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SCHOOLS JOIN IN PROMOTING VALUE OF ORGAN DONATIONS

The hope of "Life Lessons" is that students will not only educate their peers, but also parents and other adults in their communities, about the importance of organ donation.

This week the Cheektowaga-Sloan Union Free School District agreed to become the fourth school district to take part in the program, joining Williamsville South, Mount Mercy Academy and Clarence.

"Life Lessons" coordinators said that it's likely a fifth district, Starpoint, will round out the program for the first year by agreeing, possibly as early as Friday, to take part.

"This is a program designed to help spread information about what organ and tissue donation is all about," said James Wagner, the school coordinator for upstate New York Transplant Services, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Buffalo.

Wagner is a career school administrator having served in various capacities in the Depew school system for 23 years, including a stint as the middle school principal.

With about 80,000 people nationwide hoping for a donated organ, Wagner said the program isn't just a good idea but also a necessary one.

"The hope is that these kids will take what they learn and lead their communities, then their universities and colleges, in educating about the need," he said.

One thing students will not do however, is solicit donations.

Up to 20 students could be chosen to participate in the program, which will be funded through a federal grant. The students will attend seminars from various companies including a law firm that will explain how an organization is run as well as a marketing company that will help with getting the word out.

The grant is designed to provide for growth over a three-year span.

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