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Aspen High School club sends students to Uganda

Dec 18, 2015

A popular club at Aspen High School sends kids to Africa each year to help with service projects. It’s in conjunction with the nonprofit Action in Africa, which was started by an Aspen High School grad. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen has more.

High school junior Kaya Storm points to a photo of a concrete structure painted white and blue. Small kids are lined up at the doors.

"We went there one day and just walked around the classrooms, said hi to all the kids and served them porridge for lunch," Storm says.

Storm was one of about a dozen Aspen high schoolers who visited Uganda last summer. The intensive service trip is part of a club called Action in Africa. Teacher Sarah Benson is the group’s advisor.

"They go and they get outside of the bubble of Aspen that we live in and see what other places are like, but they’re also inspired."

The school club started ten years ago when then high school student Sarah Nininger saw a documentary about child soldiers in Uganda.

"Growing up in the wonderful Aspen community, we couldn’t really wrap our heads around that. The organization that put out the film didn’t have a call to action yet, so our initial reaction was to do fundraising for them."

She eventually founded the charity Action in Africa. The Aspen club is named after it. The nonprofit runs a community facility and a scholarship program. Their goal is to help 400 children every year.

Various club chapters at schools around the country help the organization. Nininger says the Aspen club is particularly good at sending school supplies and volunteers. The latest group also helped with HIV testing and built a community garden.

"Over the years we’ve probably had close to 150 kids from the Aspen community come to Uganda. So the high school’s impact in Uganda has been monumental," Nininger says.

Back at the high school, juniors Kaya Storm and Mikella Tyler pull up another photo. It’s a school kitchen painted lime green. This was one of their main service projects in Uganda.

"We cracked open the paint can and thought, ‘This is what we’re painting the kitchen?!’ And then we just had smaller containers of different colors that we painted all of our hands with and the little kids hands with, and we did handprints on the wall.”

The experience impacted Tyler. She wants to start a club at the college she attends.

"I really love volunteering and providing a service for developing countries and for the people who live in those places. So I definitely see myself invested in this organization for a lot longer."

The club at Aspen High School has 55 members.