HARRISBURG, Pa., March 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The tradition of stepping has been a part of the African-American sorority and fraternity experience for decades. Spoken word as a performance art dates back to the legacy of storytelling that has existed for generations.
For the first-time ever, an event that combines these two expressions will be featured as a part of the state's effort to raise awareness about the importance of organ and tissue donor designation among African-Americans.
The event, entitled Step Up to Speak Up, will feature step teams from historically African-American fraternities and sororities along with spoken word performers sharing their talents around the importance of organ and tissue donation for African Americans. The events are free with the first one taking place Friday, March 12 in Pittsburgh, 6 - 8 p.m., at August Wilson Center for African American Culture. A second event will occur in Philadelphia on Saturday, March 27, 6 - 8 p.m., at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
"While African Americans make up 11 percent of the state's overall population, they represent nearly 32 percent of Pennsylvanians waiting for organ donor transplants," said Department of Health Deputy Secretary Janice P. Kopelman. "People of color also suffer disproportionately from health conditions such as heart disease, hypertension and kidney failure for which a transplant represents a viable medical option. These two facts alone speak to the critical need for registered donors from the African-American community in Pennsylvania."
Step Up to Speak Up is an opportunity for student leaders and members of the spoken word community to educate their peers about the significance of organ donor designation. More than 2,550 African-Americans are in need of organ or tissue transplantation. More than half of these individuals will wait over a year for a transplant, with many waiting for at least five years. Since there is greater likelihood of transplant success among members of the same ethnic and racial group, it is important to continue providing awareness of the need for African-American donors.
Leading up to each event, a donor ambassador will be selected from participating campuses to organize events and educate their fellow students about organ donation and promoting Step Up to Speak Up. While both events are free, tickets will be required for admission.
"I decided to get involved with Step Up to Speak Up to help educate others about the overall importance of organ donation, and more personally, the importance of being an African-American designated organ donor. The opportunity to save a life is the most precious gift you can ever give someone, which is why I decided to become a donor," added Cory Johnson, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Temple University.
Step Up to Speak Up is part of a statewide Donate Life campaign by the Pennsylvania Department of Health through its two organ procurement organizations [Gift of Life in Philadelphia and the Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE) in Pittsburgh] to raise awareness for becoming registered as organ and tissue donors within the African-American community.
Statewide retailer Villa is one of the event's sponsors and will outfit the performers while providing participants who attend with coupons and gift cards for merchandise. For more information about Step Up to Speak Up, visit www.StepUptoSpeakUp.org. For more information about becoming an organ and tissue donor, visit www.donatelife-pa.org.
CORE is a regional not-for-profit agency that is the primary call center and intermediary for the organ recovery and allocation process that serves 155 hospitals and more than six million people in western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Chemung County in New York. CORE has helped to pioneer organ procurement allocation and recovery for this region since it was founded in 1977 as the Pittsburgh Transplant Foundation. For more information visit www.core.org
About Gift of Life Donor Program
Since 1974, Gift of Life Donor Program has served as the link between donors and patients awaiting life-saving transplants in the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. In that tenure, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 29,000 life-saving organ transplants and hundreds of thousand tissue transplants. For more information, visit www.donors1.org
Life Begins with You Campaign
The Life Begins with You campaign is a collaborative initiative between Gift of Life Donor Program (GOL), the Center for Organ & Recovery Education (CORE) - the two organ procurement organizations serving Pennsylvania - and the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Transportation. It is funded by state residents through voluntary contributions included with driver's license renewals, vehicle registrations and state income tax filings. All contributions are used by the Governor Robert P. Casey Memorial Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Trust Fund to educate residents, build awareness about the importance of organ and tissue donation, and increase the number of people who sign up to become donors on their driver's license, learner's permit or state identification card.
One Extraordinary Way to Say Love Life
When you choose to become an organ and tissue donor, you have the power to give the most precious gift - life. Join the nearly four million Pennsylvanians who have said "yes" to organ and tissue donation by adding the donor designation to your driver's license, learner's permit or state identification card. Sign up to be an organ and tissue donor today by visiting www.donatelife-pa.org because Life Begins with You.
The Facts on Organ and Tissue Donation Among African Americans in Pennsylvania
It is important for everyone to sign up to become an organ and tissue donor and there is an even greater need within the African American community.
The course of history can be changed by increasing the number of people who receive life saving transplants each year. In fact, one organ and tissue donor can give more than 50 people a second chance at life!
How long is the wait for African Americans?
In Pennsylvania, African Americans represent 11.4 percent of deceased donors and 12.8 percent of living donors to date.
Pennsylvania State Transplant Waiting List Report
All Organs Kidney Liver Pancreas All Ethnicities 8,061 5,765 1,431 207 White 4,741 2,887 1,172 175 Black 2,551 2,274 155 20 Hispanic 456 336 76 9 Asian 258 222 23 3 American Indian/ Alaska Native 16 12 3 0 Pacific Islander 4 4 0 0 Multiracial 35 30 2 0 Kidney/ Heart Lung Heart/ Intestine Pancreas Lung All Ethnicities 200 207 140 8 103 White 156 165 113 4 69 Black 31 33 17 1 20 Hispanic 11 5 5 2 12 Asian 2 3 3 0 2 American Indian/ Alaska Native 0 1 0 0 0 Pacific Islander 0 0 0 0 0 Multiracial 0 0 2 1 0
According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) as of 12.11.09. For updated information, go to http://www.optn.org
SOURCE DonateLife-PABack to top
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