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Rachel Johnson, a senior at Spartanburg Day School, can often be found at Spartanburg Youth Theatre, offering help behind the scenes and in the community. But she recently traveled to Tanzania to participate on the front line of a different kind of work.

“The Day School has a community service group and we are partners with Global Bike,” Johnson said. 

Each year, the school holds a 5K fundraiser for the organization. Rachel has been a part of that event, and she, along with her friend, Molly Jones, held a fundraiser that featured live music. The event was designed to raise money but also awareness about the work of Global Bike, a nonprofit organization that supports women-owned bike rental and repair shops in Tanzania. 

“They’ve established these bike shops so not only do women get work, but they get these bikes so they don’t have to walk as much,” Rachel said. “When we went, we got to visit the bike shops. The women would talk to us and show their shop. They are so proud, as they should be.”

Back home in Spartanburg, Rachel’s involvement with SYT has led her to plan for a theater major in college.

“I’ve been at the Youth Theatre since I was very little,” she said. “I started going regularly in middle school. Currently, I go just about every day. We do a lot of things that are not just main stage plays.”

Rachel is president of SYT’s Junior Advisory Board.

“We help organize auditions and do set builds,” she said. “I also help teach a class during the week. I think I would really like to do something that works with community service but also teaching in some realm. That’s why I like the Youth Theatre. It’s making a change in kids’ lives, but it’s not necessarily conventional.”

As part of her work with the Junior Advisory Board, Rachel has also been a part of outreach projects for SYT, including bringing “Squeeze the Day,” a large-scale lemonade stand, live music and improv to the plaza of Chapman Cultural Center. The event benefitted Boys and Girls Clubs of the Upstate.

“With the Youth Theatre, we are doing an extra outreach where we are going to bring the Youth Theatre out in the community,” she said.

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