American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Rethink Your Drink!

The American Heart Association is calling on companies and consumers to "Rethink Your Drink". 

Over the past 30 years, Americans have steadily consumed more and more added sugars in their diets. The primary source of added sugars in Americans’ diets has been identified as sugar-sweetened beverages (beverages that have added sugar) such as soda, sports drinks, sweetened waters and teas, energy drinks, and fruit drinks.

In recent years research has made the connection between sugar-sweetened beverages and the rising rates of obesity, overall healthcare costs and chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, blood pressure and diabetes. Decreasing the amount of added sugars in our diet cuts calories, which can result in weight control and improved heart health.

A 12-ounce can of regular soda contains about 130 calories and 8 teaspoons of sugar. The American Heart Association suggests consuming:

  • Water (plain)
  • Fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk; if flavored, no more than 130 calories/8 fl. oz.
  • 100% fruit juice (no more than 120 calories per 8 fl. oz. with no added sugars/sweeteners (excludes non-nutritive sweeteners):
    • No more than 120 calories per 8 fl. oz. (preferred portion size)
    • No more than 150 calories per 10 fl. oz.
    • No more than 180 calories per 12 fl. oz.
    • Other Beverages-No more than 10 calories per serving

Learn how to improve beverage offerings as well as meals and snacks by checking out the AHA Food & Beverage Guidelines and sharing these guidelines at your workplaces. Ask your company to review these guidelines and make your workplaces healthier!

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Georgia, Have You Taken the Sodium Pledge?

America’s relationship with salt is putting us at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. To better understand and limit your sodium intake, join the American Heart Association’s campaign called “I Love You Salt, But You’re Breaking My Heart.”  The site features a fun video, blog, sodium quiz, infographics, and links to lower-sodium recipes.  It’s time to break up with excess salt. 

Take the pledge to reduce your sodium intake now at


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Robin Kish, Georgia

Robin Kish Georgia

Today, I jump for YOU!

My name is Robin Kish, and I am the PE teacher at St. Benedict's Episcopal Day School in Smryna, GA. I yearly run a program known as Jump Rope for Heart. What started as a fun way to get my students engaged and moving, has now turned into the the heart of our school. 

We began with our first Jump Rope for Heart program five years ago. I wanted to bring a program that was fun, rewarding and actually had value, to our school. Being my first year, I tested every avenue of fundraising and worked to really connect with my students and the cause. Our small school of 110 students that year rose to the challenge. They raised over $12, 000, nickel and dollar at a time. I encouraged our school to get behind this cause and for the students to take ownership in  their own lives and they all loved how good it felt to help someone in need. This set the tone for the next few years. We have been moving with great momentum, enthusiasm and passion for this program ever since.  Every year, as our school grows, so does the passion and love for Jump Rope for Heart. Our motto was "Even smalls schools can make a big difference. With this continued growth and momentum, we were able to raise over $67,000 last year with our 300 students. " Now we are simply known as the "Little School that Could, and DID". 

Birthed out of all this fun and excitement was our St. Benedict's Jump Rope Demo Team. We are sponsored by the American Heart Association and travel all around promoting healthy hearts. Our free to school programs allow our students to be Heart Ambassadors and take ownership of educating and helping others. Kids sharing, helping and teaching one another! This year we kick off our 3rd year as a team and are excited to be traveling and performing all over Georgia. Maybe you have seen us at the Hawks Pre-game show? Perhaps you caught us at the GA Aquarium for the Atlanta's Healthiest Business Awards, or maybe Atlanta Heart Walk the last few years? Either way, my students work very hard to not only entertain, but also educate others and can be spotted all around town. 

Two summers ago, our team experience heart disease first hand. I had a phone call that one of my coaches had to rush to the ER with her dad. He was having a heart attack. Within the same time frame, I hear that one of my students is very distraught over the fact her grandfather is now in the ER due to emergency heart complications. One week later, I receive the call that my own mother is having pains and in the hospital. Sure enough, that night she suffered a heart attack. In one month, our lives were changed. I am pleased to report that all 3 are fully recovered and were honored at our Jump Rope for Heart event last year! We now, jump for them! 

This has given new meaning to our mission. We now jump for YOU, we now jump for OUR FAMILIES, we now jump for LIFE. To see an AHA sponsored documentary of our school and our Jump Rope for Heart Event, please click here. It may just get you up and JUMPING! 

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Teaching Gardens Plant Day at Oak View Elementary

On September 30, Oak View Elementary in Decatur, GA hosted their first American Heart Association’s (AHA) Teaching Garden Plant Day.

That morning, PTA volunteers, teachers, and volunteers from Aetna, our Teaching Gardens sponsor, gathered outside with students as the DJ kicked off the celebration with Pharell's song "Happy."

Oak View Elementary Principal, Rodney Mallory, welcomed the group and spoke about the exciting work ahead. Praising students for their enthusiasm and reminding them to not only work hard in their garden but to be brave enough to try healthy fruits and vegetables like the ones they will grow.

AHA Metro Atlanta VP, Michael Privette, gave rousing remarks, congratulating the school on their beautiful garden and thanking Aetna, our generous sponsor, for providing students and families of Oak View Elementary with this wonderful opportunity. He highlighted how Teaching Gardens can combat the health threat that childhood obesity presents. He also presented gifts to Kim Ellison, Teaching Garden School Champion and Master Gardner, and her associate Frances Bishop for their spectacular efforts.

Joining over 270+ Teaching Gardens nationwide, Pre K – 5th grade students at Oak View Elementary will learn how to plant seeds, nurture growing plants, harvest produce and ultimately understand the value of good eating habits. Garden-themed lessons will teach nutrition, math, science and other subjects all while students have fun in the fresh air and work with their hands.

With one third of U.S. children being classified as overweight or obese, the AHA is fighting this unhealthy trend by giving children access to healthy fruits and vegetables and instilling a lifetime appreciation for healthy foods. The Teaching Gardens is just one excellent way the AHA is working hard to help kids live heart-healthy lives.  

For pictures and videos from Plant Day at Oak View Elementary, please visit the American Heart Association's Metro Atlanta Facebook page. Together, we can dramatically change the way America thinks about and consumes food. 

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Georgia State Advocacy Subcommittee

We're excited to announce that Brad Alexander and Ann Mintz will chair the 2014-2015 Georgia State Advocacy Committee. The committee is responsible for establishing public policy priorities and participating in grassroots and lobbying activities,  in an effort to advance policies that improve cardiovascular health and reduce deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke in Georgia.

This year, the committee is rounded out by a diverse group of experienced and passionate volunteers:

  • Kimberly Goodloe is a brave and vocal survivor who shares her story at health fairs, to the state legislature, and on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC as an American Heart Association ambassador.

  • Doug Joiner has worked with youth and the childhood obesity epidemic for many years, most recently in helping children find safe routes to school in local communities.

  • Rhonda Briggins serves as the Senior Directors of External Affairs for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority where she oversees the Office of Government Affairs and Office of Community Relations on a federal, state and local level.

  • Uriel Casteneda, M.D. is a pediatric resident at Emory University/Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He has also studied at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Casteneda is a member of the Latino Medical Student Association.

  • Veronca Toscano de Leger is an advisor for the Advisory Council to the Institute for Mexicans Abroad and has served as an interpreter for the Douglasville, Georgia Public Defenders office.

  • Lisa Wilson is a school nurse in Savannah, Georgia and has been a CPR instructor for many years. In January of 2013, Lisa’s 21 year-year-old son Cory collapsed during a college class. No AEDs were in the building, and no one administered CPR. Cory was rushed to a local hospital, but passed away from Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

  • Cynthia Arnsdorff is a survivor and active writer and blogger about cardiovascular health and the risks associated with autoimmune disease.

 We invite you to follow You're the Cure Georgia on Facebook and Twitter for the latest information.

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Meet Our Georgia Advocacy Subcommittee Leaders

We're thrilled to announce that the 2014 – 2015 Advocacy Subcommittee will be led by veteran government affairs professionals Brad Alexander and Ann Mintz.

Brad Alexander, also the incoming 2015 Chair of the Metro Atlanta Advisory Board, has more than 20 years of work in the public policy field. He currently leads the McGuire Woods Consulting team in Georgia and serves as the Senior Vice President of State Government Relations. Previously a longtime partner with Georgia360 Public Affairs, Brad also served as the former chief of staff to Georgia Lt. Governor and Senate President Casey Cagle, press secretary for a U.S. House member.

Ann Mintz, M.P.A. brings a wealth of government affairs, community relations, research, and communications experience and currently serves as the Public Policy Director for the United Way, Greater Atlanta. Ann ran her own government affairs consulting group for many years, served in the Governor’s office, and is the former Legislative Director of the Association of County Commissioners in Georgia. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Georgia Professional Lobbyists Association, and Junior League of Atlanta. Ann graduated from the Atlanta Regional Commission Leadership Institute, Class of 2012.

The American Heart Association looks forward to announcing its 2015 state public policy agenda. Stay tuned and be part of making cardiovascular health a priority in Georgia!

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Which Snacks are Smart Snacks?

New U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines are ensuring that healthy snacks are offered in school stores, vending machines and outside of the school lunch line. But those guidelines only apply until 30 minutes after the last school bell rings. After that, schools can sell snacks that are high in salt, fat, sugar and calories.

To highlight the differences in snack options, the Georgia advocacy team showcased two snack options at the Sept. 20th Atlanta Heart Walk. Passersby couldn’t help but check out two large baskets of snack food at the You’re the Cure table. One basket contained processed foods and sugary drinks, while another was filled with popped chips, fruit, pretzels and water. Visitors voted for which basket they thought should be sold in schools; adults voted with red tickets and kids with blue tickets. The healthy snack basket won 3-1 over the unhealthy basket with most kids choosing junk food as suspected. Many kids had no idea that certain foods were unhealthy, that too much salt and sugar can make your heart sick; and more than a few adults admitted they were unaware the healthy options were actually healthy.

The other popular draw to the You’re the Cure table was the petition to raise the cigarette tax by $1. Right now, Georgia has the third lowest tobacco tax in the nation at 37 cents a pack. People lined up in three lines – each 10 deep – to sign the petition. Many folks were passionate about the issue because of a relative who smokes. This petition will be incredibly effective when we share with legislators how many constituents support raising Georgia’s tobacco tax closer to the national average.

True advocacy occurred that day at the Heart Walk. A total of 105 folks joined You’re the Cure, with 63 people signing the tobacco tax petition. The Georgia advocacy team plans to replicate this effort at the Oct. 25th NW Georgia Heart Walk.

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CVS Quits Tobacco

The first national pharmacy chain to stop selling tobacco said all 7,700 stores had halted sales by Wednesday — about a month earlier than planned — and announced a name change from CVS Caremark to CVS Health to reflect its commitment to health.

CVS announced its tobacco-free plan in February, saying the profits are not worth the larger cost in public health. Smoking is the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S., killing 443,000 Americans and costing the nation $193 billion in healthcare expenses and lost productivity each year.

CVS Health also announced Wednesday a new “comprehensive and uniquely personalized smoking cessation program” developed by national experts.


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A Puzzling August Recess

During the month of August, You're the Cure advocates across the country dropped by key congressional offices in support of strong school nutrition standards that are part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. 

Carlin Breinig delivers our puzzled message to Rep. Tom Price's office.

Advocates shared a clear message with members: healthy school meals "fit" into a successful school day for kids and we're "puzzled" by efforts to weaken or delay the important nutrition standards. To illustrate the message, advocates delivered four puzzle pieces that fit together to display a healthy school meal and one piece showing unhealthy food that doesn’t fit. Each puzzle piece contains a fact on the back.

Here in Georgiia, we'd like to thank You're the Cure advocates Kendra Small, Carlin Breinig, Cynthia Arnsdorff, Delores Horton and Lindsey Olexy Bryant for delivering the message to key members.

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Carlin Breinig, Georgia

Carlin Breinig, GA

Last month, Carlin participated in our fun August Recess activity and urged Rep. Tom Price to support the strong school nutrition standards that are part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.

In December 2010, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which gave the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the authority to update national nutrition standards for school meals and for other foods sold in schools throughout the school day. School meals were updated to include more whole grains, fruits and vegetables and to limit sodium, saturated fat, and trans fats. The law also has had numerous other positive effects on school nutrition and health, such as strengthening local wellness policies and updating nutrition standards for foods sold on the school campus (outside of the meal program) throughout the day.

This issue of child nutrition is important to Carlin. “I was very happy to make the August drop off, to share the importance of healthy nutrition at school. I've been a personal chef for 16 years. When I first started my business, my customers were mostly busy people who needed help with meals. This has changed over the years. More recently, requests have been from people who are also busy but have been diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol and now have to change the way they eat."

I have been involved with Chefs Move to Schools since its inception and have worked to change school food to be more appealing while following the standards. I know that for some children, the meals at school could be the only meals they get during a day. So their meals need to be nutritious and delicious so they are consumed. 

Carlin says, "I support the American Health Association because of their educational programs and the proactive approach they take. I am very interested in the school nutrition standards because I believe change can start with young people."

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