Pride players go to jail for a cause
LOTUS Glen inmates beat the Northern Pride 5-0 in a game of touch footy at the prison yesterday but it was spreading the DonateLife message about donating organs that was the real winner on the day.
Prison GM Peter Henderson said it was "unheard of" having a team of professional sportsmen coming to the jail for such an event, with around 500 inmates taking part in training sessions with the Pride.
Northern Pride captain Ty Williams said some of the inmates could give the professionals a run for their money and Mr Henderson commented that some of the prisoners were talented sportsmen.
Lotus Glen was chosen as a venue to spread the message about organ donation in remote communities because 77 per cent of the prison population of about 650 was Indigenous with about 85 per cent of them coming from the Cape.
"To see local sporting heroes, like the Pride, reach out to culturally diverse communities is inspiring," Mr Henderson said.
Sonja Johnson, CEO of Regional Development Australia for the Far North and Torres Straits, said that the DonateLife project fitted with one of its priorities of targeting health in remote communities.
Northern Pride's visit to the jail was a novel way of getting the message about organ donating across, she said.
Prisoners had one-on-one time with their families and friends and would talk about the day they played footy with the Northern Pride and about the message they received about the importance of organ donation.
Ms Johnson said that there were 1600 people waiting for an organ transplant nationally, 1100 of them needing a new kidney.
Some 66 per cent of dialysis patients in the Far North were indigenous, she said.
Loren Ginders, clinical nurse consultant for DonateLife, said that national awareness week encouraged people to find out about organ donation and to let their families know their wishes in the event of their death.
"It is easier for families to make a decision at the time if they know what your wishes are," she said.
She emphasised that being a potential donor was no longer done by a tick on a driving licence.
People could register online with Medicare, make a phone call or get a brochure from a Medicare office.
Northern Pride commercial manager Brock Schaefer said that they attended 380 community events a year as part of their award-winning Take Pride organisation with people like Ty Williams as role models.
"He can use his profile and education to deliver really powerful messages and have them accepted in a way that often formal community workers find difficult."
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Popular visit: Northern Pride captain Ty Williams leaves the field after a game of touch with Lotus Glen inmates. Picture: TOM LEE