American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Healthy Corner Stores, Healthy Communities, Healthy People!

In some communities in New Jersey, it is easier to find grape soda than an actual grape! In areas that lack easy access to grocery stores, people go to corner stores and other small retailers to buy the items they need to feed their families. Unfortunately, many small business owner face challenges in offering healthy staples like whole grain breads, low fat milk and fresh produce. The American Heart Association is hoping to change that!

We are working with our partners at The Food Trust and New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids to form the New Jersey Healthy Corner Stores Initiative. This initiative will bring in business owners, public health officials and economic development professionals to study the problem and offer solutions. There have been several small, local Healthy Corner Store efforts in various areas of the state and we are looking to expand the success of those programs throughout New Jersey.

Every family in New Jersey deserves access to healthy foods. I will be attending all the Fall Heart Walks in October. If you are there, please feel free to stop by the “You’re the Cure” table to say hi and learn more about this effort. 

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NJ Celebrates New School Year with New CPR Training Law!

Students throughout the Garden State are heading back to school this month. Those who are starting high school will be learning an important lesson before graduation-how to perform CPR during an emergency!

On August 20, Lt. Governor Kimberly Guadagno signed a bill that will ensure that students entering 9th grade this fall and after will receive hands-on CPR training as part of the health curriculum. Laurie Heavener, American Heart Association volunteer and sudden cardiac arrest survivor, was invited to tell her story at the bill signing. Moments after collapsing on the street while waiting to pick up her daughter, she received CPR from a high school sophomore who learned the lifesaving skill at school. If it had not been for this student, she may not be alive today.

With the signing of this bill, New Jersey becomes the 19th state to require CPR training for high school students. It is estimated that as a result, the Garden State will be training 90,000 new lifesavers earch year.

The American Heart Association thanks Lt. Governor Guadagno, bill sponsors Senator Diane Allen and Assemblyman Angel Fuentes, the numerous co-sponsors of the bill and all the legisators who voted in favor of making this bill a reality. Because of their support and action, New Jersey is truly creating a generation of lifesavers!

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What is Pediatric Cardiomyopathy?

Did you know that one in every 100,000 children in the U.S. under the age of 18 is diagnosed with a diseased state of the heart known as cardiomyopathy?  While it is a relatively rare condition in kids, it poses serious health risks, making early diagnosis important.  As the heart weakens due to abnormities of the muscle fibers, it loses the ability to pump blood effectively and heart failure or irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias or dysrhythmia) may occur.

That’s why we’re proud to team up with the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation this month- Pediatric Cardiomyopathy Awareness Month- to make more parents aware of this condition (signs and symptoms) and to spread the word about the policy changes we can all support to protect our youngest hearts.
As a You’re the Cure advocate, you know how important medical research is to improving the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart disease.  And pediatric cardiomyopathy is no exception.  However, a serious lack of research on this condition leaves many unanswered questions about its causes.  On behalf of all young pediatric cardiomyopathy patients, join us in calling on Congress to prioritize our nation’s investment in medical research.
Additionally, we must speak-up to better equip schools to respond quickly to medical emergencies, such as cardiac arrest caused by pediatric cardiomyopathy.  State laws, like the one passed in Massachusetts, require schools to develop emergency medical response plans that can include:

  • A method to establish a rapid communication system linking all parts of the school campus with Emergency Medical Services
  • Protocols for activating EMS and additional emergency personnel in the event of a medical emergency
  • A determination of EMS response time to any location on campus
  • A method for providing training in CPR and First Aid to teachers, athletic coaches, trainers and others – which may include High School students
  • A listing of the location of AEDs and the school personnel trained to use the AED

CPR high school graduation requirements are another important measure to ensure bystanders, particularly in the school setting, are prepared to respond to a cardiac emergency.  19 states have already passed these life-saving laws and we’re on a mission to ensure every student in every state graduates ‘CPR Smart’.
With increased awareness and research of pediatric cardiomyopathy and policy changes to ensure communities and schools are able to respond to cardiac emergencies, we can protect more young hearts.

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy?  Join our new Support Network today to connect with others who share the heart condition.   

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Mark Your Calendar for the EmpowerMEnt Challenge!

We’re gearing up for National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and we want you to be in on all of the action!  Throughout September, we’re encouraging families across the country to take control of their healthy by participating in the EmpowerMEnt Challenge.  Each week, families and kids will pursue a different goal, including eating more fruits and veggies, limiting sugary drinks, reducing sodium intake, and increasing physical activity.  Each goal is fun, simple, won’t break the bank and can be done as a family.  And by the end of the month, families will be a step ahead on the road to a heart-healthy life. 

So mark your calendar for the challenge kick-off on September 1st!  Complimentary templates and activities, broken down into the themed weeks, are now available on  In addition, you're invited to join our EmpowerMEnt Challenge Facebook group, where you can make the commitment to take the challenge and share your progress with others.  

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UPDATE: As Summer Winds Down, the Countdown to CPR in Schools is On!

With the start of the school year just weeks away for most students here in New Jersey, you may be curious about the status of the CPR in Schools bill that the Legislature passed in June, so here is a quick update. The bill has not been signed yet, but we have been in contact with the Governor's administration and they have indicated that a bill signing may be taking place in the near future. The deadline to sign the bill is when the Assembly goes back into session, which will likely be sometime in September.

Regardless of when it is signed, the law will require all students, starting with this year's 9th grade class, to receive hands-on CPR training as part of the health curriculum prior to graduating high school. Many schools that have been giving hands-on CPR training to students for years will likely continue to do so for students in 10-12 grade this year. By the time the high school Class of 2018 reaches their senior year, all public high school students should be receiving the training.

Recently, Utah became the 18th state to require CPR training for high school students. I look forward to celebrating our victory with you when New Jersey is added to this growing list!

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JoAnne & David Babbitt-Chatham, NJ

JoAnne and David Babbitt founded the John Taylor Babbitt Foundation in 2007 in memory of their son John who died of sudden cardiac arrest in 2006 while playing basketball. He was 16. Since its inception, the John Taylor Babbitt Foundation has donated numerous Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) to be made available in public places as well as promote CPR and AED training and awareness of Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

One of the programs the foundation started is JTB Heart Clubs at several high schools in North Jersey. The students in these clubs promote CPR and AED awareness among their peers. Several of the student leaders of these clubs were instrumental in advocating for the CPR in Schools bill that was recently approved by the Legislature.

In 2014, David Babbitt was recognized as a "Hero of the 500" by Fortune Magazine for the Foundation’s efforts to gain greater public access to AEDs and legislative advocacy work.

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New Jersey Legislature Passes CPR in Schools Bill

On June 23, 2014, the NJ General Assembly voted on A2072, a bill requiring public high schools to teach CPR with a hands-on training component as part of the health curriculum. The bill passed 77-0! Later that afternoon, the Senate took a vote on the same legislation. They also passed the bill with an overwhelming majority of 39-1!

The bill is currently on Governor Christie's desk awaiting his signature. It is our hope that he will sign the legislation soon. If he does, New Jersey will become the 18th state in the country to ensure that high schools students have some knowledge of CPR and AED use prior to high school graduation.

The American Heart Association would like to thank Senators Allen and Vitale for being primary sponsors of S235, the Senate version of the bill and Assemblymen Fuentes, Diegnan and Wimberly and Assemblywomen Pinkin and Quijano for being primary sponsors of the bill in the Assembly. We also thank the numerous co-sponsors for their support.

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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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Life-Saving Legislation Advancing in NJ Assembly!

For months, You're the Cure advocates from throughout New Jersey have been contacting their elected officials to voice their support for providing high school students with hands-on CPR training as part of the health curriculum. Our efforts are starting to pay off!

On May 15, the Assembly Education Committee held a hearing. One of the items on the agenda that day was bill number A2072-the CPR in Schools bill! After hearing testimony from American Heart Association volunteer and SCA survivor Laurie Heavener and several high school students who lead their school "Heart Clubs," the committee approved the legislation-UNANIMOUSLY! In addition, we thank Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman and Assemblyman David Rible for joining on as co-sponsors of the bill. They join Assemblyman Angel Fuentes, Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora and Assemblyman John McKeon bringing the total number of sponsors to 7!

We thank Assemblyman Fuentes and Assemblyman Diegnan for their leadership on this issue, as well as all the sponsors and members of the Assembly Education Committee for their support of CPR in Schools. It is our hope that the Assembly will act quickly to pass the legislation and that the Senate Education Committee will vote to approve the measure soon.

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