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Student Athletes Further Red Cross Mission
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Amanda Christopher , National headquarters
August 28, 2007

What happens when you offer college athletes American Red Cross leadership training and give them the opportunity to serve on Red Cross blood region advisory boards and support Red Cross blood drives on their school campuses? The answer is clear to the Red Cross - you are investing in tomorrow’s leaders.

Inaugural Red Cross/NAIA Collaboration Participants
The students learned leadership skills and engaged in strategic planning in preparation for conducting blood drives on their campuses.
(Photo credit: Jennifer Lourie/American Red Cross)

As part of its support for Red Cross diversity initiatives, State Farm is sponsoring partnership activities between the humanitarian organization and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Out of this new partnership comes the inaugural ARC/NAIA Youth Leadership Program which involves 11 NAIA students this year.

The students recently attended a training session at Red Cross national headquarters where they learned leadership skills and engaged in strategic planning in preparation for conducting blood drives on their campuses. They will also participate on the Red Cross blood region advisory boards in their local communities. Several of the students have already attended their first board meetings.

To learn more about how this important partnership is helping youth develop new skills, RedCross.org asked participating students to describe what they learned and how they plan to increase blood donations on their college campuses. In the coming months, students will have more opportunities to report on how their plans are progressing.

Meghann Hess

Meghann, a junior at Ursuline College (Ohio) majoring in business administration and marketing, plans to graduate in 2009. She hails from the small town of Burton in Northeast Ohio and plays volleyball for Ursuline.

"Coming into this program, most of us were unsure of what the American Red Cross does. We knew the Red Cross collects blood and helps in times of disaster, but we never knew about all the miracles that go on behind the scenes.

This is one of the most critical points to explain to our college campuses and communities. We need to help them understand the importance of what the Red Cross does and how each volunteer, employee and blood donor plays a role in saving lives.

I am very excited to be part of this organization and making a difference in the lives of others. I feel it has changed my perspective and helped me become more aware of what I can do to make a difference."

Kim Stoutenberg

Kim, a junior at Siena Heights University (Mich.), is from Roscommon/Higgins Lake, Michigan. Kim holds the position of vice president in the Sport Management Association and serves as captain of the women’s soccer team. Kim recently attended the Ohio-Michigan donor recruitment rally where she learned useful techniques on how to properly give a presentation, set an agenda and run sales calls.

"I believe the ARC/NAIA Youth Leadership Program offered us a wonderful opportunity to become active members of our local college communities and provided us the support and knowledge to motivate other students to become involved. Not only does the program encourage local community involvement, it also allows us to serve one-year terms as board members for our blood regions. As board members, we will attend and participate in regular board meetings, give helpful advice and insight about advertising and promoting to college students and provide feedback as we implement our strategic plans.

On our campuses we will promote blood donations through the various forms of motivation that we learned during our two-week training program at the American Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C. Some of our goals include increasing the number of overall donors on each campus, building relationships with donors to support committed blood donations, creating a personal connection between the donor and the donation process and educating people about the need for, and importance of, blood.

We plan to use new and creative ideas to target college-age students, spread awareness of the Red Cross and its mission and goals and promote repeat blood donations. We have already begun organizing these ideas into strategic plans that we will implement on our campuses throughout the next academic year. Some of these ideas include new, inspiring advertisements, Red Cross videos, recipients’ stories, key speakers, raffles, competitions, community announcements, 'Life Saver' facts and so on."

Derek Watson

Derek is a sophomore and tennis player attending Bethany College (Kansas) and majoring in biology. He is from Junction City, Kansas.

"When I first received word that I was chosen to be a part of this program, I felt it was an opportunity that could not be passed up. The American Red Cross has been around for a long time and has done so much to help people in need without prejudice, and that is something I wanted to be a part of.

I now have the chance and the resources to go out and spread the good news about the Red Cross while also enriching my own life, knowing that I am making a difference. Also, I can attempt to persuade others to join the Red Cross as a blood donor or…become a volunteer and be available to help those who experience a disaster.

In Washington, D.C., our group came to the consensus that a key component of low donations among college students is a lack of knowledge about both giving blood and when blood drives are occurring. My strategy is to get the word out about the drive early, so students can clear their schedules, and also hold information sessions to clear up misconceptions that might scare students away from donating. I hope that these strategies will be successful when it comes time to implement them in October."

Stay tuned for an update this fall on the progress the 11 students are making on their college campuses with regard to blood drives and on Red Cross blood region advisory boards.

The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. Almost 4 million people gave blood through the Red Cross, the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.

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