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Students in the Écopleinair program at École secondaire l'Odyssée climbed Mont Valcourt. Their objective: to highlight the importance of organ and tissue donation education in schools. The event was organized as part of World Day for Organ and Tissue Transplantation.

By Sébastien Michon | This article was first published in French in Le Val-Ouest on October 29, 2023.

In support of Chain of Life

The walk was organized in support of Chain of Life. This charitable organization has developed a program to educate young people aged 15 to 17 about organ and tissue donation in school. At Odyssée, this program is taught as part of the Secondary IV English as a second language course.

"I'm alive thanks to organ donation."

Community organizer Michel Benoit, who works for the Public Health Department, is involved in this initiative as part of the government's "Healthy Schools Approach," which offers the promotion of health and prevention measures in schools.

During his visits, Michel Benoit explains to students the importance of organ donation. He has received two liver transplants in his lifetime. "I'm alive and have children thanks to organ donation. It's definitely

"A personal reflection and choice"

For him, it's important that students have a discussion with their parents about the issue. "There's no point in just signing your [health insurance] card if you don't talk to your loved ones about it. Donating your organs is a reflection and a personal choice."

As part of the "Healthy Schools Approach," community organizer Michel Benoit meets with Odyssée youth to raise awareness about organ donation. 

Participation in the Challenge

For the past two years, Michel Benoit has been meeting students in class to talk about his experiences and answer their questions. This year, however, he chose to go one step further. Along with the Ecopleinair team, he decided to take part in the 2023 Chain of Life Challenge. 

As such, throughout Quebec and abroad, people climbed mountains to carry the organization's flag to the summit. "It's important to remember that without donors, and without donor families, no life can be saved. By better educating the public about the context of organ donation and encouraging them to inform their loved ones of their wishes, we greatly facilitate a decision that must be made in a context of urgency and great distress," explains Lucie Dumont, founding president of Chain of Life.

The vital role of education

Upon dying, just over 1% of people meet the criteria for organ donation (head trauma, stroke, drowning and suicide). Education therefore plays an important role. "Organ donation is an extraordinary act of generosity that changes lives, creates invisible links between families and strengthens human solidarity," continues Lucie Dumont.

A successful hike on Mont Valcourt

The organizers of the Valcourt hike had to obtain permission from the private landowner, who once a year allows a snowshoe hike as part of the "Festi-val en neige" event.

In the morning, the teens built shelters in teams and took part in a nature observation activity. The municipality of Valcourt then graciously opened its premises to them for lunch. The climb took place in the afternoon. 

"All our travelling was done by bike to contribute to the school's Carbon Neutral project. It's a great collaboration among players from different backgrounds: health, school and the municipality. It was a great success. The students thoroughly enjoyed their day," reports Michel Benoit.

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