Club 25 encourages young adults aged 16 to 25 years to give voluntary, safe blood donations. Members commit to giving blood regularly and to adopting a healthy lifestyle in order to be a low-risk donor. They raise awareness about blood donation among their peers, and motivate others to donate.
Belonging to Club 25 provides young people with the peer support that is crucial in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, with a sense of belonging, purpose and achievement.
Club 25 represents a revolution in blood banking. Young donors are providing a blood supply to save lives, but are also making a valuable, wider contribution, as they take action to safeguard their own health and support other young people to do the same.
Through Club 25, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is demonstrating one of the many ways it is world leader in health promotion.
Club 25 origins
The first Club 25 started in Zimbabwe in 1989, and 15 Club 25s have since been established across sub-Saharan Africa. There are also Club 25s in Europe, the Americas and in the Asia-Pacific region. Over 60 countries have either established a Club 25 or are working in other ways to recruit young blood donors.
Club 25 represents a shift in focus, away from viewing blood donors just as a source of blood to save lives, towards a more holistic view of them as promoters of health.
By including health promotion in the existing blood donor infrastructure, it is possible to tap into the ‘well community’ that constitutes a nation’s voluntary blood donor panel. Active and inactive blood donors are empowered to take control of their own health and support others to do the same. Safeguarding the blood supply and addressing priority health issues supports UN Millennium Development Goals.
Club 25 objectives and activities
Club 25 is creating a global movement of socially responsible young people who will become leaders in increased voluntary blood donation and community health development.
Club 25 involves blood donors in health promotion activities between their regular blood donations, or at times when they are unable to donate due to the strict criteria for blood donation.
Some clubs have extended their membership criteria to include young people who cannot donate blood, but who commit to the club’s health promotion objectives. In this way, Club 25 is a model for health promotion that is socially inclusive and fights stigma and discrimination.
Most Club 25s include an active role for members to take HIV/AIDS education to other young people, reflecting the importance of HIV status in safe blood donation and the magnitude of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the sub-Saharan African countries.
Several African countries have made community service related to HIV/AIDS mandatory for Club 25 members, and have aimed to fight stigma and discrimination by including schemes whereby Club members befriend other young people living with HIV/AIDS.
Club 25 members learn about safe sex and other health issues directly related to remaining a low-risk donor. They can address broader healthy lifestyle issues such as diet and physical exercise, use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, first aid, and road safety.
Members may also work on the underlying social issues that cause health inequalities within and between countries, such as dropping out of school, homelessness, youth unemployment, violence against young women, and climate change.
Many young blood donor groups embrace the general concepts of Club 25 but use different names. In addition to core blood donation, donor recruitment and HIV/AIDS-related activities, Club 25s around the world organize activities in order to support young donors to lead healthy lives, enable them to help others, and generally make Club 25 membership a fulfilling experience so that members continue to donate.
• inter-Club 25 sports activities in Botswana
• an annual bike ride in Eritrea to raise awareness about blood donation and to educate young people about the importance of a balanced diet and exercise
• at the world’s first International Forum: Club 25 and Health Promotion in Kenya in June 2009, members learnt about underlying social causes of health inequalities and developed local action plans
The International Club 25 movement aims to:
promote Club 25 and exchange information
support each others’ initiatives
advocate for safe blood donation and youth health promotion on a global scale
Club 25 has grown upwards from grass roots, driven by the enthusiasm of its members.
International Club 25 video