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Georgia Proposes New School Nutrition Rules

The Georgia State Board of Education’s proposal of 30 exemptions from the USDA’s nutrition guidelines for in-school, on-campus food fundraising is concerning.  In 2007, Georgia ranked 2nd in childhood obesity. Today, it ranks 17th. Continuing to thwart efforts to make food choices healthy for children only sets us up to reverse the improvements we’ve made.  Even with the USDA’s provision allowing states to choose the cap on food fundraisers per year, half have chosen zero, including NC, SC, MS, KY and AR.  Moreover, Alabama’s school nutrition standards are already stricter than the USDA’s guidelines. Georgia’s are among the nation’s weakest. The suggested changes allowing 30 fundraisers – each of which can last up to 3 days  -- ultimately allow our children to purchase unhealthy food without parental input for 90 days. That’s half the school year.  The Department of Education and Board of Education acknowledge the childhood obesity problem, but offer no solution.  The most obvious remedy is to model other Georgia schools that have increased their revenue through non-food fundraising and not depended on donuts and candy bars. We will continue to educate the Board of Education on the importance of healthy food selections in schools and profitable alternatives to food fundraising.

For more information about the American Heart Association's position, please visit and select the article entitled Nutrition in Schools.

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What Snacks Does Your School Serve?

For the 2014-2015 school year, only healthy snacks will be available during the school day at all Georgia public schools. These snacks will align with the updated USDA nutrition guidelines for children.  

Known as the "Smart Snacks" 
program, the purpose is to further promote healthy eating and help prevent childhood obesity. In 2007, Georgia ranked 2nd in the nation for overweight children. Now, that number has dropped to 17th according to the CDC. So we still have some work to do! 

If you're aware of the types of snacks available in the past at your local school, we'd like to hear from you. Were the snacks healthy? Did you feel comfortable with the snack choices your child made? Or are the snack offerings unhealthy and you're eager for change?

Are you willing to share your story? Click here to tell us today.


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Cory Wilson, Georgia

Cory Wilson, Georgia

Our Boy….

He was 6 pounds 15 ounces of sweet perfection.  He was all things good, and I loved him fiercely from the day he was born until the day he died on January 17th, 2013.  His death has ripped our lives into pieces and tested every ounce of our strength we have.  Our days blend into nights and into days again.  Things that once seemed so important are now barely noticed, and often it is a zombie-like existence moving through our lives without him.

It has been 537 days since our son, Cory Joseph Wilson, collapsed and died in his classroom at Georgia Southern University.  Though young, strong, and healthy, Cory was the victim of a fatal cardiac arrhythmia.  A proud brother of the Kappa Alpha Order of Fraternities, he loved spending time with his friends, his family and his Liv.  He embodied life, and his personality and his talent for telling stories drew people of all ages to his side.  Ironically the very people he touched have made the difference in our quest for survival since Cory’s death.

When Cory collapsed, there was no automated external defibrillator (AED) nearby.  Cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was started by a classmate, the one person in the class that did know CPR.  However CPR was delayed because Cory's symptoms were not immediately recognized as cardiac.  Though campus police were on the scene, they did not bring their AED inside.  It was not until EMS arrived that the opportunity for AED assistance was made available to Cory.  The delay in the chain of survival cost possible life saving minutes and CPR was simply not enough to sustain Cory’s life.  Doctors have said it is possible that the automated external defibrillator could have saved Cory’s life.  Possible.  That one word is like a kick in the gut, a breath stealing, heart wrenching, bile producing painful kick that threatens to rob us of any joy…but letting that happen would be a disservice to Cory.  His mantra to Live, Laugh, and Love drives us to hold on to those who hold us, lean on those beside us and move forward to hopefully make life better for someone else.

In Cory’s memory, many strides have been made to educate others about CPR and using AEDs.  Several businesses and churches have installed AEDs and implemented emergency plans, over 1500 people have received Hands Only CPR and AED education, $20,000 was raised by the Cory Joseph Wilson First Annual Memorial Baseball Tournament (this purchased AEDs for local recreational facilities and assisted with funding the Cory Joseph Wilson Memorial Scholarship at GSU), a second scholarship was established by the Delta Theta Chapter at GSU, and over 140 AEDS have now been placed on the Georgia Southern Campus, including one in the Kappa  Alpha house. Prior to Cory’s death, he had talked about getting his fraternity brothers to learn CPR.  When the AED was mounted in the house, the KA boys all received a brief in-service on Hands Only CPR and how to use their AED.  Finally, the school where I work, White Bluff Elementary, is the only school in our county to have every staff member trained in Hands Only CPR and AED usage.  We are also Chatham County’s only Project S.A.V.E. School. 

In October  Cory’s story was featured in Memorial’s THE BEAT physician newsletter and continues to be told locally and statewide.  Governor Deal recently had the opportunity to hear Cory’s story as well.  Cory’s crooked smile has radiated from computer screens, newspaper articles and even TV as his story has slowly moved from one place to another.  We have been deeply touched by the tremendous show of support shown to our family.  Though difficult without him here, our goal is to live life as Cory did, touching lives wherever we can and embracing every day.  As a family, Kenny, Morgan and I are moving forward with the message that CPR and AEDs can save lives.   We encourage you to learn CPR and how to use an AED.  You can learn the basics in minutes by watching an online video or learn the complete process by signing up for a local class or taking one online.  Whatever you decide, just do something.

It’s possible the person you save could be someone you love… and in this case, possible is a good thing.

- Written by Lisa Wilson, 7/8/14

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Teaching Gardens = Learning Laboratories for Kids

Studies show that when kids grow their own fruits and vegetables, they’re more likely to eat them. That’s the idea behind the American Heart Association Teaching Gardens.  While 1/3 of American children are classified as overweight or obese, AHA Teaching Gardens is fighting this unhealthy trend by giving children access to healthy fruits and vegetables and instilling a life time appreciation for healthy foods.

Aimed at first through fifth graders, we teach children how to plant seeds, nurture growing plants, harvest produce and ultimately understand the value of good eating habits. Garden-themed lessons teach nutrition, math, science and other subjects all while having fun in the fresh air and working with your hands.

Over 270 gardens are currently in use nationwide reaching and teaching thousands of students, with more gardens being added every day.  You can find an American Heart Association Teaching Garden in your area here or email to find how you can get involved.


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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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All Georgia Newborns to be Screened for Heart Defects

For not one, not two or three but for FOUR long years...

Together, we have worked to fight the No. 1 killer of infants with birth defects, critical congenital heart defects (CCHD).

We are thrilled to announce that on Tuesday, May 20, rules went into effect to ensure that ALL newborn babies in Georgia will be screened for congenital heart defects before they leave the hospital. Finally, protecting the heart health of Georgia's infants is mandatory!

Dr. Donald Page, Governor Elect of the Georgia Chapter of the American College of Cardiology, states that, “Simply put, a small clip is attached to the infant’s finger or toe and within minutes the test will measure the amount of oxygen in the blood and the baby’s pulse rate.  Low readings could indicate a birth defect and warrant immediate investigation with further testing.” Pulse Oximetry screening is quick, inexpensive and non-invasive and finally all of Georgia’s newborns will receive this the life-saving knowledge that this test will give, before they go home with their families.

Important note: The policy will officially take effect on July 1, 2014 and the Department of Health will conduct training for any hospitals in need.

Thank you for all the hard work and effort that has gone into making this policy change a reality!  Let’s continue to work towards protecting the heart health of our children and our communities.

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Aimee Jones, Georgia

Aimee Jones, Georgia

Aimee Jones was 20 weeks pregnant with identical twins when she went into pre-term labor. Put on restricted bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy, ultrasounds by a perinatologist were performed up to 2 times per week until twins Charlie and Blake arrived at just under 37 weeks. Their arrival was deemed premature and a visit to the NICU followed. Charlie’s vitals were normal, his coloring and appetite were fine, and he gained weight appropriately. But his nurse heard what she suspected might be a heart murmur and said "let's double check this."  She called in a cardiologist from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Sibley Heart Center to do further testing. Normally, Charlie would have been discharged and a follow up appointment would have been made.

A congenital heart defect (CHD) was never detected before birth despite the frequent sonograms. 

The cardiologist found a moderate hole in Charlie’s heart called a Ventricular Septal Defect. Further evaluation also revealed pulmonary valve stenosis. Sibley became the Jones’ second home with twice-weekly visits, follow ups, and open heart surgery when Charlie was just shy of 5 months of age. Surgery repaired the hole in his heart, his valves now work properly, and he is now a normal, active toddler with no ill-effects of his CHD.

Charlie and Blake turn 3 this July.

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Will Augusta, GA Go Smoke Free?

On May 6th, the Augusta – Richmond County Commissioners voted for a third time on whether to close all loopholes to the 2005 Georgia Smokefree Air Act of 2005.

The Georgia law allows for counties to implement their own restrictions. The ordinance will make all bars and restaurants, hotel and motel rooms, outdoor employment areas, common work areas and private clubs smoke free. The American Heart Association is committed to advocating for a safe, smoke free work environment for all employees. The Commission is discussing the ordinance in a work group and will bring it back for a vote on May 19, 2014.

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One Step Closer to Saving Georgia’s Babies!

While many of Georgia’s birthing centers routinely screen for Critical Congenital Heart Defects (CCHD), there has never been a uniform policy or data collection. Once the regulations take effect, Georgia will be able to capture how many CCHD babies are actually born in the state. That information will enable more research to help end CCHDs in all babies!  You can review the regulation here

If you would like to submit comments to the Department of Health, please mail them to:

Sidney R. Barrett, Jr.

General Counsel

Georgia Department of Public Health

2 Peachtree Street, NW, 15th Floor

Atlanta, GA 30303

We’re just one step away!

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It's a Wrap, Georgia!

The Georgia General Assembly got off to a slow start in 2014, but turned into a fast and furious frenzy during the last of its 40 legislative days.  When the gavel rung at midnight on March 20, legislators were left with a flurry of bills and amendments, many of which garnered strong media attention in this election year.  

Legislation that the American Heart Association prioritized included:

  • House Bill 772: drug testing for food stamp recipients that a caseworker deems “reasonable suspicion” for drug use. Test cost born by recipient.  May violate federal law as states are not permitted to impose stricter application guidelines. American Heart Association does not support.
  • House Bill 251: bans e-cigarette sales to minors and over the internet. Redefines e-cigarettes as “alternative nicotine products,” thus avoiding being taxed like tobacco. Unclear if they will circumvent the current indoor clean air act. American Heart Association supports the sales bans, but not the definition.
  • House Bill 990: shifts the power of Medicaid expansion from the Governor to the state legislature as an intentional additional barrier. American Heart Association does not support.
  • House Bill 707: was tacked onto another bill at the 11th hour and was watered down. Prohibits any state or local government employee from advocating for Medicaid expansion or the Affordable Care Act. Also shuts down UGA’s patient navigator program. American Heart Association does not support.

The Governor has 40 days to sign or veto bills that made it to his desk.

Now more than ever, it’s important to lend your voice to heart and stroke issues affecting Georgia.  Your efforts have Pulse Oximetry testing for all newborns within reach!  Plus, lawmakers are learning about access challenges to healthy, fresh food.  But we can’t be successful without a strong You’re the Cure network.   

Please click here to invite 4 friends, relatives, or co-workers to join You're the Cure and help you make Georgia a healthier heart state.  Let them know that being part of the cure is simple and truly makes a difference.

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