Green Shirt Day inspires important classroom lesson for Toronto high school

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WATCH ABOVE: A Toronto high school teacher took the message of Green Shirt Day to her classroom. After watching coverage on Global News, she said she felt compelled to stress the importance of organ donation to her students – Apr 8, 2019

On Sunday, Canadians across the country donned green to mark the first-ever Green Shirt Day in Canada.

The day was created to honour the Humboldt Broncos bus crash victims and highlight the need for organ donations. Green Shirt Day was inspired by the late Broncos player Logan Boulet who saved six lives after signing his donor card.

It’s an important message that Toronto high school teacher Ellen Thorton-Burrows took right into her classroom at Central Toronto Academy.

READ MORE: Green Shirt Day inspires thousands to sign up to be an organ donor

“I know that the current organ donation and tissue donation in Canada isn’t the best, I think it could be better,” said Thorton-Burrows.

After watching coverage of the Green Shirt Day event on Global News, Thorton-Burrows said she felt inspired to do more to bring awareness to the topic. So, she crafted a two-day lesson plan for her Grade 11 Introduction to Anthropology, Psychology and Sociology classes on the importance of organ and tissue donation.

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She said her aim is to get the conversation started, a lesson she said she tries to emphasize with her students regularly.

READ MORE: Vancouver joins other B.C. cities to spread organ donation awareness on first Green Shirt Day

“I just wanted to raise awareness of this initiative, and also Logan Boulet was very young — he’s only 21 years old, close to the age of my students,” said Thorton-Burrows.

“I think [my students] like the opportunity to be given a voice, and I always want to encourage that whenever I can.”

That encouragement did help get an important conversation started for Grade 11 student Henry Kingstone with his mother.

“After we had our initial lesson, I had a conversation with my mom about potentially if the opportunity came up to sign a card that I would be interested in going through with that,” said Kingstone.

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“It’s one thing to say you’re going to donate, but it’s a whole other thing to physically go out and sign the card.”

READ MORE: ‘Longest night of my life’: doctor recalls night of Humboldt Broncos bus crash

Classmate Mira Greenberg agreed and said kids her age, for the most part, get a bad rap for not caring about topics like organ donation.

“Teenagers we get the rep of, ‘We don’t care, we don’t think about the future, we don’t think about this kind of stuff,’ but we definitely do,” said Greenberg.

“If someone needed an organ, or something had happened, I definitely want to be there to help. And I think kids, we have to start thinking about the future and what we can do start helping people more.”

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