Student Involvement

Raising awareness about the Lost Boys and South Sudan, and Raising money for maternal and child health in Piol, South Sudan.

Students have raised over $121,000 for the Buckeye Clinic

From the beginning of the Buckeye Clinic project, school students have played an important part of the Buckeye Clinic effort. Service learning programs in many schools have helped students learn about the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan, the history of the years of war in that country, and the current situation in South Sudan. The students have had an opportunity to learn first hand from Bol Aweng and Jok Dau, survivors of the crisis in Southern Sudan. Inspired by their story students wanted to help the people in Bol and Jok’s former village. High school, middle school, and even elementary school students have participated.

The program always includes a presentation by Bol Aweng, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. Bol is an artist and has many paintings depicting different aspects of life as he fled his country when he was six-years-old. Bol tells his story through a power point presentation he calls his “Journey of Hope”. He also provides information on the current situation in South Sudan and about the activities of the Buckeye Clinic. Students readily connect with him and his story because he was their same age when he fled his country, walked 1,500 miles, and lived in refugee camps for 14 years. They are usually inspired to join him in his quest to improve maternal and child health conditions in his village. Following his presentation they learn more about the Lost Boys and South Sudan, and plan and conduct fundraising activities to raise money for the Buckeye Clinic.

Upper Arlington High School, Strides 4 South Sudan club:

The first service-learning program 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 have raised money through a penny war competition among classes, an annual walk-a-thon, dodge ball tournaments, and pumpkin bread sales.  In the first year, they raised almost $15,000, which paid for a solar powered refrigeration system to store vaccines.   Over 500 newborn babies have been vaccinated at the Buckeye Clinic.  A “Strides 4 South Sudan” club was established at the school.  The students and faculty at Upper Arlington High School, over the last seven years, have raised more than $56,000 for the Buckeye Clinic.

In 2011, Upper Arlington students completed an application for a national Service-learning award sponsored by State Farm Insurance.  The students and teachers won the 2011 State Farm Youth Leadership Award for Service-learning for the Strides for Sudan Project. They received the award at the National Youth Leadership Conference.

Here is a link to the UA page talking about the award.

Comments from Presidents of Strides for South Sudan

I have enjoyed learning about South Sudanese culture and a unique perspective on life through my involvement in Strides for South Sudan. I began going to club meetings for the people and stayed because of my love for learning and helping. I had such a wonderful opportunity to create international change from a classroom thousands of miles away. As a club, we were able to raise over $50,000 for the club that went toward the Buckeye clinic. It’s amazing to know that I was able to take part in a club that decreased the mortality rate among children and mothers who would not have been able to survive if we hadn’t become involved. I hope that future students will be able to get involved and have their own eye-opening experiences through their participation in the club.

~Allison Mellor, President S4SS, 2015-2016


Strides for 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 and Steve Walker. People who inspire me everyday by their courage, selflessness and commitment. Bol Aweng is an absolutely amazing man, father, husband, artist and human being. Strides for South Sudan has given me all of this and so much more.

~Gracie Bergdlol, President S4SS 2014-2015


Strides for 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. Thanks to Jok, Bol, the teachers at UAHS, Steve Walker, and others, I became more than simply an advocate for the people of Piol, South Sudan. I hope to continue helping the Buckeye Clinic in years to come.

~Grace Solomon, President S4SS 2013-2014


In the beginning of 2009, Mark Boesch, UAHS House D’s global history teacher, decided to show us the documentary, “God Grew Tired of Us.” This film had an immediately and lasting impression on the freshman students of House D. Boesch saw a unique opportunity in front of him. With students so clearly moved by the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan, he connected us with Steve Walker, a man who had connections to two actual Lost Boys, both of which were given the opportunity to study at the Ohio State University. When we met Jok and Bol, 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. We quickly discovered that Jok and Bol and their families in Piol, Sudan, needed our help. They lacked proper medical supplies, shelter, electricity- basic things that we had never known a life without. We were a group of about 80 fifteen year olds, and while we our initial ideas began with bake-sales and dodgeball tournaments, we knew we could make a difference. Our project eventually developed its name, Strides for 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.

After collaboration with the other House D teachers, Boesch decided to take things to the next level. 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, and planned a “Night with Jok and Bol” at the Cambridge Tea House in Upper Arlington where parents and families were invited to join students in listening to a presentation given by Jok and Bol. 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.

Our funding efforts began to generate loftier goals, with our chill-cook-off and major spring event, the Walk-a-Thon, a community walk inspired by the Lost Boys thousand mile trek from Kenya to Ethiopia. During the academic year of 2009-2010, UAHS freshman House D was able to raise $14,500. A number we were so proud of as we knew the impact it would have on Jok and Bol’s family and their village of Piol.

But after our freshman year, many of us joined together and realized we didn’t want to just stop being involved with the project. Our cause was not solved, and our jobs were not finished. Jok and Bol had touched all of our lives, and we did not want to stop touching theirs. In the fall of 2010, with the help of Boesch, I decided to start Club Sudan, as a way for students from House D to continue making a difference after freshman year and remain involved in the fundraising efforts. The next year we raised $14,900. As new students came into UAHS, the project grew each year. And Strides for Sudan, soon became Strides for South Sudan, as history literally changed before our eyes. We began seeing the actual differences we were making in Piol. The first light bulb, our medical supplies in use, even our OSU Buckeye and Golden Bear spirit was reflected in Piol.

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

Upper Arlington Students win National Service Learning Award

UA applied for and won the 2011 State Farm Youth Leadership for Service-Learning Award.  Below, find the application, written by Maddie English, as well as the award letter and other media pertaining to the award:

Award Application

Upper Arlington Photos:

Bexley Middle School:

Bexley Middle School has conducted a service-learning program for five years, which supports the Buckeye Clinic. In their first year, they raised almost $5,000 that paid for the installation of a water catchment system for two buildings with two 5,000-gallon tanks. This provides much needed fresh water for Piol village residents. Bexley Middle School students have been very creative in their fundraising activities that included, a walk-a-thon and carnival designed and run entirely by students. Because Bol was their age when he began his 1,500-mile journey, first graders lead the first lap of the walk-a-thon. One parent even sponsored a Main Street billboard announcing the campaign. Bexley students have raised over $28,000 for the Buckeye Clinic.

Hastings Middle School:

Hastings Middle School in Upper Arlington has studied South Sudan, researched refugee camps throughout the world, and interviewed refugees living in Columbus. Bol Aweng has walked with students in their walk-a thons. Students have raised almost $7,000 in two years.

Twenty-eight schools have raised money for the Buckeye clinic:

# of SchoolsMoney Raised
3Over $6,000 ($6,873, $28,476, and $56,476)
10Between $1,000 and $3,000
5Between $500 and $999
7Between $100 and $499
3Under $100

Below is a list of schools that have conducted service-learning programs or raised money for the Buckeye Clinic.

  • Bexley Middle School
  • Big Walnut Intermediate School
  • Columbus Academy
  • Columbus City Schools:
    • Buckeye Middle School
    • Fifth Ave International School
    • Columbus Global Academy
    • Hubbard Mastery School
    • Columbus Arts and College Prep School
  • Henry Clay High School, Lexington, KY
  • Hilliard City Schools:
    • Ridgewood Elementary School
    • Darby Creek Elementary School
    • Darby High School
    • Bradley High School
  • Park Street Intermediate School, Grove City
  • River Valley Middle School, Caledonia, Ohio
  • Marburn Academy
  • Newark Catholic High School
  • Northmont Middle School, Clayton, Ohio
  • Upper Arlington Schools:
    • Upper Arlington High School, and Strides 4 South Sudan Club
    • Hastings Middle School
    • Jones Middle School
  • Wellington Middle School
  • Wellington Upper School
  • Westerville City Schools:
    • Walnut Springs Middle School
    • Central High School
    • Emerson Elementary
    • Worthington Linworth Alternative

2016 Food Distribution:

By the end of the 2015-16 school year almost 100,000 pounds of food was distributed to the people of Piol South Sudan, thanks to the efforts of students in the Columbus, Ohio area. A banner was printed with the names and logos of each school that raised money in 2016. A photo with the banner and students from each school was taken and sent along with the sign to South Sudan. The banner was blessed at Scioto Ridge United Methodist Church, the original sponsor of the Buckeye Clinic, before it was shipped to South Sudan.

The Buckeye Clinic Education Committee is composed of retired teachers with experience in service learning programs and the Buckeye Clinic. They serve as resources to assist teachers who are interested in developing programs in their schools. Valuable resource materials are also available to assist teachers (reading lists, instructional materials used in other schools, and fundraising ideas).

For more information on Service Learning and the Buckeye Clinic please contact