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Boy Scouts can now earn organ donor awareness patch amid pandemic

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Some Indiana Boy Scouts are earning patches and helping raise awareness of organ donation in a new way thanks to a partnership between Donate Life Indiana and the Boy Scouts of America.

“If we can educate one more person and plant the seed and then they educate somebody else, we have an opportunity to help save more lives,” said Andi Amburgey Atherine, co-director, Donate Life Indiana.

April is National Donate Life Month and the need right now is higher than ever.

Amburgey Atherine says they typically get about 90% of their donor registrations at the BMV which are currently closed because of COVID-19.

In an effort to move awareness efforts virtually, Donate Life Indiana looked to a familiar partner for help.

“Teaming with the Boy Scouts of America made sense because scouts are all about service learning and wanting to help others,” said Amburgey Atherine.

Scouts must complete three requirements to earn the new awareness patch, where as a traditional merit badge takes 8-12 requirements, but Donate Life Indiana says they recognized the need to offer students something to do while stuck at home.

The requirements include watching YouTube videos on organ donation, completing an activity using the donate life colors blue and green and then talking about organ donation with an adult in person, via phone or zoom.

Some parents and scouts say the goal of the Awareness Patch program is to spark a conversation that can be difficult to have.

“They have the normal questions like ‘why would you want to give your skin away?’ So, we circle back to explaining when my spirit is gone, if we can continue to do something good with the vessel that was our body then that’s what we’re going to do,” said Ben Blumenberg of the Boy Scouts of America Sagamore Council.

Scout Nathan Rush earned his patch by talking to his grandfather, who is a kidney transplant recipient, and by hanging a blue and green art piece he made in the window.

“It put into perspective how much one thing can help so many other people. If you’re in an accident or something were to happen, that those organs could go to help someone else that would need it,” said Rush, who is a freshman at Eastern High School in Greentown, Indiana.

The Awareness Patch program is new, but Blumenberg expects to see a rise in the number of earned patches in the coming weeks.

“We’ve seen more merit badges earned now than any other week of the year except for our summer programs, Blumenberg added.

Donate Life Indiana wants to remind everyone that even if you’re not a scout, you can still spread awareness by wearing blue and green and posting to social media.

You can also register to become an organ donor here.