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Share Your Pics: Join Us for an Online Food Fight

Fall brings about visions of harvest and nature's bounty. Unfortunately what we see when we are out on the go doesn't always match that vision. What do you see? This fall we want to know what you see - in convenience stores or where you stop to shop when you are on the go. Simply snap a picture for us and then upload it to your favorite social media site with the hash tag #healthyonthegoNC.

If you see some great healthy food, let us know by uploading your pictures and captioning them with "This corner store is making it easy for me to be #healthyonthegoNC." Or is your local selection not so great? Show us with "This is all I have to choose from? I want my corner store to be #healthyonthegoNC" - or simply create your own caption with the hash tag! 

**Many thanks to Victoria Scholl, who has been interning in our Morrisville Office, for putting together this post!

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Trick or Treat?

Candy Corn, Gummy Bears, Peanut Butter Cups, Swedish Fish, Candy Bar, Bubblegum and Cotton Candy… These may sound like treats the neighborhood kids are hoping to pick up when they go trick-or-treating later this month, but they’re actually the tricks used by companies to hook our kids on nicotine. These are flavors of e-cigarette liquid available for purchase today.

With alluring flavors like those and a dramatic increase in youth exposure to e-cigarette advertising, the rising popularity of e-cigarettes among youth shouldn’t come as a surprise. Still, it raises concerns. Strong regulations are needed to keep these tobacco products out of the hands of children. We’ve asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prohibit the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and we’re still waiting for them to act.

Meanwhile, CDC launched this week their #20Million Memorial. 20 million people have died from smoking-related illnesses since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health. Has smoking affected you and your family? Check out this moving online memorial, then share your story or honor loved ones lost too soon with the hashtag #20Million.  

AHA staff and volunteers across the country are preparing to fight the tobacco epidemic in upcoming state legislative sessions. They’ll ask for state funding for tobacco prevention programs and for increased tobacco taxes, a proven deterrent for youth smoking.

This Halloween, don’t let our kids continue to get tricked by the tobacco companies. Help end the tobacco epidemic for good. To amplify our message with lawmakers, ask friends and family members to join us, then watch your inbox for opportunities to act!  

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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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Joye Mullis

Joye Mullis, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

As with all children, my son’s story began well before his birth.  I had a fairly easy pregnancy, tainted by a couple of scares early on, but then all appeared well at my 20-week ultrasound. 

I was healthy.  Baby was healthy.  Life was good.

At 28 weeks, I had a second ultrasound to check on the baby’s growth and that sent my husband, Jeramie, and me into a fast-moving downward spiral of more ultrasounds, stress tests, and worries.  By the time our son, Ethan, was born on March 8th, 2009, I’d had a total of five ultrasounds, all attempting to diagnose what would be two birth defects – one urological in nature and one orthopedic.

“But...” an OB assured us, “...all of his major organs are healthy and strong!”

However, about eight hours after Ethan’s birth we learned that the doctor was not completely right.  After struggling to nurse and being an overall quiet newborn - two major red flags that weren’t apparent to us first-time parents - it was discovered that Ethan had also been born with a critical congenital heart defect known as Pulmonary Atresia.

My post-partum nurse was bringing Ethan back to our room from his newborn screening when she noticed that “he just didn’t look right”.  She wheeled him back into the nursery, hooked him up to a pulse oximeter, and found that his oxygen saturation level was in the mid-60s.  That discovery began a flurry of activity, unbeknownst to us, which culminated in someone coming to our room hours later to tell us about the broken heart of our brand new son.

Ethan was rushed to Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina where he stayed for a total of nine and a half weeks, and where he underwent his first open-heart surgery at just three days old.  He had a handful of surgeries during that time – one of which was to implant a permanent pacemaker – and he also survived full cardiac and pulmonary arrest.

Over five and a half years, and three open heart surgeries later, Ethan is now thriving! His story is that of strength and resilience.  It's a story about rising above the brokenness and turning something so tragic into something so beautiful. It has taken a lot of work to get Ethan where he is today, and it all began with an observant nurse and a sticky light.  One simple test saved my son’s life and could do the same for countless others.

I’ve been known to say that the diagnosis of Ethan’s heart defect didn’t just break one heart – it broke three.  While Pulse Ox screening can’t take away the heartache of surgeries and complications, it can be the start of a lifetime of success for a baby born with a congenital heart defect.  It was for Ethan, and every baby born in North Carolina deserves that same start. 

   

 

 

 

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Throw Down the Gauntlet for Healthy Food Options!

Our North Carolina Advocacy Coordinating Committee Chair has a letter for all of our North Carolina You’re the Cure advocates encouraging everyone to take a few moments and let the Governor and Lt. Governor know how important access to healthy foods is important for all areas of North Carolina.  Take a moment to read Yolanda’s encouraging letter below, and then take some time to let Governor McCrory and Lt. Governor Forest know that healthy foods are important in all parts of North Carolina.

 

Fellow You’re the Cure Member,

This year, as the Chair of the NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Committee, I am writing to challenge you to become an active advocate in You're the Cure NC's campaign to ensure we can shop for healthy foods, regardless of where we live.

A nearby, well-stocked grocery store is something many of us take for granted. But for 1.5 million North Carolinians living in food deserts, areas where it is difficult to buy fresh food, just getting to the grocery store can be a constant struggle. As a result, children and families rely on neighborhood corner or convenience stores for food purchases, which often may not offer fresh produce, low-fat dairy, lean meats, and other healthy foods.

But what if those same neighborhood corner stores sold healthy, affordable food? A healthy corner store initiative for North Carolina would help make better food options more accessible in our communities.

How can you help? Take two steps today!

1. Right now, click here to email Governor McCrory and Lt. Governor Forest and ask them to make a healthy corner store initiative a priority in 2015.
2. Then, forward this request to 5 of your friends, family, or neighbors and ask them to send an email, too.

Among children today - one in three of whom are either overweight or obese - we're seeing a range of preventable health problems that previously weren't seen until adulthood, such as high blood pressure, elevated blood cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. Together we can start to change this tide by helping to make sure healthy foods are available just around the corner. Healthy corner stores can make the difference.

Are you up to the challenge? Join me and let's bring healthy corner stores to our communities!

Sincerely,

Yolanda Dickerson
Chair, NC American Heart Association Advocacy Coordinating Committee

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You’re the Cure Advocates Make A Difference in Mecklenburg County

On September 2nd, You’re the Cure advocates came together and attended a Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners meeting to discuss proposed tobacco-free regulations pertaining to Smoke Free Government Grounds and Tobacco Free Parks and Greenways.

During this hearing, several You’re the Cure advocates, including Juddson Rupp, Dr. Sandra Burke, and Dr. Thomas Barringer, spoke to the social and health effects of smoking. 

Juddson, speaking to social effects of smoking, said: “Not only being a survivor but being a parent and a community leader, that I’d like to see our public parks be smoke free so that it’s not so much hypocrisy when you go to a park and seeing people exercise… also seeing several people smoking or even on the golf course for that matter.”

Dr. Sandra Burke, cardiovascular scientist, AHA National Research Committee member, AHA Charlotte Metro Board member, and NC You’re the Cure member, spoke to the science of the damage smoking & second-hand smoke can have on endothelial cells in our body, damage which can ultimately produce heart attacks and even strokes.

Dr. Barringer, a physician specifying in cardiovascular disease prevention, also an AHA Charlotte Metro Board member and NC You’re the Cure member, said there were several reasons to pass the legislation, one of which is that “secondhand smoke is harmful to humans (especially the smaller they are) … it is a known cause of lung cancer and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by 25-30%.”

The American Heart Association was also joined by volunteers in other community groups, and walked away feeling confident that the reasons, both medical and social, for passing the proposed regulations were clearly and empirically supported and that the community of Mecklenburg County, as well as the Board of County Commissioners, was now more aware of why the vote on September 17th needs to be in support of the legislation.

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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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Help Grow Grassroots at our fall NC Heart Walks!

Heart Walk is a wonderful opportunity to help make walkers aware of our important advocacy efforts and engage them in the You're the Cure grassroots network. We need your help manning our You're the Cure booths at these events! Take a look at the full list of Heart Walk events below and let us know if you can help.

RSVP to Kim Chidester (kim.chidester@heart.org) to come work a booth with us!

Charlotte Heart Walk: Saturday, September 20 at Uptown Charlotte, Trade & Tryon Streets
Triangle (Raleigh) Heart Walk: Sunday, September 28 at PNC Arena, Raleigh
Sandhills (Fayetteville) Heart Walk: Saturday, October 11 at Festival Park
Twin Counties (Rocky Mount) Heart Walk: Saturday, October 11 at Rocky Mount Sports Complex, 600 Independence Dr
Cape Fear (Wilmington) Heart Walk: Saturday, October 18 at UNCW Athletic Track Field, corner of Hamilton and Hurst, across from Trask Coliseum
Tanglewood (Winston-Salem) Heart Walk: Saturday, October 18 at Tanglewood Park
Down East (Greenville/Pitt) Heart Walk: Saturday, October 25 at Greensprings Park

Volunteer to help grow grassroots at a Heart Walk near you! Send a quick email to let me know you plan to come help us recruit!

Want to join or captain a Heart Walk team as well? It's easy! CLICK HERE to pick an event and get signed up to help raise critical dollars that help reduce the impact of heart disease and stroke.

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What Is Your Why?

As you may know, the American Heart Association has kicked off our new "Life is Why" campaign. We know there are many reasons "why" you are passionate, and we’d like to know what the reasons are behind your "why!"

We are running a social media campaign focused on this question throughout the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate, and would love for you to include your story via Facebook (#lifeiswhy), Instagram (@heartmaa) or Twitter (@midatlnticheart). We want to hear and see the motivation for your passion, so please join us by sharing your Why today!

What’s OUR Why?

At the August Mid-Atlantic Affiliate’s All Staff meeting, your Government Relations team was awarded the "Greatest Health Impact" award.  What does this mean? It means that your Government Relations team has most positively impacted the lives of the residents of our Affiliate through our accomplishment of passing public policy (like the Pulse Oximetry bill in North Carolina, or CPR in Schools legislation in Virginia and Maryland) and improving the health of our local communities. 

Cathleen Grzesiek, Vice President of Government Relations for the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate, said "This award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our government relations directors, grassroots directors, and all of our volunteers over the past year.  Our policy success couldn’t happen without each of them, and together, we are making a huge impact on health across the Mid-Atlantic.  Our team embodies the idea that ‘making a difference is why.’"

We could not have done this without the help of you, our You’re the Cure family!

While at times the policy process can be labored, this just proves that your resolute determination and passion have made a true difference all across the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate.

So today, it is with pleasure that we share that YOU are our why, and we hope that you will share your why with us!

You are invaluable to us, and we are thankful for you and for the great impact you have made on the health of your local and regional communities.

Thank you!

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The Truth Lies in the Lunch Bag

During August, while Congress is on recess, advocates are keeping the importance of child nutrition standards in front our lawmakers!

We have been working to support the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which provides strong nutrition standards for school meals.  Congress is working on appropriations, and the school nutrition standards have been a hot topic in the agriculture appropriations debate.  The House bill would allow schools to get waivers from these standards and the Senate bill would delay the sodium standards we support.  Because members of Congress are on recess, this is the perfect opportunity to urge their support for keeping the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act strong. 

On August 20th, You’re the Cure advocates Mary Kay Ballasiotes, Michelle Ballasiotes, Dr. Sandra Burke, Tracey Perry, and Judd Rupp, along with advocacy staff, Kim Chidester, met with Travis Manigan, Charlotte Regional Liaison for Senator Kay Hagan.  In that meeting, they discussed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act and how important it is to the students and families in North Carolina for Senator Hagan to support this legislation. 

Michelle Ballasiotes shared the reasons why, as a high school student, she brings her lunch to school and has for years: the food isn’t very good and she’d rather bring her food than buy at school.  Her testimony is evident of the larger problem: students in North Carolina, and across the county, need and want nutritious foods to eat for lunch – and with some students being given only 20 minutes to eat, a quick and healthy meal is vital to their well-being.

The meeting was very positive, and it was indicative of how easy it is to become involved in the political process as a You’re the Cure advocate on local and federal issues.

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