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Participate in your local August Recess!

We are looking for volunteers to take a meeting with their member of Congress while they are in town this August.

Important federal advocacy goals for Congress this year include:

  • CR (Cardiac Rehab) – changing a key Medicare provision so that those who have survived a coronary event can have easier access to rehabilitation programs
  • FA (FAST Act) – helping connect more stroke patients to life-saving telemedicine services
  • CNR (Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization) – protecting strong school nutrition standards
  • NIH (National Institutes of Health) – increasing federal research funding

 This is an important opportunity for us to get heart and stroke issues in front of our federal elected officials. If you can help us out, please contact Jess Nolan (jess.nolan@heart.org or 952-278-7928) as soon as possible.

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We Met At The Capitol

It has been a busy spring in the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate!  Across the affiliate we have been hosting Lobby Days to bring advocates together to meet with their lawmakers, so join us to learn what your neighbors have been busily working on this session.

South Carolina’s inaugural Lobby Day in March was an overwhelming success!  Advocates spent the day in key meetings with lawmakers, asking for bilateral support around H 3265 - CPR in Schools as well as funding for a position to oversee the state stroke registry.  We are pleased to share that Governor Nikki Haley signed H 3265 into law on April 21, 2016 H 3265.  SC advocates can thank their lawmakers by joining us here!

North Carolina hosted You’re the Cure at the Capitol State Lobby Day in May. What an experience!  Advocates gathered to educate lawmakers about the need for improving access to healthy foods and ask for support of HB 250/SB296: Healthy Food Small Retailer/Corner Store Act.  NC sweet potatoes accompanied by heart healthy recipes were also handed out, and a wheelbarrow filled to the brim with local produce was on display.  Since then, the House included $300,000 in their budget for the initiative and now the budget is headed to the Senate.  NC residents can take action on this issue – just click here.

Virginia held its annual Lobby Day in February, managing meetings with legislators in spite of harsh winter weather.  You're the Cure advocates educated legislators on how the Virginia Grocery Investment Fund would increase access to fresh foods across the state. Advocates followed the effort up later the same week by dropping off a grocery bag of fresh fruit with information about the need to legislators on their way into the Capitol.  Although funding was not ultimately included in the budget, the issue remains, and will be a continued advocacy focus. VA residents can further support this issue now by clicking here to take action.

The District of Columbia held its Lobby Day at City Council in April, bringing advocates together to talk about dealing with DC’s tobacco problems.  In addition to seeking funding for tobacco cessation and prevention programs, You're the Cure advocates asked Councilmembers to remove tobacco from sports venues, raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21, and to treat e-cigarettes the same as other tobacco products in its city code. Although the tobacco funding was not approved, some of the other tobacco issues are still under consideration. Those who live in DC can help push these issues forward by clicking here to take action.  

Maryland’s Lobby Day, focused on including healthy food options in state vending machines, was held in February.  You're the Cure advocates worked hard to educate legislators about providing healthy choices among the other offerings, a measure that would support a healthier population and serve as a good role model for others.  Although the bill was killed in the committee stage, advocates will continue to build support throughout the year, and try again next legislative session. MD residents can speak up for healthy foods by clicking here to take action.

We’d love for you to consider joining us next year at your Lobby Day!  Don’t forget to take action today to tell your lawmakers you support the policies of the AHA.

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UVM Student Research Aids Restaurant Kids Meal Effort

An important part of advocacy is knowing the current environment surrounding an issue. Thanks to research conducted by UVM medical students this past year, we have great data to help us in our efforts this summer and fall to promote nutrition standards for kids meals at Vermont restaurants.  

As part of a public health project with the American Heart Association, the students surveyed Vermont restaurants who served kids meals and found that while 80% of restaurants said they offered healthy entrees, 80% also said they offered unhealthy entrees. This makes it more difficult for parents to feed their kids healthy because kids are often going to want to choose the unhealthy option that they perceive as more flavorful. We want to ensure that all entrée options on the kids’ meals menus are healthy to ensure kids can choose a healthy option, help parents and level the playing field because all Vermont restaurants that serve kids meals would be serving healthy meals. 

Another area to work on is that more than 50% of the restaurants still serve soda with their kids’ meals. But the good news is that the survey results showed the restaurant owners largely DISAGREED that their sales would decrease if they changed their beverage options. And most owners agreed that they had access to resources to make the changes easily.

 With some good data behind us, thanks to the UVM medical students, we hope you’ll help us as well in promoting the need for restaurants to make the healthy choice the easy choice on kids’ meals.

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Take Action for Corner Stores Today

We would all like the option to make a healthy choice, right?  We need your help now to speak up for the Healthy Corner Store Initiative. Legislative session is moving fast and the NC House will be debating the state budget next week. It is important that the $1 million appropriation for Healthy Corner Stores is included.

Ask your legislators to fully fund the Healthy Corner Stores in the state budget.

Over 1.5 million of our North Carolina neighbors live in communities where healthy foods aren’t affordable or accessible. The Healthy Corner Store Initiative can help change that by bringing healthy, local foods into small stores in neighborhoods that need them most.

We all deserve the right to make a healthy choice. Tell your lawmakers today that you want all North Carolinians to have that right and ask them to include full funding for Healthy Corner Stores in the state budget.

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They Want to Hear From You!

Even though Connecticut is indeed a small state, it still consists of no fewer than 169 towns and cities. Within those towns and cities are 151 state representatives and 36 state senators, all of whom are re-elected every two years. You are a constituent to one particular state representative and state senator, and their job is to represent you in Hartford. As an advocate of the American Heart Association, it is important that you know who your own legislators are, and just as important that they know who you are. 

To create this relationship requires little of your time and could start as easily as you sending them a short email introducing yourself as a constituent and letting them know about an issue that you are passionate about, such as heart disease, childhood obesity, unhealthy school marketing or tobacco use.  Once you have exchanged an email or two with your legislators, follow it up periodically with a short note, such as wishing them a fun and relaxing summer, luck in their upcoming elections in November, and a happy holidays. This way they will remember your name and when you need a word with them, their door will be open. Remember, they represent you and really do want to hear from their constituents!

To find your legislator go to https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/CGAFindLeg.asp. You will be asked to pick your town and to enter your street address and will then be provided with a link to their bio’s containing contact information. You can also email me at james.williams@heart.org, and I am happy to help set up and facilitate meetings.

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You’re the Cure at the Capitol State Lobby Day: Issues At A Glance

State Lobby Day is almost here!  These are the issues that we will be discussing with our lawmakers. 

We will have two asks this year, and have included talking points for each issue below.  We know that State Lobby Day this year will be as successful as all of our other years, and we cannot wait for our advocates to join us!

Ask One: Support HB 250/SB 296: Healthy Food Small Retailer/Corner Store Act with full funding

  • North Carolina has at least 349 food deserts across 80 counties, impacting over 1.5 million North Carolina residents in both rural and urban areas.
  • Communities without access to healthy foods are disproportionately impacted by diet-related diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.
  • Without easy access to healthy ingredients, families have a harder time meeting dietary guidelines for good health, such as eating fruits and vegetables and lowering fat intake.
  • North Carolinians across the state overwhelmingly support this effort: A recent poll found over 70% of registered voters support a state-funded Healthy Corner Store Initiative. After learning more information, support rose to 76%.
  • A healthy corner store initiative would: help make healthier food options more accessible, provide small business owners with marketing and technical assistance to stock and sell healthy foods, and create new markets for farmers and fisherman. 

Ask Two: Support increasing access to health care

  • Heart disease is the second and stroke the fourth leading cause of death in North Carolina.
  • Of adults (aged 18-64) who report having heart disease, hypertension or stroke, approximately 15% are uninsured.
  • Nearly half of the uninsured with cardiovascular disease cite cost as the reason they lack coverage; 36% cite a lost job or new employer.
  • The uninsured also report being unable to afford prescription drugs nearly four times more often than those who are insured (43% versus 11%).
  • Providing health insurance coverage will help people gain access to the care they need, which improves health outcomes.

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State Lobby Day: A Day to Remember

We are excited that you are joining us May 10th for the 2016 NC AHA You’re the Cure at the Capitol State Lobby Day.   To help you feel ready, we want to provide some important information about Lobby Day.

Lobby Day Schedule:

  • Registration check-in will open at 8:30 am at the Legislative Building Auditorium (link to map below). 
  • The training program will begin promptly at 9:00 am and conclude by 10:30 am so that you will be able to visit with your lawmakers. During the training we will go over the day’s events, our "asks" for the day, divide into your Lobby Day meeting groups, and have time to practice with your group. 
  • Lunch will be at the General Assembly Cafeteria in the Legislative Building. 
  • Rest area during the day is in the 1200 Court of the Legislative Building. Here you will find AHA staff, have a place to complete meeting evaluations, and take a break. 
  • All activities will conclude by 3:30 pm. 

What to wear and bring with you:

  • Visiting the legislature is an active day.  So wear comfortable shoes! 
  • Business attire is recommended, and we request that you wear something red. 
  • Also – don’t forget to check the weather – if it is supposed to rain, bring your umbrella! (Our event is rain or shine!)

Visiting the Legislature (Parking and Directions):

Staying in Raleigh:
If you prefer to come to Raleigh the evening before, here are some hotels in the downtown area that are convenient to the Legislature:

  • Marriot City Center: 500 Fayetteville Street, Raleigh NC 27601 - Phone: (919) 833-1120
  • Sheraton: 421 South Salisbury Street, Raleigh NC 27601 - Phone: (919) 834-9900
  • Holiday Inn (least expensive and closest to the Legislative Complex): 320 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC 27603 - Phone: (919) 832-0501

We know that was a lot of information to digest!  That is why we will wait until next week to send out information about the issues we will be talking with our legislators about.  When that information is up, you will be able to read about it by checking back with us on this post.

If you have questions about the logistical information, please contact Kacie Kennedy for more information.

 

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Governor Haley Signs Lifesaving Hands-On CPR in Schools Bill into Law

Governor Nikki Haley signed House Bill 3265 into law on Thursday, April 21, requiring all South Carolina students to learn hands-on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). This essential life skill will be incorporated into the already required high school health education curriculum and will ultimately benefit countless families by increasing the number of people with CPR proficiency.  Far too many people die suddenly from cardiac arrest who might have been saved if only those around them were trained to administer CPR.

Coleman Maness, a young, sudden cardiac arrest survivor and American Heart Association volunteer shared his thoughts. "We have been working so hard on this legislation for the past four years, and it is great to finally see the result of our hard work today. My life was saved by Bailey Barnes who performed bystander CPR, and this bill will ensure that other cardiac arrest victims will have a greater chance at survival." Coleman’s story of survival motivated a close friend, at the time a high school student, Sally Sheppard, to take action by working with a local legislator to have CPR in Schools legislation introduced during the 2012 session.

House Bill 3265 was sponsored by over 20 representatives and passed the House unanimously in 2015. The Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children endorsed the CPR in Schools legislation.

Thank your lawmakers for passing this livesaving measure.

Nearly 424,000 people have cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year, and only 10.4 percent survive, most likely because bystanders simply don’t know what to do. When administered right away, CPR doubles or triples survival rates. Teaching students CPR will fill the state with lifesavers, giving sudden cardiac arrest victims the immediate help they need to survive making our communities safer and improving South Carolina’s survival rates.

South Carolina becomes the 30th state to require hands-on CPR joining Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia—all of which require CPR be taught to students in middle or high school.

The legislation was endorsed by 14 national and statewide organizations including the American Heart Association, South Carolina State Association of Fire Chiefs, South Carolina State Firefighters Association, and the South Carolina chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Be sure to send your thank you now.

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Fresh Food for Strong Kids

Why do we need a Healthy Corner Store Initiative?  This week, Valerie King, from Yadkinville, shares her thoughts.

Help us bring healthy foods to all NC communities this year – tell your lawmaker today.

"My little diva was born with a congenital heart defect. She has had 5 open heart surgeries and is the strongest kid I know. As we shuffle about from one after school activity to another, I get upset when I realize I have forgotten any snacks for her. When you live in rural North Carolina there aren’t many options available to stop and pick her up a quick healthy snack.

Her heart disease is something we couldn’t prevent. Now that she is here we want to be able to make sure she fuels her body with what she needs."

We all deserve the right to make a healthy choice. As legislative session is just around the corner, tell your lawmakers today that healthy food should be accessible in all communities, and ask them to support HB 250, the Healthy Small Food Retailer Act.

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We Want You... To Come To State Lobby Day

Don’t worry!  There is still time to register for NC AHA You're the Cure State Lobby Day on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. But if you haven't already signed up - don't delay! Sign up here.

The event will begin promptly at 9am with an issues overview and advocacy training at the legislative building. The rest of the day will be spent meeting face to face with lawmakers and watching the House and Senate in action. We anticipate the day ending around 3:30pm.

This year, we will be advocating for the following policy initiatives:

  • Passage of the Healthy Corner Store Initiative with full funding.
  • Sharing the vital importance of accessing healthcare.

Register now! It's easy - just click here. Please register by Monday, April 25, as space is limited.

Final event details will be emailed in late April.

If you have any questions, please contact Kacie Kennedy.

We look forward to an exciting day with our advocates!

Sincerely,

Kim Chidester, Sarah Jacobson, & Betsy Vetter
Your North Carolina Advocacy Team

*PS - Want to make your registration easier? On the "detailed information" page, check the box beside the statement "carry forward" and your information will auto-fill on the next page of the registration form.

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