Giving the gift of life: Youth Education on Organ Donation

When you’re back is against the wall and your situation looks dire, all anyone wants is a chance. At least one chance to change their situation, an opportunity to fight for what they need.

There are many challenging life situations that spring to mind – take for example people in need of a matching donor who just want a chance to survive, to be with loved ones, and live their life like anyone else. They want to live free of medical tests, hospital visits and the limitations on what they can do and where they can do it. It’s well documented that if you’re in need of a bone marrow or organ donor and you are Black, Asian or Mixed race your chances of finding a donor are considerably lower than for people of White ethnicity. It’s bad enough to have a life threatening disease or condition, but having race or ethnicity further diminish your chances of finding a lifesaving donor, the challenge becomes tantamount to finding the proverbial ‘needle-in-a-haystack’! It’s enough to make you want to throw your head back and scream.

Similarly, young people in today’s social and economic climate need a chance too. They need someone to take a chance on them and for them. The media too readily portray young people as knife carrying hooligans. Whilst we cannot afford to ignore youth gun and knife crime, they collectively face a future that is bleak and full of unpleasant uncertainties with rising unemployment and education priced out of their reach. How can they attain the goals that society sets for them? How can they attain the goals they set for themselves?

Out of the greatest challenges come some of the greatest opportunities to shine. Sometimes it is only those who have or have had their backs against the wall, who truly understand what it is to be the underdog; sometimes they are the only ones who have the tenacity needed to fight for that ‘ONE CHANCE’ to get back on track; to get back to life; to get back to the reality of the fast growing health inequalities around donor matching.

It is in the face of adverse situations and difficult times that the ACLT (African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust) introduces the Giving the Gift of Life Ambassador program. We want to leave a lasting legacy that inspires and facilitates the realisation of young dreams and fosters courage, hope and new thinking. It’s a chance for young people to help themselves skill up as ‘young messengers’ that create the debates around organ donation amongst their peers, family and wider youth communities and provide their audiences with a chance to consider registering as a potential donor.

Through Giving the Gift of Life or ‘GGOL’ { pronounced ‘GOAL’}, the very young people who need a chance, who are aged 16-25, and not in employment, education or training will be trained to become spokespersons on organ donation on behalf of the ACLT. Young people receive much guidance and training in self-confidence, public speaking and teamwork, alongside mentoring to enhance their own natural talents and abilities to become Ambassadors of the ‘Giving the Gift of Life’ message. They are given the opportunity to produce their own presentations on organ donation that they will present to their peers at varied events in the media style of their choice. We are offering this chance to young people from the inner city London Boroughs of Hackney, Southwark and Lambeth.

Our young Giving the Gift of Life Ambassador volunteers will gain the personal and transferable skills that employers look for. Those wishing to set up their own business get a chance to really show what they are made of. Equally important, for those who thought they were ‘waiting in vain’ on the organ donor list, the more potential donors added to the register provides them with more chances of fighting their life-threatening illness.

A chance doesn’t guarantee a solution but it does provide the forward movement needed to get one ‘OFF’ that proverbial ‘WALL’. Sometimes that bit of movement, that chance is able to provide something amazing that they didn’t even realise they had misplaced along the way…HOPE.

In an upcoming post, the ACLT will share more about how they have developed this exciting and innovative initiatve. For more details on the ACLT’s Giving the Gift of Life programme visit www.aclt.org

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5 Responses to “Giving the gift of life: Youth Education on Organ Donation”
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    1. […] that we have honored first responders and servicemen (and women) as heroes at the same time we have valorized donation as an act of heroism, directly links to this. Right up to present day, it also resonates with military mobilization […]

    2. […] our last article we introduced the ACLT’s (African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust) UK ‘Giving the Gift of Life’ Amba… and discussed how the programme has the ability to bring hope to both potential recipients and […]

    3. […] is fascinating research on Dutch children as donors. Our contributors at ACLT also reported on their exciting urban youth outreach initiative.  AADP‘s outreach coordinators focus their activities on appealing to the collegiate set and […]

    4. […] like AADP. In a similar fashion, our contributors across the pond, the ACLT, have devised a brilliant job skills training program for young transplant […]

    5. […] Giving the Gift of Life (GGOL) is a unique programme cultivating organ, blood and bone marrow donor youth ambassadors through job skills training. It was created by the UK’s African Caribbean Leukamia Trust (ACLT). One of their participants from the programme gives us the inside scoop on his training experience. […]



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