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Looking Back at the 2014 Idaho Legislative Session

Guest Blogger: Adrean Cavener, Idaho Government Relations Director

The 2014 Idaho Legislative Session was a very successful one for the American Heart Association.  We passed three major pieces of legislation that will build lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

First, the Legislature approved a rule that requires cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training for high school graduation.  This will ensure that thousands of students graduation our schools every year with the skills so they are ready, able, and willing to save a life.

Next, we worked with a large task force to pass Senate Bill 1239, Time Sensitive Emergencies legislation. This legislation sets up a system of care for heart attacks and strokes so that every patient gets to the right care in the right amount of time.

Lastly, the Millennium Fund Committee appropriated over $4 million for tobacco prevention and cessation in the state of Idaho, the most they have ever appropriated.  This means that tobacco users who want to quit will have the resources to do so and that more Idaho children never start.

It cannot be said enough, we could not do this work without our incredible volunteers, both those who have come with us to the Statehouse and those who have sent emails on our behalf.  Thank you for all your time and please let me know if you have any questions or comments at adrean.cavener@heart.org.

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Advocate Highlight: Idaho-AHPERD

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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A Heartfelt Thanks

Each year, we like to pause and give thanks during National Volunteer Week (April 6th-12th) for the amazing contributions of volunteers like you.  We know you have a choice when deciding which organization to dedicate your time and talents to and we’re honored you’ve chosen to contribute to the American Heart Association’s mission.  Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to meet many You’re the Cure advocates in person to say ‘thanks’, but since getting together isn’t always possible, I wanted to share this special video highlighting the progress you’ve made possible.

(Please visit the site to view this video) 

You’ll see we are making strides to create smoke-free communities across the country, develop the next generation of life-savers trained in CPR, and ensure all students have healthy meal choices in schools.  The effort you’ve made to contact your lawmakers, share your story, and spread the word through your social networks have led to those successes and more. In fact, in just the last eight months, You’re the Cure advocates have helped contacted local, state, and federal lawmakers more than 140,000 times and it’s these messages that can lead to policy wins.

So take a moment to pat yourself on the back and enjoy a job well done!  I look forward to continuing our efforts to pursue policy changes that will help build healthier communities and healthier lives for all Americans. We couldn’t do it without you – thanks!

- Clarissa

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Why CPR Training Matters to Me

Guest Blogger: Jami Fitzpatrick

June 1st, 2009 my son Cody’s life was saved, after he had stopped breathing, by a bystander that performed CPR.  The bystander learned CPR while she was in high school.  After this event I became a CPR Instructor and passionately shared the knowledge and advocacy of CPR awareness in my local community.  I began teaching CPR at local schools, churches, and daycares to both adults and children.  My son enjoys attending these classes and shares his story, driving home the importance of knowing the lifesaving skills of CPR.

Recently, we were privileged to join our local American Heart Association to be a part of Idaho AHA Lobby Day at the capitol.  My son and I were able to demonstrate the ease of Hands Only CPR to some of our Senators and House of Representatives.  We were also honored to share Cody’s story to show the importance of CPR education and asked our legislators to support the Department of Education Rule 08-02-03-1306 for CPR to be a requirement for high school graduation.  This was an amazing experience for both of us to share.  We had the most incredible time working with all the individuals from the American Heart Association, (especially our local group of ladies!), as well as the wonderful young advocates from high schools across Idaho.  I am truly grateful for this opportunity and look forward to working with AHA further to help spread the word on CPR in our community

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A Look Back at Idaho Youth Lobby Day 2014

On January 7th over 50 American Heart Association volunteers hit the Idaho Capitol Building for Idaho Youth Lobby Day.  That morning they received training on the importance of physical education and CPR as a high school graduation requirement.  We also trained them to become “lobbying ninjas,” learning how to talk to legislators, lobbying tactics and how to get a meeting when you don’t have one scheduled. 

I’m pleased to report that our students met with over 40 of the 105 Idaho legislators! Students met with both the Senate and House Education Committee Chairs, members of the Education Committee, and even some members of Chamber leadership. They also hosted a Legislators Breakfast for the lawmakers. 

One highlight of the day was when Jami Fitzpatrick and her 5th grade son Cody, who was saved by bystander CPR when he was 5-years old, taught attendees and legislators how to do Hands-Only CPR!  Overall it was a great day and we are looking forward to Idaho Lobby Day 2015.  Hope you can join us!

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Advocate Spotlight: Colter's Story

Bobbie Cross

Heart disease has forever changed our family.  My son, Colter, was born on November 17, 2011. I had a healthy and normal pregnancy. We were able to take him home 24 hours after, he passed all of the required health screenings and passed as a seemingly healthy baby boy. Unfortunately, the hospital neglected to do one very important test called the pulse oximetry screening.

3 days later we took him to his pediatrician for his first checkup. It was there we found out our beautiful new baby boy had a birth defect. The doctor heard a very loud heart murmur and chose to check his oxygen levels, they were bad. . He immediately made arrangements for us to see a cardiologist. 5 hours later we received the most terrifying news that our perfect angel was broken inside; he was diagnosed with a severe Critical Congenital Heart Defect called Truncus Arteriosus. Our son's heart defect was undetected until he was 4 days old and without surgery; he would die.

We went to Seattle Children’s that night and tried to prepare ourselves for the unknown. Colter was 11 days old when he had his first open heart surgery. After a long, complicated surgery; we were told they didn't know if he would make it through the night. His situation wasn't a day by day or hour to hour he was surviving minute by minute. He was in some pretty rough shape. 8 days later they were able to get him off of life support known as ECMO only to face more challenges.  Colter had contracted pneumonia in his right lung that was extremely resistant to antibiotics making it very difficult to manage.

December 17th Colter crashed, every medical intervention they tried wasn't working, and the infection was ravaging his tiny body.  They planned to remove Colter's right lung, but as a last minute decision chose to put him back onto ECMO. The Dr. told us our son was deteriorating, and this was their last ditch effort to save his life. The doctor told us there was a slim chance Colter would survive and he suggested us to say goodbye to our son. We said our goodbyes and waited.

1 hour later they came out smiling, no interventions were needed, by the grace of god he started improving little by little, minute by minute. It was a miracle even in the medical world! 10 days later we were discharged from the CICU and remained in the hospital for an additional month for antibiotic treatment.

We took home Colter with fulltime oxygen, a feeding tube, 24/7 continuous feeds, meds literally around the clock, less than 25% heart function and a lot of doubtful doctors. We were faced with a challenging first year, it was trying and exhausting. As a mother these were all challenges I welcomed. The Seattle team was sure Colter would be back, and believed the odds of him keeping his own heart were grim. Colter survived, and with every hurdle life threw his way he leaped it with grace. Colter is alive and well today, matter of fact if you didn't know his story you'd probably think of him as a normal kid.

Being a heart mom you deal with a variety of emotions but the 2 most prevalent would be fear and joy. Fear of the future, fear of the unknown, fear of his next surgery, and fear of death. But there's one thing that being a heart mom has taught me that is that our joys are greater than any fear of the future. When I think about surgery day that was the 1st time we got to see what Colter was made of.

At only 11 days old he showed us his tremendous amount of strength and his will and desire to live. I looked up the word, persevere it's defined as follows: To continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success. Despite Colter's dips and turns for the worst he always seemed to persevere. His tenacity to live was something that was undeniable from the beginning.

After each scare it was always followed by great JOY.

I feel so honored to be able to share Colter's story, I hope to continue to raise awareness about the importance of the pulse ox screening. This needs to be done on all newborns before they are discharged to go home. We were very lucky that this test was taken as it saved Colter's life. I think all new mothers and fathers should be educated about what a simple, non-invasive and CHEAP test this is. I feel it's so important that we remember the statistics, 1 in every 100 birth a baby is born with some form of heart defect . Heart disease is the #1 killer of our babies in the United States. And lastly a child is 2x more likely to die from heart disease than ALL forms of childhood cancer combined. So we need to be taking advantage of our resources and technology Pulse Ox Screening is a no brainer! It saves lives, my son is proof of it.

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Introducing Kami Sutton

Guest Blogger: Kami Sutton, Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator, Western States Affiliate

Hi there YTC Advocates! I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself, my name is Kami Sutton and I am the new Grassroots Coordinator for the Western States Affiliate of the American Heart Association. As someone living with a congenital heart defect, I have been a longtime Heart Walk team captain and volunteer here in Seattle and after I graduated from the University of Washington (Go Huskies!) I knew I wanted to make a career of giving back to an organization that has made me who I am today. It is because of the research and medical advancements that have been made by the American Heart Association to repair congenital defects, I am here today. I have spent the past year as the Office Coordinator here in the Seattle office working on office operations, finance and community outreach and I am so excited to be joining the Advocacy team!

After attending my first Lobby Day last January, I knew this is the direction I wanted to take my career. I was given the opportunity to share my story with my legislators and share my passion for this organization and that was all I needed to be hooked on Advocacy.

I always knew I wanted a job that meant something, where I could help make a difference. I really feel that is what the opportunity to work with the Advocacy department has given me. With the help of all of our amazing YTC Advocates, volunteers, board members and my fellow staff members, we are helping make the United States a healthier place to live, one city, county, and state at a time! Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions about our organization, the grassroots advocacy department and of course the You’re The Cure site! Thank you so much for sharing your passion with us! I cannot wait to work with you on our future advocacy adventures!

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Learn & Share Your Post-Stroke Tips

After a stroke, even the simplest tasks can be very challenging.  Survivors often face limb weakness, numbness or paralysis, communication challenges, and difficulty with their vision.  However, we know stroke survivors and caregivers across the country are persevering and discovering new, creative ways to carry out the daily tasks they need to.  Through their recovery, they find a 'new normal' and we want to help share these helpful tips far and wide. 

That's why the American Stroke Association created a volunteer-powered library- Tips for Daily Living- to gather ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!  For example, do you have to put up a ponytail with one hand?  Watch Karen’s video!

(Please visit the site to view this video)

Help us grow the library!  Do you have something to share that could help stroke survivors?  Share your tips by completing the online submission form at www.StrokeAssociation.org/tips.  You’ll get a FREE AHA/ASA recipe book and Stroke Solidarity String for participating!

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Ready for the New Year?

As you know, the AHA and ASA aims to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% while reducing the deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20% by 2020.  Thanks to advocates like you, we’ve made a tremendous progress towards our goals, but we still have a lot of work to do!  Are you excited to continue to save lives this 2014?

When’s the last time you visited yourethecure.org?  If you haven’t done so already, please take a moment to stop by and update the interests in your You’re the Cure profile to ensure that you receive timely alerts on topics that mean the most to you. 

When’s the last time you took action? Please take a moment to visit our action center to refresh yourself on recent legislative updates.  Your voice makes a difference! 

How has heart disease or stroke impacted your life?  Please share your story with us today by clicking here.  Our network is made of amazing individuals and we hope you take the opportunity to share your story so that the network can get to know you. 

Thank you for being a You’re the Cure Advocate and standing up for a heart-healthy future for yourself and your loved ones. Together, we’re making a difference to save lives!   

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Happy Holidays from Your Advocacy Team!

Thank you for partnering with us to promote heart and brain health in 2013.  Because of you we’re increasing opportunities for our children to be physically active, improving nutrition standards, creating stroke systems of care, and finding better outcomes for heart patients.  We’re excited to continue the momentum in 2014 and wish you and yours a wonderful Holiday Season!  

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