Written by Zoe Engels, Contributing Writer and Editor
We’re excited to share more about Versiti, an Organ Procurement Organization, and their CodeR program, which stands for Classmates for Organ Donation Education and Registration. CodeR helps foster a new generation of advocates by informing high school students in Wisconsin about organ and tissue donation and supporting their outreach efforts.
Versiti currently helps support two SODA chapters. To see if your school has one of these chapters or to start a chapter on your campus, click here.
In 2018, Versiti launched a trial of CodeR in some of the schools in their service areas. According to Jamelah Johnson, Versiti’s Community Outreach Partner, with feedback from those sessions and meetings with community stakeholders, they decided to formally develop CodeR into what the program is today.
“The inspiration behind this program was the deficit in our community about organ and tissue donation,” Johnson told SODA via email. “There’s a lot of misconceptions in the community about what we do, and there’s no better [time] to start breaking those myths [than] by confronting them early on with youths. We thought it was crucial to begin with high school students as they might have drivers ed in their future, which is one of the first places youths encounter organ and tissue donation registry.”
CodeR is free, flexible, and easily accessible. The program begins with an introductory session in which a Versiti community outreach partner joins the classroom and provides students with an overview of organ and tissue donation. Teachers who participate get a digital teaching guide that includes PowerPoint presentations, testimonials, and activities divided into five class sessions.
Johnson said the five-module curriculum includes a deeper dive into organ donation, deeper dive into tissue donation, information about health and wellness, and information for professional development and career exploration. Each student receives a handbook to review and follow along.
Next, students get to select a service project of their choice related to organ and tissue donation, and they collaborate to complete that project. The program “finale” is an immersive, on-site tour of Versiti’s headquarters at which students get to present their completed service project.
Beyond the classroom curriculum, Johnson notes that Versiti will “engage students as ambassadors to volunteer in events and be featured in our marketing materials. In addition, we have an option for creative collaborations where students can share their artwork or poetry, which we will share on our social media and at our events.”
In the short term, Versiti hopes to get as many Milwaukee Public Schools signed up for CodeR as possible. In the long term, they are aiming to get their curriculum established as a requirement in all the schools in their service area.
For OPOs who wish to begin an educational program like CodeR, Johnson’s advice is to consider your audience and collaborate with your community.
To learn more about CodeR and signup, check out Versiti’s Community Resources page. Interested teachers will complete an orientation session with Versiti’s outreach partner to discuss expectations and set paths toward achieving their goals.