Saturday, May 26, 2018
Education

LifeSouth representatives teach Hernando students about blood

BROOKSVILLE

Eastside Elementary School second-grade students held their plastic cups, stirring and adding ingredients.

Once finished, they had cups of Kool-Aid with Tic Tacs and gummy bears in them.

Then LifeSouth Community Blood Centers district community development coordinator Tom Davis said, "Go ahead and drink your blood."

There was a lesson in all of this.

The children had made cups of model blood as part of a presentation LifeSouth representatives aimed at developing a new generation of donors — once they become old enough. Throughout the week of Oct. 1, students met by class in the school's SPARK center with blood bank representatives to learn about the "Five Points of Life."

There are "five ways you can save a life with donations," said science resource teacher Wanda Bailey, who helped coordinate the event with LifeSouth. Those five ways are blood, plasma (apheresis), organ and tissue, marrow and cord blood.

"We started working together last year planning this," Bailey said. "I feel that our kids don't get enough exposure to be givers. They can give blood, and it doesn't cost anything."

The blood bank representatives tailored their presentation for various grade levels.

For kindergarten through second grade, the terms were basic.

"We don't get into anything but the simple parts of blood," Davis said.

Third- through fifth-graders hear more about cells and the different ways to donate.

At middle school and high school levels, students see a more in-depth presentation, including blood typing for high-schoolers.

Although the Eastside students are too young to donate blood, part of the week's goal was to get donations from their parents and the school staff as the bloodmobile made a two-day stop.

The students were given plenty of incentive to convince their families to come to the school and donate.

Donors received T-shirts, hot dogs and chips. As donors signed in, they provided the name of the student for whom they were donating. Those children also received T-shirts. And the class with the most donors was promised a pizza party.

Davis was at Eastside with donor recruiter Kristiana DiPilla. Mobile 1 team captain Tony Hernandez also helped out during the week.

"This is one of our programs that we've been doing for five or six years," Davis said.

It has three main focuses: educating students on blood biology, providing a social awareness of the benefit of blood donations and trying to encourage children to donate when they are adults.

That final focus has a motto: "I am the donation generation."

At the conclusion of each session, the children were reminded of the motto by looking at their temporary tattoos that said just that.

Davis said the programs seem to help. He said he saw donations jump significantly at a blood drive soon after a similar program at another school.

The school programs are modeled after America Blood Center's national program.

"They call theirs 'My blood, your blood,' " Davis said, "which we modified to meet Florida state standards."

Eastside Elementary principal Tim Urban came into the SPARK room to catch some of the action. He said this kind of program "helps us produce good, positive citizens and promotes curriculum."

The children thought making blood was fun — and delicious — but they also learned a thing or two.

Second-grader Seth Webb, 7, said "the red blood cells help you breathe" and platelets "make a scab."

Said classmate Gabby Erickson, 7: "White blood cells help fight the germs."

Second-grader Lori Stoots, 8, realized the significance of blood donations.

"To help other people, because some people lose blood (like) when something bites you," she said.

And after "car crashes," Seth said.

Or, Gabby added, "whenever you get cut by glass very bad."

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