Lending a hand isn’t enough for St John Bosco College students, with many lending an arm and saving lives by giving blood.
School-based donation programs such as the one at the Engadine college may be helping to reverse a decline in the number of youth blood donors, said Australian Blood Service spokesperson Jemma Falkenmire.
“We’ve found that donating as part of a group is significantly appealing to young people, and that first time donors are more likely to do so as a group,” she said.
“With the number of younger donors decreasing recently, and an aging population, school blood donation initiatives like this are critically important to replace many of our older donors who are reaching retirement.”
This week marks National Blood Donor Week in Australia, with 14 June World Blood Donor Day. One in three Australians relies on donated blood products to survive, and donations are vital. Teenagers can make their first donation between the ages of 16 and 18.
“It’s important we replace those donors with youth donors, and that our youth donors make blood donation a life-long habit,” Miss Falkenmire said.
St John Bosco College senior students are required to complete 30 hours of community service, ranging from giving blood to volunteering with local sport, under the guidance of pastoral care co-ordinator Simone Babic.
Mrs Babic organises up to four visits to the Miranda Blood Bank each term, taking five students to donate for the first time.
“When we’re there we often see ex-student who have come back to donate,” she said.
Year 12 student and community service leader Siobhan McDonnell helps to co-ordinate Blood Bank visits for St John Bosco College students.
“This enables the students to have the opportunity to take part in an amazing cause that helps save lives,” she said.
As community service leader, she encourages pupils to participate in community events and supports senior students in completing their community service.
“It’s all about getting the students involved in different activities and allowing them to participate in new experiences whilst giving back to the community.”
Chelsea Ryan joined Siobhan and fellow St John Bosco College students Sarah Dacunha, Denzal Laarakkers, and Bridget Mansfield in giving blood last month.
“The atmosphere was so friendly and encouraging and it felt great to be able to give back to those who really are in need and fulfilling my position as the youth ambassador for blood donations at my school,” she said.
“It is the best feeling to be able to give something back to the community, which is why I love that St John Bosco College promotes community service.”
Mrs Babic said many students exceed the college’s required 30 hours of community service, with some logging more than 200 hours.
“I strongly believe this is pivotal in shaping the atmosphere of Bosco, because it’s giving back to the community.”