Gerry Clarke knew any challenges in promoting Ottawa’s first high school CPR program would be well worth it.
“I have a passion for empowering teens. They want to be leaders, but they need the right kind of training,” says Clarke, Deputy Director of Education for the Ottawa-Carleton Catholic District School Board. “ACT’s program offered that leadership training, by teaching teens to administer CPR training and possibly save a life.”
In 1993, ACT approached Gerry Clarke, then Superintendent of the Ottawa-Carleton Catholic District School Board, for help in bringing high school CPR to all Ottawa school boards. He embraced the project enthusiastically and stimulated support among the area superintendents.
“To make it happen, I knew I had to get commitment from the top,” explains Clarke.
With Clarke championing from within the school board ranks, board officials agreed to add high school CPR to the physical education program, pending community funding for mannequins. The Ottawa Kiwanis Club rose to that challenge and soon donated funds for mannequins for schools. The program kicked off in September 1994.
Clarke did not rest there, but asked researcher Dr. Marilyn Kasian to document the program results. Gathering data from all six school boards, Dr. Kasian found that CPR was one of the most successful units taught in the physical education and health program. These findings helped convince the Ontario Ministry of Education to add CPR to the grade nine curriculum across Ontario.
In a word of advice on high school CPR, Clarke urges: “If you’re interested in championing the high school CPR program locally or at the provincial level, learn how to get to the key decision-makers.”
The ACT High School CPR Program was made possible in Ottawa thanks to the generous support of ACT’s community partner, the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa and provincial partners, including the Government of Ontario, Hydro One and The Ontario Trillium Foundation. Mannequins and curriculum resources were donated to the school and the teachers were trained as CPR instructors for their students.
Also responsible are ACT’s core partners, companies in the research-based pharmaceutical industry: AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada, Pfizer Canada and sanofi-aventis. They provide ACT’s sustaining funding and are committed to the Foundation’s national goal of promoting health and empowering Canadians to save lives.
The Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation is an award-winning, national charitable organization dedicated to establishing CPR in high schools across Canada. ACT raises funds to donate mannequins, teacher training, manuals and other materials to schools and guides schools in program set-up and long-term sustainability. Teachers teach CPR to their students as a regular part of the curriculum. More than 900,000 youth have been trained in CPR through this lifesaving program to date.