Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Jump roping flash mob raises awareness for Kenyan orphanage

A jump roping flash mob turned heads during lunch at the University of Illinois Springfield’s Food Emporium on Tuesday, Dec. 14. It was all in an effort to raise awareness about Jump for Joel, a non-profit organization started by UIS student Shana Stine in 2005.

“We decided to do something a little different and a little unusual to celebrate Joel’s birthday,” said Stine.

Joel, who just turned 11-years-old, is an orphan at the Gathiga Children’s Hope Home in Kenya. The primary focus of Jump for Joel is to raise money for the orphanage of 120 children northwest of Nairobi. The group also finances a feeding program in the Kabiria slum of Nairobi.

“Joel is an orphan, HIV positive, but it doesn’t slow him down. He loves to jump rope and is very joyful, so that’s kind of why we named it Jump for Joel,” said Stine.

Stine was joined by a group of current and former UIS students to celebrate Joel’s birthday. Amelia Cheshire graduated from UIS in May and now serves as Administrative Director for Jump for Joel.

“Going to Kenya and meeting the kids for myself and just falling in love with them. They’ve changed my life as much as I’ve ever hoped to changed there’s and so that’s a huge reason why I continue to do this,” said Cheshire.

Every summer a group of UIS students travels to Kenya to volunteer and meet the orphans. Freshman biology major Amanda Cummins wants to make the trip next summer. Knowing the organization was started at UIS makes her feel like it’s possible to make a difference.

“I think it’s awesome that UIS students started this. I think it’s a great thing to show what we can do as students,” said Cummings.

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