Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - September 10, 2010

Hitting the road for a good cause

Foothill High grad working to help Uganda's 'Invisible Children'

by Brittany Hersh

While many Foothill High School graduates prepared to head off to college or join the workforce, Jaymie Shearer, 18, had an atypical plan for the next five months -- to be a "roadie."

She will be traveling in a van along the East Coast to schools and colleges with the nonprofit organization Invisible Children to spread awareness about child soldiers and the war in Uganda.

"I'm looking forward to just learning," Shearer said. "It's going to be so much work but also so much fun."

Roadies spend two to three days in an area staying with host families, driving to different schools to screen the Invisible Children movie, "Go." They also sell merchandise to benefit the group's Schools for Schools program, which helps to rebuild secondary schools in Northern Uganda and to educate children.

"My goal is to get more schools into the program," Shearer explained.

She anticipated getting campuses to organize their own fundraising and awareness efforts for the cause.

"It shows students they don't just have to donate to help," she said. "They can get involved by starting a club on campus and spreading the word."

Shearer will spend a month training in San Diego before she and her five teammates, including two Ugandans, hit the road. Even though this is her first time living with other people she is not worried.

"I'm stoked to live with roommates," she said. "I've already hosted roadies so I'm not nervous."

The people in her group had already become Facebook friends and built a sense of community and excitement, she added.

Each team member had to raise at least $1,500 for necessities on the road, such as food and toiletries. Shearer raised $2,000 about $300 of it at a garage sale she sponsored. The rest of the money came from friends and family.

"People have been so supportive and understanding of why I need the money," she said.

Shearer is not new to Invisible Children or its Schools for Schools program. After hearing the organization's name around the quad during her freshman year at Foothill High, she decided to do an online search. She found the film "Invisible Children: Rough Cut" and watched it.

"I laughed when they laughed and cried when Jacob cried," Shearer said.

The movie spurred her to book a screening with Schools for Schools and to start a club at Foothill High School.

"Sophomore year I started the club. I learned a lot from it but it was tough," Shearer added. "I had high expectations."

Besides starting the Schools for Schools club and hosting screenings at Valley Community Church, she also participated and helped organize The Rescue in San Francisco during spring 2009. This worldwide event spanned 10 countries and 100 cities.

In San Francisco, hundreds of individuals camped out to bring attention to the longest running war in Africa and waited to be rescued by an influential person such as a celebrity, politician or musician. The participants had sent out emails and called offices in advance asking people to rescue them. Former Mayor Willie Brown rescued Shearer's group after two days and 31 minutes.

"We didn't know when someone was going to come," Shearer said, "My favorite part was waking up to people from Southern California who came to bring up our spirits and support us."

Shearer has also run the Invisible Children merchandise booth at the Warped Tour's Mountain View stop for the last two years.

After being involved in the movement for four years, becoming a roadie was a logical step.

"I've wanted to do this for so long," Shearer stated. "I just want to be a part of the movement to end the war in Uganda, to be a part of something that is bigger than me."

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