Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Wharton global club hosts festival to ease suffering in Uganda


The Roots for Peace Festival at Wharton High School will have cotton candy, live entertainment and an inflatable obstacle course.

But the "peace tree booth" at the center of tonight's event will highlight its serious mission.

There, visitors will learn more about the youth of northern Uganda, many of whom were orphaned by a decades-long civil war. Thousands were kidnapped by rebel armies and forced to join the fight.

Students will ask festivalgoers to write down their thoughts about the war and what the United States can do to support Uganda's young people. Their words will be tied to a makeshift tree made from pipes that students created to look like branches. The writings eventually will be shared with congressional leaders in an attempt to spur them to action.

The festival is the brainchild of Jamila Blake, a Wharton 11th-grader pursuing her Girl Scout Gold Award, the organization's highest achievement.

Two years ago, she saw a documentary produced by the nonprofit organization Invisible Children that highlighted the conflict in Uganda. The film's subjects hit close to home.

"I didn't think of children my age having to fight in a war like that," Blake, 16, said.

She decided to make her Gold Award service project raising awareness about these atrocities.

As Blake discussed her ideas with social studies teacher Elizabeth Glover, they came up with a way to get other students involved. They created a student club called Global Outreach.

For more than a year, members have worked on the Roots for Peace Festival, soliciting sponsorships and donations from businesses and marketing the community event. Blake, the club president, has overseen every detail.

The positive response from so many people has left her "a little bit awestruck," she said. "I wasn't sure that many people would be willing to give money to a cause they don't know much about."

After the festival, Blake will attempt to set up meetings with U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor and Gus Bilirakis. She will ask them to support the implementation of the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, which calls for humanitarian aid, reconstruction projects and elimination of the resistance forces that fueled the war.

Blake's leadership, which has inspired other students to learn more about the issues and get involved, impressed Glover. While others just talk, she said, this teen actually put in the work and made it happen.

Tia Mitchell can be reached at or (813) 226-3405.

>>fast facts

Roots for Peace Festival

The event to raise awareness of youth affected by the long civil war in northern Uganda takes place from 5 to 9 tonight on the track at Wharton High School, 20150 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. The festival features live entertainment, games and food sales. Admission is free.

Wharton global club hosts festival to ease suffering in Uganda 02/17/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 17, 2011 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Investigator: Clearwater driver part of larger human-smuggling scheme


    SAN ANTONIO — Investigators believe a truck driver accused in the deaths of 10 people found inside a packed, sweltering tractor-trailer is part of a larger organization involved in human smuggling that authorities are trying to identify and dismantle, a U.S. immigration official said.

    James Mathew Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, left, arrives at the federal courthouse for a hearing, Monday, July 24, 2017, in San Antonio. Bradley was arrested in connection with the deaths of multiple people packed into a broiling tractor-trailer. [Associated Press]
  2. Hernando approves new trash-collection contract; customers get price increase

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — A unanimous County Commission on Tuesday approved a seven-year extension to the garbage-collection contract with Republic Services, an agreement that will bring higher prices, county-provided garbage cans and automated trucks to lift and mechanically dump cans.

Republic Services will to switch to automated trucks, similar to this vehicle used by Progressive Waste Solutions in Hillsborough County, under its contract extension with Hernando County.
  3. Old Coachman Road in Clearwater closed due to depression in road

    Public Safety

    CLEARWATER — Police shut down Old Coachman Road south of NE Coachman Road in both directions Wednesday morning because of a depression in the roadway.

    Police shut down Old Coachman Road south of NE Coachman Road in both directions in Clearwater on July 26, 2017, because of a depression in the roadway. [Clearwater Fire Rescue]
  4. Wasserman Schultz staffer arrested, then fired


    U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, has fired an IT worker arrested on bank fraud.

    U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston.
  5. Clearwater-based USAmeriBanc acquired by New Jersey bank in $816 million deal


    CLEARWATER — USAmeriBancorp, Inc., based in Clearwater, is being acquired by New Jersey's Valley National Bancorp in an $816 million deal, it was announced today.

    Joe Chillura, CEO of USAmeribank, shown inside a branch in Ybor City in this file photo.