Teen leaves Cochrane High legacy in her own way

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Teenager Tailleur Oulton didn’t rip up the soccer field or leap over hurdles during her time as a student at Cochrane High. So she wondered, as she approached her senior year, if she would get a chance to make her mark at a school where sports reigns supreme.

But last week – after receiving a banner from Canadian Blood Services that will hang alongside the abundance of athletic pennants in the Cochrane High gymnasium – Oulton knew she had truly contributed something that was worthy of celebration..

“That was actually the really cool part,” said Oulton. “I didn’t really think I would leave a legacy at this school.”

Last year, Oulton spearheaded a campaign with a group of fellow students to take part in the Give Life National High School Blood Challenge – an initiative to draw as many donations as possible over several months. The competition pitted the school against others from around the country – and, true to form, Cochrane High came out on top, taking the national title for Most Blood Donations and Highest Number of New Donors for 2016-17.

In return, the organization awarded the school last week with $1,400 – and a bright red banner – to commemorate the win.

Director of donor relations Susan Matsumoto said since one donation helps save or improve the lives of three people, the Cochrane High crew’s efforts to bring in 545 donations served more than 1,500 Canadians in need.

“It’s a great start to creating a lifetime of donating,” said Matsumoto, adding many who start giving blood in their teens often make it a long-term relationship. “What we really need to sustain the system is people who donate on a regular basis. Blood products have a shelf life, so because of that, you can’t stockpile it for the future. It’s a constant need.”

Cochrane high biology teacher Stephanie Bennett helped facilitate the project last year. She said the blood drive not only gave youth an opportunity to volunteer and give back to their community – it also gave her a chance to show her students some real-life science curriculum in action.

“They watch right before their eyes: it clots here,” she said. “It’s just a win win win win win win situation.”

This year, Cochrane High has already started defending their title, with the first blood drive held last week. Those who give can direct their donations to the school’s pledge by registering at www.blood.ca/joinpartnersforlife with ID COCH657981.

The challenge continues until May 31, 2018.

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