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Libby Char, Hawaii

Despite her extremely busy work schedule as an emergency physician, as the Medical Director for EMS and several of Hawaii’s first responder agencies and the  American Heart Association Hawaii Division Board President Libby Char, M.D. still finds time to support American Heart Association policy efforts to make Hawaii healthier.

She sees the value of using policy change as a way to more quickly and efficiently change public norms that will result in improved public health.  Dr. Char has supported our efforts this year to require all newborns to be screened for congenital heart defects, requiring all high school students to receive CPR training prior to graduation, and development of policy aimed at improving Hawaii’s stroke system of care.

Just one example of the great work Char has done was earlier this year when she, along with other AHA volunteer advocates, met with the Hawaii Dept. of Education assistant superintendent of the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Student Support, Leila Hayashida, to propose changes to the high school health class curriculum that would require CPR instruction to be included. Completion of a health class is required for graduation.

AHA volunteers also worked with Hawaii Department of Health representatives to provide funding to the DOE to purchase CPR manikins and training equipment for health classes. AHA CPR trainers also taught the DOE’s health class resource teachers in how to implement simple “hands-only” CPR training, so that they can train the classroom instructors.

The AHA’s “hands-only” CPR can be taught in just one class period. Dr. Char believes that every student should receive that life-saving lesson prior to graduation. In places like Seattle where this type of policy has been mandated survival rates from cardiac arrest have risen to above 60 percent, while in Hawaii survival rates remain below the national average of approximately 30 percent. Imagine if every high school student going forward learned CPR in school how many more people in our communities could be prepared to save a life.

Brittany Badicke, Oregon

My name is Brittany Badicke, and I’m one of AHA’s Oregon Advocacy Interns. This summer, I’ll be working on our Tobacco Control efforts, with the ultimate goal of giving more Oregonians access to resources to help them quit smoking, and ensuring fewer actually start smoking. Smoking remains the number one preventable cause of disease in Oregon.

I grew up in Longview, Washington and after graduating high school became a Certified Nursing Assistant, and began pre-requisites for nursing school. Thinking acute care was my niche, and with more opportunity to work in an acute care setting in Oregon, I earned my CNA II acute care license and moved to Portland, Oregon. After years of working as a CNA, and meeting several patients that were suffering from preventable diseases, I realized that my passion is in health promotion and disease prevention, which led me to pursue a degree in health education.

Currently, I am a Health Studies student at Portland State University where I will graduate with my Bachelor of Science in Community Health Education in March of 2015. After graduating, my goal is to put my undergraduate degree and passion for promoting healthy behavior to use in the field before applying to the dual MPH/MSW program at Portland State University.

In the future, I’d like to dedicate my time to promoting healthy behavior focusing on education and systematic change, which is why I am beyond thrilled to be an intern for the American Heart Association! I am excited about this wonderful opportunity to learn and practice advocacy skills while gaining hands-on experience that is impossible to learn in a classroom, as well as to meet and work with like-minded people that are actively working for healthier communities.

We have a lot of work to do over the next few months and it’s only with the help of volunteers that we’ll be able to accomplish our goals for a healthier and safer Oregon. I wanted to introduce you to one of those important people, Grace Clark, our newest advocacy volunteer.

Grace is working as a Research and Outreach Coordinator on two of our obesity prevention campaigns: Junk Food Marketing (banning it in schools, that is) and Safe Routes to Schools (ensuring kids have safe, active ways of getting to school). Both of these efforts are part of AHA’s national initiative, Voices for Healthy Kids.

Grace comes to Oregon by way of the University of New Mexico, with a BS in Nutrition/Dietetics. She is currently a dietary aide at a rehab and specialty care hospital. Grace is excited to gain experience advocating for policy and would like to become a Registered Dietician. New to Oregon, she is happy to be here and loving the greenery.

Here’s what Grace wanted to share with you about why she cares about ensuring everyone has a chance to make healthy lifestyle choices:

“When I started school at the University of New Mexico I didn’t know what I wanted to study. Because I had always been involved in the theaters in my schools and community, it seemed like the logical next step to get involved in theatre in college. Long story short, I did not like the theater program at UNM and was in great need of a change.

“During this time I had started to develop certain health issues that caused me to pay very close attention to what I ate, this lead me to become fascinated by food and how it can make/break your body. Plus, I started dating a chef, so it was a natural progression for my life to become centered on food. After taking my first formal nutrition course I discovered that there was an actual major called Nutrition/Dietetics, and the rest is history!

“I officially became a Nutrition/Dietetics major and the deeper I got into the program the more passionate I became about reaching out and helping others, especially those who may be unable to help themselves. I am still unsure about my exact path, but through this opportunity with the AHA I am discovering a whole new way to fulfill my passion. I am excited about working with everyone and look forward to where this opportunity will take me!”

Feel free to send Grace a note of welcome, or to let her know if you’d like to get involved on either of these campaigns: t-grace.clark@heart.org.

In association with the American Heart Association, Idaho-AHPERD has been working diligently for the past two years to strengthen Physical Education (PE) requirements in the state of Idaho. Meetings were conducted to poll the top priorities for PE requirements and included physical education teachers from all around the state, key stake holders, and a health lobbyist.

The proposed requirements started off with many elements, but were modified several times. In the end, specific amounts of time for PE classes were suggested as a state requirement in elementary, junior high/middle school, and high school. Along with the PE requirement, it was proposed to teach CPR in junior high/middle school, and again in high school.

In February, the Idaho Senate Education Committee, after postponing the vote four different times, rejected the PE minutes requirement for all schools. They passed the CPR requirement, but not the PE minutes/week. Unfortunately, this means the PE requirement is done for this legislative session. Idaho-AHPERD plans to regroup and try again. There are movements all around our nation to make PE a core class. Idaho has a dream to see this movement come into fruition. We will be heard from again!

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