Students at Lockerby Composite School aren't about to rest on their laurels.
When it comes to the Young Blood for Life program, Lockerby students are No. 1., but they know schools across Canada are going to step up their game in an effort to best the local high school in this year's campaign.
Young Blood for Life encourages high school students to rally their peers, teachers and family members to give blood in a friendly competition against other local high schools. Canadian Blood Services named Lockerby the Young Blood for Life champion for the 2012-2013 campaign, having topped 436 other schools for donating the most blood in the school year.
Lockerby students, staff, friends and family donated 490 units of blood, but Grade 12 student Matthew Willoughby said he believes Lockerby can do even better this year.
“We're not even the largest school in Sudbury, so it's awesome to be able to top schools here and even in Toronto, where the student population is so much higher than our own school,” he said.
It's Lockerby empathy towards those in need that drives its students to participate in events like the Young Blood for Life program, he said.
“I believe we all care about humanity, that we want to help others, and I like to see that at Lockerby.”
Willoughby also knows there's a lot of work ahead if the school plans to claim the title of champion for a second consecutive year.
“We were 87 units above the school that came in second, which is quite a bit, but I imagine most schools will be stepping it up this year, and so will we,” he said.
“The goal is to shoot for a full 500 units this year, but I think we can go above and beyond that. I want to be going to malls, to grocery stores, just canvass the entire city to seek out potential donations for our cause.”
The challenge receives financial support from FedEx Express Canada. Schools that collect the most donations and recruit the highest number of new donors are awarded cash prizes to be used for school initiatives.
Lockerby received a cheque for $900 from FedEx on Oct. 17. The school was also presented with a banner to serve as a visual reminder of its accomplishment, and to inspire future generations.
“We've been a longtime supporter of Canadian Blood Services,” said Alain Lemay, FedEx operations manager for Northern Ontario. “It's just a natural part of our lives, because I think we all know someone who has needed blood at some point.”
FedEx has just renewed its three-year commitment to the program, Lemay said.
Mark Donnison, vice-president of donor relations for Canadian Blood Services, said while Young Blood for Life is a vital tool in keeping pace with the demand for blood, but perhaps more importantly, it allows Canadian Blood Services to connect with youth across the country and nurture a relationship that has been building over the past four years.
“It affords us an opportunity to help youth learn about leadership in their communities and get involved, and about the importance of blood donations,” Donnison said. “We find that donors who start early in life, even if they drift away at one point, often times they come back when they're in their 30s and 40s.”
Young people between the ages of 17 and 24 make up about nine per cent (33,000) of the donor base across Canada. And, while that's a relatively substantial number, it's an area Canadian Blood Services would like to see grow, Donnison said.
“We recognize these youth represent the future of our donor base, so this is an effort we are constantly putting forward,” he said. “The benefit to students is that they become further educated about the biology of blood and the need for blood in Canada.”
The national goals for Young Blood for Life are to collect 17,693 units of blood and gain 6,222 new donors.