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Movie moves Nature Coast students to action

Published February 8, 2007


Some 500 Nature Coast Technical High School students sat motionless in the Black Box Theater there, watching a documentary film called Invisible Children.

They were rapt. No one applied lip gloss. No one attempted a surreptitious cell phone call.

You could hear an occasional sniffle or sob.

The students seemed impressed and moved by a film detailing the plight of children trapped in the purgatory of an African civil war for 10 years.

Said Christine Crane, 17: "I started sobbing. I mean, I was hysterical. I had no idea anything like this could happen to kids. When I went to my next class my friends were carrying on about makeup and $100 jeans, I freaked out at them."

The Ugandan children depicted in the movie have to keep moving from place to place to avoid being kidnapped and killed. They have no clothes. They have little food and often sleep, piled on top of each other, on concrete floors 2 inches deep in stagnant water.

"We worry about having to wear a pair of jeans twice. Those kids don't even have pants," Crane said.

Many Nature Coast students who viewed the film had seen it before and were still blindsided by the depth of misery. But they weren't immobilized. On the contrary, some Hernando County kids were moved to action.

The screening kicked off a fundraising effort through the end of the school year. Nature Coast will work with other high schools to partner with a Ugandan school, tracking the effect their fundraising has on specific African children.

School Board members Dianne Bonfield and Jim Malcolm attended the screening and were excited by the degree of commitment local kids want to make.

"It's a great thing to see kids take this on project and be willing to work at something so global. I'm pleased to see young people get involved," said Malcolm.

County Commissioner Chris Kingsley pointed out that the ambassadors from the Invisible Children organization, all younger than 25, didn't hedge when Nature Coast students asked them how they could be sure the money was going to the right place.

Said Kingsley: "The speaker said they have accountants and overseers on both sides of the world. Here and in Uganda. The program could have a profound impact."

Principal Tizzy Schoelles vowed to let students plan and execute their ideas.

For her part, Christina has already written a poem that says, in part:

We need to stand up and use our voice,

For we can help, we have a choice.

We need to help the missing millions,

We need to help the Invisible Children.

Student Joshua Looman, 17, wants his band, Perfect Tragedy, to perform a benefit concert.

Students promised to phone, text message or instant message three more people each Tuesday to spread the word.

Kristin Gaus, who spearheaded local involvement, will continue to sell doughnuts on Fridays - putting the money aside for Ugandan kids.

[Last modified February 8, 2007, 06:39:51]

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