Grace Solomon, President S4SS 2013-2014 

When we met Jok and Bol in 2009, it took our passion for the cause to the next level. As we were able to meet and listen to Jok and Bol tell their stories of bravery and perseverance, our hearts grew more and more attached to theirs. Our project eventually developed its name, Strides 4 South Sudan, to not only reflect the walk the Lost Boys had taken, but the steps we were currently taking to combat all of the poverty still happening in Piol. 

Our small service-learning project turned into a curriculum wide project, as it became integrated into all of our major subjects. We wrote persuasive brochures in language arts urging people to donate to the cause, drafted geometric scale versions of a health clinic that would eventually be built in Piol, held medical supply drives. While we wanted to raise money, the underlying goal of all of this was to raise awareness in our community of the atrocities that happened on the other side of the world, and that a couple kids could band together and make a difference. During the academic year of 2009-2010, UAHS we raised $14,500. 

But after our freshman year, many of us joined together and realized we didn’t want to just stop being involved with the project. I decided to start Club Sudan, as a way for students to remain involved in the fundraising efforts. The next year we raised $14,900 and changed the club name to Strides 4 South Sudan. 

~Taylor Grow, President S4SS 2011-2012 and 2012-2013