Area students take 1st, 2nd in poster contest

Published: Monday, April 13, 2009
By Rachael Scarborough King

Students from two area high schools took top honors this month in Donate Life Connecticut’s annual poster design contest.

Rosanna Bernardo, of North Haven High School, and Kathleen Elliott, from Guilford High School, won first and second place, respectively, in the contest the organization sponsors as part of National Donate Life Month in April.

The month’s activities — which include events at colleges, high schools and medical facilities — are designed to raise awareness about organ and tissue donation, said Kari Mull, program coordinator for Donate Life Connecticut.

“April is just a time when we can really focus on pushing people to be educated about donation and the opportunities they have to give to another person who’s sick,” Mull said.

“It’s a month when we focus on donation awareness, discussing it with their families and making a decision for themselves that they can be happy with.”

One person’s organs and tissues can help 75 different people, Mull said.

In Connecticut, about 1,000 are waiting for transplants, while nationally that number is around 100,000.

Mull said the educational events are meant to help people decide whether to sign up to be organ and tissue donors.

The group will spend two days visiting Jonathan Law High School and Joseph Foran High School in Milford, among others.

“We’ve specifically focused on high school students because they’ll be getting their license and it’s state mandated at the DMVs that the employees ask everyone when they get their license if they want to be an organ donor,” Mull said.

“It’s an important decision so we do a lot of high school programming and we have an annul high school poster contest.”

Bernardo’s poster features a pink flower superimposed with colorful hearts and the slogan “Become an Organ and Tissue Donor and Help Another Life Bloom!”

The image will be featured on T-shirts and other promotional materials, Mull said.

State Rep. Deborah Heinrich, D-Madison, last week co-sponsored a kickoff event for Donate Life Month at the state Capitol during which the winners of the poster contest were announced.

Heinrich said she has been interested in the issue since graduate school, when she signed up for a bone marrow bank in support of a friend with diabetes.

“It’s so easy to do — all you have to do is check it off when you go get your license — so I’m very much interested in raising awareness for that,” she said.

“The most common reason that people are not organ donors is they just didn’t realize that all you had to do is check it off on your license.”

Mull said that the many of the posters from the contest will be on display in the cafeteria of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford throughout the rest of April.

For more information on National Donate Life Month and the events taking place in Connecticut, visit

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