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About Sickkids
About SickKids

November 21, 2012

Outreach initiative empowers teens to spread the word about organ donation

“If everyone decided to register at beadonor.ca, it would not just make my day, but would literally make my life,” says Kayla Baker, a 14-year-old cancer survivor, who has been waiting for a double lung transplant for 20 months.

On Monday, Nov. 19, Kayla along with her nurse Rebecca Casas, joined members of the High School Outreach Initiative, at a local school to share her courageous journey and to educate youth about what organ donation can mean for children and teens experiencing organ failure.

The High School Outreach Initiative is an awareness program developed by a group of health care professionals from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), University Health Network (UHN), St. Michael’s Hospital and Trillium Gift of Life Network to deliver interactive presentations at Toronto high schools. Their goal is to inspire youth to spread the message about the impact of organ donation.

“I hope that if we give people the information and let them know about the impact of organ donation when they are young, they will be inspired to not only register, but tell others about it too, ” says Kayla.

Over 100 health-care professionals, including 34 SickKids staff members, volunteer their time to deliver the outreach presentations at high school assemblies and interactive classroom presentations.  The sessions are led by a multidisciplinary team of surgeons, physicians, nurses, transplant coordinators, social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and a Trillium Gift of Life Network representative.

“By targeting youth we get an audience that is engaged and ready to participate in a cause. Their access and understanding of social media helps spread the level of advocacy beyond what we alone can accomplish,” says Rebecca Casas, Lung Transplant Nurse Coordinator at SickKids. “Hearing from someone they can relate to, like Kayla, and learning about her story really hits home as to what it’s like to wait for a transplant and how important organ donation is.”

Currently the group is doing outreach within the Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic District School Board. Last year, in their inaugural year, they reached more than six thousand students and this year they hope to increase that number by roughly 30 per cent. They also hope to begin outreach at private schools in the area.

To book a high school presentation, please contact:  

Meredith Sjogren, Trillium Gift of Life Network
Telephone: 416-619-2299
email: MSjogren@GiftofLife.on.ca

To learn more about organ and tissue donation, or to register as a donor, visit www.beadonor.ca.