CCHS HOSA leads for organ donation

CCHS HOSA students present their donation check to Candee Candler of Donor Network West. Students from left to right, Brynlee Shults, Broder Thurston, Whitney Skabelund and Zoey Swisher.

CCHS HOSA students present their donation check to Candee Candler of Donor Network West. Students from left to right, Brynlee Shults, Broder Thurston, Whitney Skabelund and Zoey Swisher.

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Churchill County High School’s HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) was recognized in the national 2017 Lead2Feed Challenge, earning $5,000 for charity and $2,000 for school technology.

This is the first year the CCHS HOSA has done this and their team decided their Lead2Feed donation would go to one of the leadership program’s grant recipients, Donor Network West — which is an organ procurement organization that aids lives through organ and tissue donation in northern California and Nevada.

Sponsored by health science teacher and living kidney donor Elaine Adams, “Team Have a Heart” — the name a take on the red heart symbol on registered donors’ driver’s licenses — was conceived by the students after they learned of their teacher’s story and choice to become a kidney donor to a school district colleague and friend, Teri Camacho.

Inspired as well as made aware of the over 118,000 people on the national transplant waiting list, the students were moved to share the powerful meaning of donation with their peers and community.

“The work you have done is amazing and the change is never ending. We are honored to be able to celebrate with you,” shared Lead2Feed program manager Linda Spahr with all the program’s finalists.

Adams also teaches the high-school’s HOSA Career and Technical Education course.

Lead2Feed works with teens across the country who are completing community service projects while using leadership lessons to further understand what being a leader truly means. The judges read entries for a demonstration of strategy, structure and culture along with leadership, teamwork, creativity and impact.

The organization also shared that these journeys happening nationwide are stories of real change, effort and action.

Adams reported the project goal was to raise organ donation awareness among CCHS students by educating them about organ and tissue donation facts as well as promoting conversations between students and their families.

Students were also asked to share information about organ donation on social media sites to create a social media presence among CCHS students on organ donation. The HOSA students also made public service announcements as well as created a video about Adams’ own organ donation.

Additionally, the students wrote emails to the Nevada Legislature to support the teaching of organ donor awareness to all Nevada high-school students. The team also taught 80 students in health classes, created a Snapchat #HOSAHaveAHeart account with 126 participants, produced 10 YouTube #HOSAHaveAHeart videos and took 45 screenshots of students and parents engaging in organ donation conversations.

The team reported one barrier was trying to make the educational presentations more engaging with students. They said at first the presentations were “kind of boring,” but they changed it to include a Plickers quiz and a Kahoot post-assessment about organ donation.

Another barrier involved some technology; they said they had already finished an ad when they tried to upload it, and they couldn’t unless they had a premium account.

Student team member Ashley Briggs said she applied leadership principles to the project by working with her group to produce a powerful, informative advertisement about organ donation, adding they also informed their classmates about related facts and shared the ad on social media.

“Lesson one was the most powerful for me,” said Caitlyn Welch of the Lead2Feed principles taught. “This lesson taught me to be my best me I can be. It taught me that I need to believe in myself and have self-confidence in everything I do. You need to learn how to overcome all the obstacles in your life to become the best you can be.”

Student Stacy Kalt said her favorite lesson was number two, “The Power of People.”

“It reflects on who is important in your life and who will help you get where you want to be,” she said. “People play a big role in future success and if you surround yourself with the right people, you will be successful. It is important to know that people are helping, caring and supportive.”

Adams reflected on the project as well.

“The students say their project was inspired by me but quite honestly, I am the one inspired by them,” she said. “It has been a joy watching their hard work pay off, and heartwarming to know that it’s in service of the life-saving gift of donation. Though I have a personal story about donation, seeing the students develop their own connection to donation has been very gratifying for me.”

The grants for Donor Network West and CCHS come on the heels of the passage of Nevada’s Senate Bill 112. Signed into law by Governor Brian Sandoval in May, the bill requires Nevada high schools to begin providing organ and tissue donation information in educational programming for health and science classes.

“As an organization focused on saving and healing lives through organ and tissue donation, education is at the heart of our mission,” said Cindy Siljestrom, CEO of Donor Network West. “These students were generous with their time and efforts to inspire their peers to become registered donors. Their commitment paid off with this award, which will help fund further community education.”

Nearly 600 people are waiting for an organ transplant in Nevada. One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people and a tissue donor can heal more than 75 others. Anyone can register as a donor at or at the DMV.

Elanie Adams, Lead2Feed and Donor Network West contributed to this story.


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