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Vermont Could Lead the Fight Against Obesity

After implementation of a sugary drink tax in Mexico, sales of unhealthy drinks have fallen while sales of healthier drinks have increased. That nation, one of the most obese in the world, saw the sugary drink tax as a way to begin to put a dent in obesity there. Just this week, Berkeley, CA voters passed a sugar sweetened beverage tax that will take effect in that city in January. And an SSB tax could be a great way to start to address the problem of obesity here in Vermont.

The American Heart Association, along with the Alliance for a Healthier Vermont, will be pursuing a 2 cent per ounce excise tax on sugar-added drinks in an effort to reduce consumption of these drinks and fund obesity prevention efforts. Already 25 Vermont organizations have signed on to our efforts.

As our newly-elected state leaders start making their plans for the upcoming session, let them know that the 60% of Vermont adults and 29% of Vermont kids who are overweight or obese and the $202 million Vermont spends each year on health care costs directly related to obesity, should make this a priority.

Funds from the tax could also be used to fund health care and healthy foods for low income Vermonters.

For someone that drinks a 12 oz. can of soda a day, the tax might be an extra $1.68 a week that they’d spend. But, it would be their choice. And, if that funding could help a low income parent provide their family with an extra quart of berries, pound of beets or bunch of salad greens a week while off-setting their out of pocket costs for health care, isn’t it worth it?

Click on the following link to urge Vermont legislators to take action: http://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/actioncenter.aspx

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Thankful for Volunteer Efforts

With the addition of 76 freshmen students from Champlain Valley Union High School, Williston teenager Tommy Watson has now trained nearly 1,500 people in hands-only CPR! Not bad for a youth who started out with a goal of training 100 people when we met two years ago.

You may recall Tommy helped the American Heart Association pass legislation requiring the instruction of hands-only CPR in Vermont schools. I’ve watched as Tommy traveled to Washington, DC and New York City to spread the word about the importance of CPR. I’ve seen him train young and old, teachers and students, scouts and state leaders, and my Dad.

You’d think I wouldn’t be surprised any more by his efforts. But, just recently, Tommy was awarded the 2014 ABC Summer of Service Youth Service Award. The award came with a $1,000 check. Tommy, being Tommy, donated it to the American Heart Association.

As we near Thanksgiving, I hold a fondness and immense gratitude for all of our volunteers. I can’t imagine a better mission or group of people to work with. And this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful my path crossed Tommy’s. Many lives are better for it.

Watch WVNY’s story about Tommy’s efforts here: http://www.mychamplainvalley.com/story/d/story/change-is-a-heartbeat-away/24096/xP95jeamgESKw6TgFK5gkw

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6 Lives Saved and Counting!

Congratulations to Dr. Marc Kutler and The Edge fitness facilities for yet another life saved!

Dr. Marc Kutler, an emergency department physician from Northwestern Medical Center, is a strong advocate for CPR and public access to defibrillation. He helped the AHA pass legislation two years ago requiring hands-only CPR and the use of an AED to be taught as part of comprehensive health education in Vermont schools.

And, if that wasn't enough, he also helped start and oversees an AED program at The Edge fitness centers in Essex and Williston. Thanks to this great program, Marc and The Edge had previously saved the lives of 5 cardiac arrest victims. And just this past week, they added one more life saved when a 69 year old woman collapsed from a cardiac arrest and they sprang to action.

Thanks to Marc's advocacy for a strong chain of survival at schools and businesses, lives are being saved!

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Find Who Cares Like You Do

You care about helping Americans live healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.  We know you care because you are a You’re the Cure Advocate, supporting our efforts to change policies that impact this.

But we desperately need more like you – people willing to take simple actions to help drive the messages to legislators.  We’re hoping you know a few you can inspire for us.  Here are a few easy things you could do:

  • Ask your friends and family to be active advocates – they probably care as much as you do, and many will have stories of their own that help them understand how critical our mission is to saving lives. Send them to www.yourethecure.org to join.
  • Forward our emails to your contacts and tell people how important this is to you.  Ask them to help.
  • Use the sharing buttons that appear on the webpage after you’ve taken action on each of our alerts to post to social media and engage your own following to be part of the solution.
  • Know a small (or larger) group you could present to, to invite their participation?  This could be a huge help!  Faith groups, community groups, social clubs, and parents groups are all good places to start. We have tools and materials to make it easy, and you earn credit as an advocate for doing a ‘recruitment event’ for us.  It can be as informal as you like, and we can help prepare you.  Call or email any AHA Advocate Contact in your state to get connected with staff who can help.
  • Hold a House Party to introduce our mission to friends and family, or any group you’re part of, and get them on board.  It’s easy and fun, and a very meaningful way to make sure your own people are part of the network.  See all the scoop on how here
  • Know a company, organization, church, or alliance whose members or employees might care?  All they’d have to do is circulate a quick invitation from us to be part of the cure.  If you have a contact there and can open the door for us to tailor an invitation and get it out to their people, that could be a big recruitment win! 

You can contact us for guidance on any of these, and do be sure to tell us when you’re doing something to help recruit. (Here’s the link again to find AHA contacts in your state.)  It’s important we know how we’re growing our network, and we want to be sure your record reflects your work with us.

Right now we’re working hard to position ourselves for a successful policy session, and need to be sure our advocate network is strong and ready.  Every single voice is needed to make sure the messages are heard by our lawmakers.

Help us find other people who care like you do. It could mean all the difference when the time comes and we have to pull out the stops to help a bill pass.

 

 

<photo credit to Eneas on Flickr>  

 

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Do You Live in a HEART Safe Community?

Its Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month. Do you know if your community is HEART safe?

The HEART Safe program recognizes communities that meet specific criteria that help increase the potential for saving the lives of individuals who have sudden cardiac arrest through the use of CPR and increased public access to defibrillation.

 Congratulations to Stowe, Bennington and St. Johnsbury for already achieving this distinction.  Designation as a HEART Safe Community represents a coordinated effort by emergency medical services, fire departments, and police departments, as well as other various town departments, schools, and businesses that have committed to saving lives.

Talk to your local rescue and town officials and you can email the Vermont Office of Emergency Medical Services at mike.leyden@state.vt.us for more information. By becoming a HEART Safe Community, your town officials, and citizens will be recognized for taking the time, and making the effort to become an invaluable link in the chain of survival.

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Medical Students Turned Advocates

Peter Evans, Christina Cahill and Lana Khuong know there is more than one way to save a life. They’ve organized CPR trainings, worked on tobacco cessation counseling protocols, coordinated cardiovascular research and fundraisers, and helped create healthy living lessons for adolescents.

They’re studying to become physicians at the University of Vermont’s Medical School, but they know that passing policy can also save lives. Lana said she was eager to become a part of a movement in which the government and civilians join to promote the well-being for all. So, all three have joined the American Heart Association’s Advocacy Committee.  

And we’re glad they did. Just recently, they talked about the dangers of sugary drinks and urged volunteers at the Vermont Heart Walk to sign petitions to Vermont legislators to pass legislation improving the availability and pricing of healthy food. They had a great time doing it and are eager to help us spread the word. Go team advocacy!

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Greece Odyssey Academy Keeps the Beat!

Congratulations to Greece Odyssey Academy!  Recently the Rochester area school teamed up with the American Heart and Upstate NY Life Support to provide hands-only CPR training to all students in grades 6-12 and any interested staff members.   As a result, over 1000 people are now trained to be lifesavers!

It all started thanks to the work of Rebecca and Mark Knowles.  To look at their son, Cameron, you wouldn’t know the Greece Odyssey Academy eighth- grader has a heart condition. His own family was unaware until he suffered a pediatric cardiac arrest six years ago. Cameron’s life was saved by his fast-acting parents, who administered CPR until first responders arrived. Since then, Rebecca and Mark have been committed to increasing awareness and prevention of sudden cardiac arrests. 

Greece Odyssey trained all of their students in PE class – in just a matter of days.  Can you imagine how many lifesavers we could have if everyone followed their lead?

Do you know of a school district that is ready to teach CPR to their students?   To learn more about CPR in Schools and the status of the state legislation, contact Julianne.hart@heart.org

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What's Happening in 2015?

Recently the North Carolina Advocacy Coordinating Committee had a teleconference to finalize the 2015 Public Policy Agenda for North Carolina. The committee is excited to announce the priorities for the upcoming year and to see what all we can accomplish in a new exciting legislative session! Below you will find the approved 2015 Public Policy Agenda, we hope that the issues we are focusing on will be as exciting for you as they are to us and that you are looking forward to all the great things that are in store for the upcoming year!

 

The American Heart Association / American Stroke Association supports and advocates for public policies that will help improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths by coronary heart disease and stroke by 20 percent by 2020.

State Policy Priorities and Goals

  • Increase availability of healthy foods (including fruits, vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, and lean meats/seafood) in North Carolina:
    • Secure public funding to create a Healthy Corner Store initiative that increases the amount of healthy food offered in existing corner stores in low and moderate income communities.
    • Secure public funding to create a Healthy Food Financing initiative to increase the number of healthy food retail outlets in underserved communities.
  • Close the Coverage Gap in North Carolina to assure access to health care for adults earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level.
  • Support the adoption of coverage for all evidence-based, cardiovascular-related United States Prevention Services Task Force (USPSTF) A and B preventive services with no or minimal cost-sharing by NC Medicaid.
  • Tobacco Control – Support an increase North Carolina’s cigarette excise tax by $1.00 per pack and support an excise tax increase on other tobacco (non-cigarette) products to a tax rate equivalent with that of cigarettes.
  • Support codifying the Safe Routes to School program in NC.

Local Policy Priorities and Goals

  • Promote the adoption of citywide food and beverage vending and/or service standards consistent with AHA guidelines in the cities of Raleigh and Charlotte.
  • Support efforts in Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte to enact smoke-free policies to provide protection from indoor exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Promote daily physical activity in the Greater Raleigh and Charlotte communities by supporting policy efforts for active transportation, including bike and pedestrian pathways.

Have any questions about the 2015 NC Public Policy Agenda?  Email Betsy Vetter (betsy.vetter@heart.org) for more information!

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Dr. Jan Carney, Vermont

The American Heart Association recently released a new position paper on e-cigarettes and reconfirmed its desire for the Food and Drug Administration to take action soon to regulate these devices.  Vermonters like the Attorney General, the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont and Dr. Jan Carney, a member of the American Heart Association’s Vermont Board and Associate Dean for Public Health at UVM’s Medical School also think that’s a good idea. 

Dr. Carney recently talked about her concern that the use of e-cigarettes by high school students doubled in just one year.

Watch the whole interview here.  http://www.mychamplainvalley.com/story/the-dangers-of-e-cigs/d/story/PIPrZC8miEuUxV9blB8nBQ

The AHA worked with the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont and the Vermont Legislature this past session to ban the use of e-cigs in Vermont schools and daycares.

Join us in urging your legislators to also include restrictions on e-cigarettes in Vermont’s clean indoor air laws.

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Back to School Should Mean Exercise for Kids of All Ages

With our kids back to school, are they getting as much exercise as they did this summer?

This year, Vermont’s State Board of Education required Vermont schools to offer at least 30 minutes of physical activity to kids a day.  Ask your schools what they are doing. Physical activity can be easily integrated into the school day. Kids who are active do better academically. It’s a win-win. Smart and healthy!

Advocate for more physical education in school as well so your children can learn the life-long habit of being physically active.

And, remember that fun and exercise at school doesn’t have to be for just kids. Ask your schools if they are opening their doors to the community for recreational activities like open gyms and fitness centers for parents to use, or walking clubs for the elderly before or after school hours. Let me know what you find out. Tina.zuk@heart.org.

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