American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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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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Bobby McKeeby, New Jersey

Bobby McKeeby was at home in Newton, NJ last summer when a frantic woman appeared at his door. Her husband had lost consciousness in the passenger seat while she was driving. He was not breathing and needed help. After calling 911, Bobby went with the woman to her husband. Bobby had no medical training-aside from the CPR training he received at Pope John High School more than 40 years earlier. He sprang into action and started performing CPR as he had been taught until the man started to breathe again. EMS personnel arrived on the scene shortly after.

A few months later, there was another knock at Bobby’s door. This time it was the same woman that was there months earlier along with her husband. They had stopped by to thank Bobby. His heroic actions that day saved his neighbor’s life.

Since that day, Bobby has become a volunteer for the American Heart Association and an advocate for teaching CPR to high school students in New Jersey. In June 2014, he was awarded an American HeartSaver Award for his role in saving his neighbor's life.

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Take Control of Your Health

Did you know high blood pressure has also been called the “silent killer”? That’s because its symptoms are not always obvious, making the need for regular check-ups important.  As we recognize High Blood Pressure Awareness Month, here are the facts:

• High blood pressure (aka: hypertension) is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.

• It’s the leading risk factor of women’s deaths in the U.S., and the second leading risk factor for death for men.

• One-third of American adults have high blood pressure. And 90 percent of American adults are expected to develop high blood pressure over their lifetimes.

• More than 40 percent of non-Hispanic black adults have high blood pressure. Not only is high blood pressure more prevalent in blacks than whites, but it also develops earlier in life.
• Despite popular belief, teens, children and even babies can have high blood pressure. As with adults, early diagnosis and treatment can reduce or prevent the harmful consequences of this disease.

Now that you know the facts, what can you do to take control? The answer is a “lifestyle prescription” that can prevent and manage high blood pressure. A healthy lifestyle includes exercise, stress management, and eating a healthy diet, especially by reducing the sodium you eat. To learn more about taking control of you blood pressure, be sure to visit our online toolkit!

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Garden State Students Advocate for CPR

Advocates in New Jersey are still hard at work advocating for CPR training in the Garden State's high schools.

Recently, several high school students joined representatives from the American Heart Association and the John Taylor Babbitt Foundation for a meeting with Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee. The students are leaders of "Heart Clubs" at their high school. They are all trained in CPR and spoke about the impact that heart disease had had on them personally and the importance of young people learning CPR.

The American Heart Association thanks Assemblyman Diegnan for taking the time to meet with high school students in the state to hear about the importance of learning CPR. We hope that sometime soon, all students in New Jersey will be learning this life-saving skill.

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Bob Goodman, New Jersey

Bob Goodman was the picture of good health. His father died of a heart attack at the age of 57, when Bob was still a child. He knew that if he wanted to live a long, healthy life, it would be necessary to adopt a healthy lifestyle.  Bob’s daily routine included plenty of physical activity, including participating in a number of marathons.

However, several months ago Bob was diagnosed with a rare condition called sarcoidosis that was affecting his heart. He underwent a heart transplant in November 2013.

Just 5 months after his operation, Bob is recovering and decided that he wanted to use his experience to give back. He is an active advocate on the You’re the Cure network and a member of the Government Relations Advisory Board. Bob wants to share his story with others and spread his message about the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

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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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