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Change Drive
Inspired by a European Global Leadership Summit experience in 2016, Rocky River High School (RRHS) students Lauren Hickey and Payton Szymczak were looking for a way to make a difference in their own school.

Lauren and Payton are members of RRHS’ Bridge to the World student travel program, which aligns with the school district’s Strategic Plan. The program provides educational opportunities to students, placing them in a position to be globally competitive as they transition into higher education and the workforce. The program stretches across curricula and includes a series of trips with individual objectives and academic importance – for example, home-stay experiences, world language immersions and student leadership opportunities.

Through the Bridge to the World Program, Lauren and Payton attended a Global Leadership Summit in Europe over the summer in 2016. Their trip took them to Ireland, London and The Hague, where they explored human rights in a global context and examined the historical and cultural factors that influence international laws.

“On this trip we gained a deeper understanding of past injustices, examined current efforts to protect human rights and reflected on the responsibility we each have to preserve these rights,” Lauren said, adding that they were inspired by a presentation about UNICEF and its work defending the rights of children around the world.

“This summer we will be traveling to South Africa, so we wanted to organize a change drive to benefit UNICEF of South Africa,” Payton said. The change drive, which challenged students and staff to donate their loose change to benefit UNICEF South Africa, raised $2,733.50.

For more information on RRHS’ Bridge to the World program, visit For more information about UNICEF South Africa visit