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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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We Did It, Mississippi!

Since the summer of 2012, Mississippi staff and volunteers have been working to emphasize the need for more CPR trained bystanders in our community. 

Through the collaborative efforts, staff and volunteers made an impact in our community, while laying a foundation for advocacy efforts.  Statewide efforts and events that highlighted  and raised awareness to this life-saving issue were: Go Healthy Challenge, High School athletic event Red Outs, Heart Walks, Heart Balls, Go Red for Women luncheon and a CPR training at the State Capitol.  In the fall of 2013, the Mississippi Gulf Coast became more involved.  D’Iberville High School decided they wanted to pilot a program to have their students trained.  Several volunteers shared their CPR stories to help further reinforce the need for CPR training in high schools, like Monica Whittle, who saved her husband's life by performing CPR on him, a skill she learned 30 years ago in middle school!

Flat Mollie display at the State Capitol

When the 2014 Mississippi Legislative Session started, Rep. Michael Evans from Louisville introduced House Bill 432, CPR in Schools.  The bill made its way through both the House and the Senate.  Throughout the process, You’re the Cure advocates sent emails, made phones calls, shared stories with lawmakers, and made social media pushes in order to gain support.  There was also a display in the Capitol Rotunda.  The ”Flat Mollie” display accompanied signs that asked, “If this was your loved one, would you know what to do?” 

We're thrilled that all of these efforts worked! 

On Monday, March 31, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed House Bill 432 into law ensuring all high school students learn CPR.  Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, the bill will add CPR education to physical education curriculum in the state’s high schools, resulting in thousands of CPR-trained students in our communities.  These students will be ready, willing and able to act whenever they witness an emergency at home or within the community and can potentially save lives every year.

Thank you to all Mississippi staff and volunteers who helped with this success!

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CPR Education is Coming to Mississippi Schools!

On March 31, 2014 Governor Phil Bryant signed House Bill 432 into law ensuring all high school students learn CPR.

Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, the bill will add CPR education to physical education curriculum in the state’s high schools, resulting in thousands of CPR-trained students in our communities. These students will be ready, willing and able to act whenever they witness an emergency at home or within the community and can potentially save lives every year.    

Thank you to all You're the Cure advocates who made this success possible!

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March 31 Deadline Approaching for CPR Education in Schools Bill

On Thursday, March 20 the House of Representatives voted 120-0 to concur with the Senate amendment to House Bill 432, CPR education in schools. Governor Bryant has until Monday, March 31 to sign the bill into law. 

Will you please call the Governor's office at 601-359-3150 and ask the Governor to sign House Bill 432?

Here is what you need to say:

Hello, my name is {YOUR NAME}.  As an advocate for the American Heart Association, I am calling to ask Governor Bryant to please sign House Bill 432, CPR education in schools,  into law. Having students learn basic CPR skills will put thousands of CPR trained lifesavers in our communities every year. Help us create the next generation of lifesavers. 

Once you make the call, please email us at gsa.advocacy@heart.org. Thanks in advance for your help!

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Mississippi Capitol Welcomes Flat Mollie

On Wednesday, February 26, the visitors and legislators of the Mississippi Capitol were caught doing a double take after walking by a special guest that day. 

Flat Mollie laid lifeless on the Capitol lobby floor while passersby paused a minute to reflect on the nearby sign, "If this was your loved one, would you know what to do?"  The message - correlating to the support of House Bill 432, CPR in Schools - was loud and clear to all without Flat Mollie saying a word...well that was not an option anyway.

The next day, the Senate Education Committee unanimously voted in favor of the CPR in Schools bill.    

Katherine Bryant, Government Relations Director for Mississippi, emphasized, "Seeing is believing.  If people SEE the need in a critical situation, they may or may not know what to do.  With the inclusion of this life-saving lesson in our Mississippi high school curriculum, our students can take this lesson with them for the rest of their lives."

The Clarion Ledger published this article in regards to the CPR in Schools bill; the article was written in light of the tragic death of a Jackson Public Schools student the week prior due to a heart condition.     

With 300,000 cardiac arrest calls made each year to EMS teams across the state, it's important our lawmakers see first-hand the simplicity and value of CPR.  Training our students makes sense if we want to prepare students for health emergencies.  They can learn how to recognize cases of sudden cardiac arrest and save lives.

House Bill 432, CPR in Schools, is currently awaiting a vote on the Senate floor.

For more pictures of Flat Mollie's visit to the capitol, be sure to visit the You're the Cure Mississippi Facebook pageYou never know where you might see Flat Mollie around Mississippi, so be CPR ready!

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Chloe Sumrall Saves a Life!

Chloe Sumrall, Mississippi

When Chloe Sumrall entered a restaurant in Jackson, MS last March, the senior high school student at St. Andrews Episcopal School was looking forward to enjoying a celebratory lunch after a long season as president of the Sub-Debutante committee.

Chloe heard a scream of terror from across the restaurant and responded immediately.  Seeing a man's body laid out on the floor, apparently non-responsive, Chloe said firmly to those attempting to help, “I am CPR certified, are you?”  When no one responded, she hurried to begin hands-on chest compressions.  For the next several minutes, Chloe and her mother worked to resuscitate the stranger.

A doctor who was also patronizing the restaurant told Chloe that she could stop, that there was no chance of this man's survival.  While family members and onlookers huddled in prayer, Chloe continued performing CPR until the paramedics arrived.  Even then, things looked grim. 

Compelled to know whether the man had survived, Chloe and her parents went to find his family at the hospital.  This complete stranger to Chloe had suffered Sudden Cardiac Death, a condition that in Mississippi has less than a 2% chance of survival.  Because of Chloe’s immediate action, this man joined the 2% of survivors that day! 

Today, Chloe is a freshman at the University of Mississippi and the survivor is enjoying life with his family.

To find out more about local area CPR classes, visit www.heart.org/CPR.

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Big Changes in Store for Food Labels

After more than two decades, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is proposing sweeping changes to the nutrition labels on packaged foods.

The proposals would require food manufacturers to list added sugars, nutrition counts for more-realistic portion sizes and total nutrition information for multiple servings of food within a single package.  The government also wants to require potassium and vitamin D to be listed.

The changes are being released on Thursday during a critical time in the U.S. A third of all adults in the nation are obese, increasing the risk for high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Another third of Americans are overweight.

“Eating healthy is a habit all Americans need to have and the FDA’s new nutrition labels will help put that goal within reach,” American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said. “By arming consumers with more knowledge about nutritional content, calories and serving sizes, the new labeling information proposed by the FDA takes an important step toward improving the health of all Americans.”

Despite the recent news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that obesity has declined by 43 percent for children ages 2 to 5, it has not changed significantly for adults or the larger pool of kids ages 2 to 19.

Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults. And obesity in children is causing a health problems that used to be seen only in adults, like high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.

Changes to nutrition labels will take time. The FDA will collect comments for 90 days on its proposed new rules from food manufacturers, the general public and nutrition and health advocates. It will consider clarifications or changes based on the comments, then give food manufacturers time to reprint their labels and replace existing inventory.

“These new labels will empower consumers with a valuable source of nutrition information, and the American Heart Association commends the FDA for proposing these changes,” Brown said.

Proposed changes include:

Added sugars: for the first time, added sugars will be on the nutrition facts panel. Previously, naturally-occurring and added sugars were combined into a single listing of “total sugars.” This will allow consumers to know how much sugar has been added by the manufacturer. The AHA recommends that women consume a maximum of 100 calories a day from added sugars, or 25 grams, and men consume 150 calories a day, or 37.5 grams.

“The addition of added sugars to the Nutrition Facts Panel is a giant step forward,” said Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., chair of the AHA’s nutrition committee and professor of nutrition and medicine at the University of Vermont in Burlington. “High intakes of added sugars are associated with many risk factors for heart disease including obesity, high blood pressure, inflammation and elevated triglyceride levels. A recent study demonstrated an association between high intakes of added sugars and death from cardiovascular disease. Consumers want to know how much sugar has been added during the processing or preparation of foods so they can make wise decisions about the foods they eat.”

Serving sizes: Adjusted for 17 categories of foods to better reflect what people are actually consuming. For example, ice cream will go from ½ cup to 1 cup; muffins and bagels will go from ½ to 1; and beverages will go from 8 ounces to 12 oz. This gives people a more realistic idea of what they’re actually consuming in a single sitting, so they can better monitor what they’re eating and make healthier choices.

Sodium: This will be adjusted slightly to reflect a 2,300 milligram daily value, which is the maximum amount per day recommended in the dietary guidelines for someone consuming a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet. The American Heart Association recommends that the ideal sodium consumption, especially for people trying to lower their blood pressure, is 1,500 mg. per day.  “There is strong scientific evidence that indicates lowering sodium reduction can result in significant reductions in blood pressure,” Brown said. ”Therefore, the association will continue to recommend sodium intake to be limited to 1,500 milligrams a day. We intend to work with the FDA, during this 90-day comment period and beyond if need be, to highlight the increased benefits from further sodium reductions and to advocate for stronger action.”

Package size: Like serving sizes, package sizes will be labeled more accurately. So a large muffin or bottle of soda will have nutrition information for the entire package.

Per serving and per package: If a package has 2-4 servings in it, the label will be required to show nutrition information per serving and per package. This helps make it clear when the package has multiple servings inside.

Calories bigger and bolder: Although the format of the label won’t change dramatically, calories and serving sizes will be emphasized with a bigger and bolder font. This may help people make healthier choices by knowing what they’re consuming.

Nutrient listings: The amount of potassium and vitamin D will now be required, calcium and iron will remain and vitamins A and C will be optional. When the nutrition label was last updated 20 years ago, health officials were more concerned about people getting enough of vitamins A and C, but attention now is on potassium and D.

Want to help inform friends & family about these changes?  Share this graphic on Facebook.





















For more information:

FDA announcement

AHA CEO Nancy Brown's Statement

Understanding food nutrition labels

American Heart Association Nutrition Center 

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CPR in Schools Bill Reaches Half Way Mark!

We are officially at the half way mark to creating the next generation of lifesavers in Mississippi!  Recently, House Bill 432, CPR in Schools, passed the House floor with a 121-0 vote.  The bill now heads to the Senate Education Committee chaired by Senator Gray Tollison from Oxford.  Alerts will be sent to You're the Cure advocates whose senators serve on the Senate Education Committee.  It's incredibly important that these senators hear from their constituents!

What does House Bill 432 do?

  • Adds CPR as an instructional component to the already required physical education class for high school students
  • Must be an American Heart Association or American Red Cross approved program
  • A teacher does not have to be a certified CPR trainer to administer a NON certification program such as Hands-Only CPR, but courses resulting in CPR certification MUST be taught by an authorized CPR/AED instructor
  • There must be a psychomotor skills component (use hands-on practice to support the cognitive learning)

We'll need your help to get the bill through the Senate.  Stay tuned for more You're the Cure alerts!  Together, we can ensure high school students are prepared to save lives using CPR.

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Surprise Move for Healthy Food Financing Initiatives Bill

In a surprise move, House Bill 1328, Health Food Financing Initiatives, was referred to the Senate Accountability, Efficiency and Transparency Committee.  There is a chance, because it was referred to this committee, that it will NOT be brought up.  Senator Nancy Collins from Tupelo chairs the committee and really needs to hear from people on how effective this initiative can be.  Alerts will be sent to You're the Cure advocates whose members serve on this committee. 

What would House Bill 1328 do?

  • Establish a program that provides grants and loans to healthy food retailers in areas that are deemed “food deserts”
  • This would be a private-public partnership to raise matching funds, market, implement, and evaluate the program
  • Can be used for new construction, expansion, upgrades, or renovation of grocery and convenient stores

Stay tuned for more You're the Cure alerts on how you can help.

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Forrest Williams, Mississippi

Forrest Williams Jackson, Mississippi

On January 27, I had the privilege to travel to Washington D.C., as an advocate for the American Heart Association to advocate for the Fit-Kids Act (S.1033/ H.R. 2178).  It was an experience of a lifetime and one that I will always be proud to have been a part of with other advocates from around the United States.  I learned of the alarming fact that almost 22% of Mississippi's children are obese; that is too many!   

I have been a Physical Education teacher and coach for 10+ years in several different states, including Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, and Mississippi.

Having more physical education in our children's school days interests me even further because I am a father of two sons, who are now active in PE classes at their school.  My sons are 3 and 6 years old and are fortunate enough to have  weekly PE classes, as well as multiple, daily playground time.  As I've grown to learn, not every elementary, middle and high school has a certified PE teacher.  Some schools rely on a general teacher to fill in the gap and 'occupy' the kids during that time period, which often times is not held accountable with vigorous exercise and activity.

However, some schools are fortunate enough to have a passionate PE teacher that will go the extra mile for the student, pun intended.  One school I had the priviledge to be on faculty for three years, had a PE teacher as I just described.  She came early to school and stayed late after the last bell to create and maintain a running club for the elementary and middle school students, not old enough to participate on the school track teams.  Several days a week they would walk, jog or run around the track to music blaring from the loudspeakers.  This made exercise and running fun for every participating student and kept them coming back for more.  At the end of the year, the students are individually recognized for how many miles they completed during the school year.  Several students end up with over a hundred miles by the end of the year!

At this stage of school, many students are involved in athletics and continue to receive plenty of activity and training, year-round.  Students not involved in athletics need more avenues to maintain an active lifestyle, even as they work activity classes around academic concerns.  However, the experiences I've shared are a great way to start young kids out on the right food and give them the opportunity to learn what it means to have an active lifestyle – for life!  I have been an athletics coach for 10+ years and have seen firsthand the positive impact that physical activity has on a student’s overall being, not only physically but mentally and emotionally.
 
I truly believe that if kids are in an ‘active’ environment and encouraged to be healthy kids, then they will remember how good it feels and want to be a healthy adult.  This pattern of thinking and motivation could possibly change generations if we simply offered more opportunities for physical activity throughout the school day.  Studies have shown that the more students are active, the less behavioral problems occur.  Fit Kids = Fit Adults which could potentially carry on from generation to generation within a family, therefore ending our obesity epidemic in Mississippi. 

Our children need the best start on a healthy life.

Written by Forrest Williams

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