Organs – how we use them and care for them better – was the theme at this year’s health fayre in Dalziel High School.
And it was an apt theme, given that the 2017 Westfield Health British Transplant Games will be held in North Lanarkshire this July.
Donation conversations were high on the list of topics for the fayre, enjoyed by the school’s 965 pupils as well as youngsters from several feeder primaries – Knowetop, Ladywell and Glencairn.
The event earlier this month kicked off with an opening ceremony, attended by four very special guests of honour.
Games mascot Haggi cheered the guest speakers on – namely Melissa Fraser, whose son was the recipient of a kidney transplant, John McDevitt, a former janitor at Dalziel who also received a transplant and depute provost Jean Jones.
Jane Donnelly, one of the event organisers and a geography teacher at the school, said: “We were delighted that Melissa and John were able to share their own transplant stories with the pupils.
“It was interesting for the pupils to hear their personal stories, which brought home to them the real need there is for organ transplants.”
The opening ceremony was followed by a week of activities at the school.
Lunch time every day heralded different sporting events including beach volleyball, Futsal, a dance competition and a staff versus pupils rowing challenge.
Of that event, Jane said: “It was a very tight contest and the staff tried very hard but the pupils beat them hands down!
“These kind of events are good fun for both staff and pupils but it also gives the students a chance to try something they might not usually attempt.”
Indeed, youngsters were able to enjoy taster sessions in a number of different sports throughout the week.
Olympic silver medallist rower, Gillian Lyndsay, also delivered a motivational talk to senior pupils.
But behind the fun lay an important message.
Jane explained: “We take health promotion very seriously at the school, through health and well-being lessons, sporting activities and extra curricular events.
“We aim to create opportunities for every pupil of Dalziel to become the healthiest version of themselves and the health fayre is part of that process.”
In a bid to steer the donation conversation, an Anthony Nolan registration day was held and there was also an opportunity for senior pupils and staff to donate blood.
Some 49 donations of blood were given.
Jane said: “We want the pupils to know just how important it is to give blood and to carry an organ donor card.
“With the British Transplant Games being held here this summer, it was an apt theme.
“Everyone enjoyed themselves but the pupils also learned a lot about blood and organ donation in the lead up to the Games.”
The NHS Organ Donor Register is a confidential list of people who want to donate their organs and/or tissue.
Joining the register makes it easier for everyone to know an individual’s wishes and follow them.
People who register receive a donor card and are asked to tell their family and friends about their decision.
You can register by filling out a form online or calling 0300 123 23 23.
Or you can sign up when you register for a driving licence, at a GP surgery or for a European Health Insurance card (EHIC).
Andy Eddy, of Transplant Sport, said: “We are delighted to be taking the Games back to Scotland for the fourth time this summer.
“We really hope that our message of having the donation conversation will ensure that more families give consent to the donation of their loved ones’ organs.”
Graham Moore, Westfield Health chairman, agreed saying: “Communicating the value of transplantation and the need to get more names on the Organ Donor Register is vital.
“We are very proud to play our part in sharing this message across North Lanarkshire.”
* The front cover of this year’s health fayre programme was designed by Jamie McKellar from Knowetop Primary.
All of the primary schools were asked to design a front cover and each school had their own winner.
But Jamie was the overall winner and was invited to attended the health fayre’s opening ceremony.
Let the Games begin
The British Transplant Games are the flagship project of the charity Transplant Sport.
The Games have been in existence for more than 30 years with the first Transplant Olympics taking place in Portsmouth in 1978.
At that time, the Games were an international event and included teams from France, Greece and even the USA.
Since those early beginnings with competitors, affectionately known as “99 blooming miracles”, the Games have continued to grow and are held every year in different cities throughout the UK.
The British Transplant Games have been staged annually since 1978 in 17 host cities across the UK including Portsmouth (1994), Edinburgh (2007), Belfast (1998), Medway (2012), Sheffield (2013), Bolton (2014), Newcastle Gateshead (2015) and Liverpool (2016).
The Games aim to demonstrate the benefits of transplantation, encouraging transplant patients to regain fitness, while increasing public awareness of the need for more people to join the NHS Organ Donation Register and discuss their wishes with their families. They also seek to thank and celebrate donor families and the gift of life.
The 2017 Games will be held in North Lanarkshire from Thursday, July 27, to Sunday, July 30.
Officially launched at Colzium House in Kilsyth in November last year, the Games are expected to attract more than 750 transplant athletes and more than 1500 supporters.
They will include more than 20 sporting events and competitions, from fishing through to track and field. Swimming will take place in the Sir Matt Busby Sport Complex in Bellshill with athletics at Wishaw Sports Centre. All the other sports will be delivered at key local sports hubs.