American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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  • Meet other likeminded advocates
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Sara Beckwith

Sara Beckwith, District of Columbia

Why is advocacy work so important? To Sara Beckwith it is about passion, and because she “truly believes that we have a voice and it is imperative to use our voice to work on programs such as the Healthy Tots Act and the Workplace Wellness Act.” Sara has worked hard with You’re the Cure and the American Heart Association to be an advocate for heart healthy legislation because she has witnessed the benefits firsthand in the community.

Sara is also passionate about food. One of her favorite activities is trying different restaurants in the District with her husband and when she cooks she experiments with different recipes. Food is also an essential part of her career. She first became interested in improving heart health when she worked as a cardiopulmonary rehab dietician in North Carolina. This position allowed her to help patients recuperating from heart surgeries and teach them how to take care of their hearts by eating healthy.

For the last five years, Sara has worked as a dietician teaching low-income families in the District to make healthy choices. It is through these experiences that she has come to see the direct impacts of advocacy work on the health of families. She has worked hard to support the funding for tobacco cessation programs so that families in DC can receive the help that they need.

As a dietician, Sara has been able to council women about their high blood pressure and knows that many people do not understand the consequences of these health problems. These experiences have driven Sara’s passion to advocate for legislation that will impact the health of the community.

What Sara finds as the most satisfying about advocacy work is “being a part of the public policy process and having a voice” and to others out there sitting on the fence about advocating for healthier lives she would say “Never doubt the power of one voice, our personal stories, passion, and conviction have a tremendous impact on policy makers.”


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Amy Edmunds

Amy Edmunds, South Carolina

Opening doors has been the most rewarding aspect of my volunteer experience. Since experiencing ischemic stroke in 2002, I have been an actively engaged volunteer throughout the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate.

Undoubtedly, the first door to open was my own! It has been an amazing transition to evolve from volunteer to spokesperson. But You're the Cure's comprehensive advocacy training helped hone my message and presentation to enable me to comfortably address the Rally for Medical Research last year to urge Congress to restore National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. And, it was a treat to meet with AHA's CEO Nancy Brown and NIH's Executive Director Dr. Francis Collins!

Please, join me at hour 1, minute 15 to hear my message.

(Please visit the site to view this video)

For me, You're the Cure has afforded the opportunity to champion issues related to stroke among young adults from a local to national platform. Over the years, I have not only participated in numerous local Heart Walks, HeartBalls, and Go Red For Women events but also statewide lobby initiatives, national taskforces and Lobby Days. And, yes... even to the White House as a briefing attendee.??

So, go ahead and open the door to opportunity... for yourself as well as for those you love!

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Tell Us Who You Really Are!

Tailor your experience with us! Your profile on the You’re the Cure website is vital for us to convey our policy needs. Keeping our advocates informed and up-to-date on policy issues is the best way to guarantee that our advocacy partnership stays strong and when we need to make a move, we can reach you on the issues you are interested in.

When it comes to your personal advocate profile, we want to make sure you receive the information that you prefer and feel passionately about. It’s important that we know what policies most interest you.

CLICK HERE so we can make sure that you are presented with advocacy opportunities that truly speak to you.

It takes just a few moments to update your profile and interests, and those moments go a long way in ensuring that you hear the most current news and get action opportunities on issues that strike close to your heart.

As always, we thank you and appreciate you for what you have done, what you are doing now, and what you will do as a You’re the Cure advocate in the future.

Thank you for making a difference.


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Healthy Eating Just Got That Much Easier

Healthy eating in DC just got that much easier! DC Council has recently voted “Yes” on Workplace Wellness Act (B20-0049), which creates healthier working environments for government employees. Inspired by this current legislation, a local hospital is taking similar proactive steps to meet healthy nutrition standards.

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (MGUH) took the idea to heart by making healthy vending machine options a part of their everyday workplace. The MGUH Nursing Healthcare Advocacy and Legislative Council set a goal to ensure forty percent of vending machine products will meet healthy criteria. The program has been met with enthusiasm and since May the changes have been systematically implemented. The hospital has even tried to find different ways of promoting healthier options, such as, labeling healthier products with different labels and highlighting new changes in staff newsletters.

Colleen Dudley the Stroke Program Coordinator at MGUH and a member of the DC Stroke Collaborative stated, “I think the Workplace Wellness Act is a great stride in the right direction to improve health in DC.  Obesity is a major problem in the US and in the District.  Having more healthy options in our vending machines is a visible sign to our patients and visitors that MGUH is committed to wellness and encourages healthy living.”

The Workplace Wellness Act will be implemented in DC government buildings within the next year. This Act requires that all food provided by DC government (and 50 percent of vending machine items) must meet federally recognized health standards. This will better enable people to make healthy eating habits a part of their daily lives by allowing convenient food to also be healthy food. 

The American Heart Association supports the Workplace Wellness Act and creating healthier working environments.  Learn more about advocating with You’re the Cure and make a real difference by following this link:


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DC Advocacy Wins!



A BIG shout out to You’re the Cure advocates who supported important health legislation in Washington, DC this year. The final vote on the District’s 2015 budget on June 24th reminded volunteers why they advocate for health: it makes a difference!  With this legislation DC made key steps towards creating a healthier city through tobacco prevention and nutrition policies.

As part of its 2015 Budget package, DC Council approved three pieces of legislation that will help prevent tobacco use in the district:

  • The tax rate on “other tobacco Products” (OTP) was increased to the same rate as cigarettes. Taxing these products equally will discourage use, especially among youth, and will save lives.  
  • $2.75 million was allocated for tobacco prevention programs including the DC Quitline.
  • The previously enacted Smoking Restriction Act makes smoking in DC parks, playgrounds, and bus stops illegal. The new budget includes $185,000 for no-smoking signs in designated places to promote this law.

DC Council also approved important legislation to promote healthier nutrition and wellness in the District:

  • $3.3 million was budgeted for the implementation of the Healthy Tots Act. This establishes nutrition and physical activity standards for DC child development facilities and reimburses facilities for the additional cost of providing healthy foods.
  • The Workplace Wellness Act establishes a wellness policy for all DC government agencies and requires that all food and beverage served by DC government (and 50 percent of food/beverage in vending machines in DC government buildings) meet federal nutrition standards.

The approval of these bills is a big deal to the advocates who helped to move them forward, and they understand the impact for others. You’re the Cure advocate Sara Beckwith stated “It can be challenging to find time in our busy lives to be physically active. The Workplace Wellness Act of 2014 will provide excellent opportunities for DC government employees to increase physical activity as well as make healthy food choices during the work day.  It is very exciting to see DC Government working to achieve the American Heart Association's gold-level designation as a ‘Fit-Friendly’ workplace.”

Kudos also, to DC Council (pictured above), for their support of these significant policy advances.

The American Heart Association is a strong supporter of policies that improve wellness in Washington, DC. Learn more about advocating with You’re the Cure and make a real difference:


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One Million Milestone

Did you hear the big news?  We’ve reached an amazing milestone in our campaign to teach all students to be ‘CPR Smart’!  17 states now require CPR training as a graduation requirement, which adds up to over one million annual graduates who are prepared to save a life.  Congratulations to all of the You’re the Cure advocates and community partners who have spoken-up for training our next generation of life-savers.   

But with every advocacy celebration comes a new call to action.  33 states still need to pass legislation to make CPR a graduation requirement and you can help us get there!  Here are a couple simple things you can do right now to get the word out:

1) Watch Miss Teen International Haley Pontius share how a bad day can be turned into a day to remember when students know CPR.  And don’t forget to share this PSA on social media with the hashtag #CPRinSchools!

(Please visit the site to view this video)

2) Do you live in one of the 33 states that have not made CPR a graduation requirement yet?  Take our Be CPR Smart pledge to show your support and join the movement.  We’ll keep you updated on the progress being made in your state. 



We hope you’ll help keep the momentum going as we support many states working to pass this legislation into 2015.  Several states have already had success in securing funding for CPR training in schools, but now need to push for the legislature to pass the graduation requirement and in Illinois, the Governor recently signed legislation that requires schools to offer CPR & AED training to students. 

Bystander CPR can double or triple survival rates when given right away and with 424,000 people suffering out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) each year, this law is critical to helping save lives.  Thank you for being part of our movement to train the next generation of life-savers!

PS- Inspired to be CPR smart too?  Take 60 seconds to learn how to save a life with Hands-Only CPR.

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CPR Matters

Sometimes you just need a lifesaver. Quickly. The American Heart Association is creating a generation of lifesavers by making sure students learn CPR before they graduate from high school.  The goal is to teach lifesaving CPR skills to as many teens and young adults as possible in every state to help keep our communities safer.  Having a new generation of lifesavers will benefit everyone.  We have heard many stories about emergency situations where bystanders do not know what to do, but a CPR-trained person is the one to remain calm and save a person’s life.

The need is dire. Nearly 424,000 people have cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year, and only 10.4% survive, often because they don’t receive timely CPR. Given right away, CPR doubles or triples survival rates. Teaching students CPR could save thousands of lives by filling our communities with those trained to give sudden cardiac arrest victims the immediate help they need to survive until EMTs arrive. Almost 90 percent of people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital die, most likely because they don’t get CPR treatment within the first few precious minutes.

Sudden cardiac arrest can happen any place, at any time. If you suffer sudden cardiac arrest, your best chance at survival is receiving bystander CPR until EMTs arrive.  Teaching students CPR before they graduate puts thousands of qualified lifesavers on our streets every year.

In less than 30-minutes, students can learn the skills they need to help save someone’s life with CPR. With a short time investment, today’s students will become tomorrow’s lifesavers. Everyone benefits from having more lifesavers in our community.

Here in The American Heart Association’s Mid-Atlantic Affiliate, You’re the Cure advocates have helped us make great progress on this goal, by telling their legislators all students should be trained in CPR before they graduate:

DC:  We’re working on it… DC City Council is looking at establishing emergency medical response plans and training in DC schools.  AHA, through You’re the Cure, is working with the committee to include student training requirements for graduation. CPR training in DC schools would prepare roughly 3500 students annually to save a life. If you live in DC, watch your inbox for action opportunities to support this effort as it unfolds.

MD:  We did that!  Breanna’s Bill passed just this year and will soon become a reality for MD students. If you live in MD, take a moment to Thank Your Legislators for this big win.  Because of CPR training in MD schools, there will be over 58,000 new lifesavers in MD communities every year.

NC:  We did that!  We passed HB 837 in 2012 and its implementation is well under way.  Because of CPR training in NC schools, there will be close to 87,000 new lifesavers in NC communities every year.

SC:  The SC General Assembly adjourned without passing CPR in Schools, but we will introduce next year.  When we get this bill passed there will be over 39,000 new lifesavers in SC communities every year.

VA:  We did that!  Gwyneth’s Law passed just last year and is in implementation stages now. Because of CPR training in VA schools, there will be over 79,500 new lifesavers in VA communities every year.

Thanks to You’re the Cure advocate Karen Wiggins, LPN, CHWC, for developing this blog post!


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Alarming Needs Addressed at Tobacco Control Legislative Day

April 30th was an important day for tobacco control in DC. Approximately fifteen advocates from the DC community met at the Wilson Building to advocate for an alarming health problem that affects all DC residents. Advocates personally impacted by the effects of tobacco met with the staff of Councilmembers David Catania, Mary Cheh, Jack Evans, and Tommy Wells to express the critical need for increased funding for tobacco control programs. Advocates were even able to personally talk to Councilmember David Grosso, a member of the Health Committee.

 According to the American Lung Association, if DC were graded, it would receive an "F" for its efforts to support tobacco prevention and cessation programs. In fact, for the past two years DC has only contributed $495,000 to tobacco programs which is less than 5% of the $10.7 million suggested by the CDC. If more funding were available, it would support programs helping people quit tobacco (such as the DC Quitline), preventing youth tobacco use, marketing against tobacco use, and enforcing tobacco laws. These programs are essential to the health of DC residents, yet Council has neglected to support them.

The You’re the Cure advocates who participated in Tobacco Control Legislative Day are instrumental in gaining support of the Councilmembers that vote on the tobacco and other AHA priority issues. According to one participating YTC advocate, Charles Debnam, “We must continue to work every day to make tobacco cessation, prevention and programs a priority in this city.  Having a Tobacco Control Legislative Day is an effective way for the members of the DC Tobacco Free Coalition to meet with city legislators to obtain continued support for tobacco cessation and prevention funding for the District of Columbia.  I hope we have many more."

Despite the passionate work of advocates, DC Council’s Committee on Health failed to invest in tobacco programs in their 2015 budget, approved on May 14.

The American Heart Association strongly supports full funding for tobacco programs to help support residents quit tobacco use. YTC members can show support for tobacco control and encourage Councilmembers to protect the health of DC residents by taking action at:

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Take Control of Your Health

Did you know high blood pressure has also been called the “silent killer”? That’s because its symptoms are not always obvious, making the need for regular check-ups important.  As we recognize High Blood Pressure Awareness Month, here are the facts:

• High blood pressure (aka: hypertension) is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.

• It’s the leading risk factor of women’s deaths in the U.S., and the second leading risk factor for death for men.

• One-third of American adults have high blood pressure. And 90 percent of American adults are expected to develop high blood pressure over their lifetimes.

• More than 40 percent of non-Hispanic black adults have high blood pressure. Not only is high blood pressure more prevalent in blacks than whites, but it also develops earlier in life.
• Despite popular belief, teens, children and even babies can have high blood pressure. As with adults, early diagnosis and treatment can reduce or prevent the harmful consequences of this disease.

Now that you know the facts, what can you do to take control? The answer is a “lifestyle prescription” that can prevent and manage high blood pressure. A healthy lifestyle includes exercise, stress management, and eating a healthy diet, especially by reducing the sodium you eat. To learn more about taking control of you blood pressure, be sure to visit our online toolkit!

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Can You Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T.?


Tick-tock, tick-tock.  Every minute counts.  Every 40 seconds someone in the US has a stroke. Timely response saves lives and is critical to help those affected not only survive but thrive as well.

Approximately 700,000 Americans have a new or recurrent stroke each year, and stroke remains the third leading cause of death in the United States. Stroke also remains a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States.  

With a possible stroke it is imperative that action is taken FAST.  If you notice Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, it’s Time to call 911, F.A.S.T.

You’re the Cure advocates have worked hard to put policies in place to help people survive a stroke, like designation of qualified hospitals as Primary Stroke Centers (PSC).

Receiving treatment at a certified PSC can save lives.  At the PSC, CT scans of the brain, EKGs, chest X-rays and lab tests should be completed and results reviewed within 45 minutes of being ordered. Time is of the essence. TPA, a drug that breaks up clots that interrupt blood flow to the brain is the first line of defense.  PSC’s are required to keep this drug on site. It can be safely administered with positive results up to 4.5 hours after someone first notices stroke symptoms.  That makes it critical to note the time of onset of symptoms, if possible.

Being proactive in regards to your health can start by taking a few minutes to call your local hospitals to see if they are on the list of PSC’s.  

You can help be the cure:  Learn about heart-health issues. Meet other like-minded advocates. Take action and be heard.  You have the power.  Spread the news with your family and friends. Utilize all your social media accounts. Network for stroke health! 

To find all this and more CLICK the PIC:






Blog post by You’re The Cure Advocate Karen Wiggins, LPN, CHWC

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