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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 teachinggardens@heart.org to find how you can get involved.

               

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Amy Edmunds

Amy Edmunds, South Carolina

Opening doors has been the most rewarding aspect of my volunteer experience. Since experiencing ischemic stroke in 2002, I have been an actively engaged volunteer throughout the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate.

Undoubtedly, the first door to open was my own! It has been an amazing transition to evolve from volunteer to spokesperson. But You're the Cure's comprehensive advocacy training helped hone my message and presentation to enable me to comfortably address the Rally for Medical Research last year to urge Congress to restore National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. And, it was a treat to meet with AHA's CEO Nancy Brown and NIH's Executive Director Dr. Francis Collins!

Please, join me at hour 1, minute 15 to hear my message.

(Please visit the site to view this video)

For me, You're the Cure has afforded the opportunity to champion issues related to stroke among young adults from a local to national platform. Over the years, I have not only participated in numerous local Heart Walks, HeartBalls, and Go Red For Women events but also statewide lobby initiatives, national taskforces and Lobby Days. And, yes... even to the White House as a briefing attendee.??

So, go ahead and open the door to opportunity... for yourself as well as for those you love!

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Tell Us Who You Really Are!

Tailor your experience with us! Your profile on the You’re the Cure website is vital for us to convey our policy needs. Keeping our advocates informed and up-to-date on policy issues is the best way to guarantee that our advocacy partnership stays strong and when we need to make a move, we can reach you on the issues you are interested in.

When it comes to your personal advocate profile, we want to make sure you receive the information that you prefer and feel passionately about. It’s important that we know what policies most interest you.

CLICK HERE so we can make sure that you are presented with advocacy opportunities that truly speak to you.

It takes just a few moments to update your profile and interests, and those moments go a long way in ensuring that you hear the most current news and get action opportunities on issues that strike close to your heart.

As always, we thank you and appreciate you for what you have done, what you are doing now, and what you will do as a You’re the Cure advocate in the future.

Thank you for making a difference.

 

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CPR Matters

Sometimes you just need a lifesaver. Quickly. The American Heart Association is creating a generation of lifesavers by making sure students learn CPR before they graduate from high school.  The goal is to teach lifesaving CPR skills to as many teens and young adults as possible in every state to help keep our communities safer.  Having a new generation of lifesavers will benefit everyone.  We have heard many stories about emergency situations where bystanders do not know what to do, but a CPR-trained person is the one to remain calm and save a person’s life.

The need is dire. Nearly 424,000 people have cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year, and only 10.4% survive, often because they don’t receive timely CPR. Given right away, CPR doubles or triples survival rates. Teaching students CPR could save thousands of lives by filling our communities with those trained to give sudden cardiac arrest victims the immediate help they need to survive until EMTs arrive. Almost 90 percent of people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital die, most likely because they don’t get CPR treatment within the first few precious minutes.

Sudden cardiac arrest can happen any place, at any time. If you suffer sudden cardiac arrest, your best chance at survival is receiving bystander CPR until EMTs arrive.  Teaching students CPR before they graduate puts thousands of qualified lifesavers on our streets every year.

In less than 30-minutes, students can learn the skills they need to help save someone’s life with CPR. With a short time investment, today’s students will become tomorrow’s lifesavers. Everyone benefits from having more lifesavers in our community.

Here in The American Heart Association’s Mid-Atlantic Affiliate, You’re the Cure advocates have helped us make great progress on this goal, by telling their legislators all students should be trained in CPR before they graduate:

DC:  We’re working on it… DC City Council is looking at establishing emergency medical response plans and training in DC schools.  AHA, through You’re the Cure, is working with the committee to include student training requirements for graduation. CPR training in DC schools would prepare roughly 3500 students annually to save a life. If you live in DC, watch your inbox for action opportunities to support this effort as it unfolds.

MD:  We did that!  Breanna’s Bill passed just this year and will soon become a reality for MD students. If you live in MD, take a moment to Thank Your Legislators for this big win.  Because of CPR training in MD schools, there will be over 58,000 new lifesavers in MD communities every year.

NC:  We did that!  We passed HB 837 in 2012 and its implementation is well under way.  Because of CPR training in NC schools, there will be close to 87,000 new lifesavers in NC communities every year.

SC:  The SC General Assembly adjourned without passing CPR in Schools, but we will introduce next year.  When we get this bill passed there will be over 39,000 new lifesavers in SC communities every year.

VA:  We did that!  Gwyneth’s Law passed just last year and is in implementation stages now. Because of CPR training in VA schools, there will be over 79,500 new lifesavers in VA communities every year.


Thanks to You’re the Cure advocate Karen Wiggins, LPN, CHWC, for developing this blog post!

 

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Let's Give Our Children A Long Life

For so many reasons in our society, children are incredibly important. They will eventually become the next generation of teachers, doctors, medical researchers, elected officials, businessmen and women, and community leaders whose achievements and decisions affect all of our lives. We work hard to ensure they have access to education, opportunity, and the ability to give back to the society to which they belong.

It’s no secret that every one of us wants our children to eat healthy and live long lives so they can achieve to their highest potential. The basic building block of this journey is a healthy child, which is largely influenced by their nutrition. In our beautiful Palmetto state, though, we need to make this a priority. South Carolina has the 3 highest childhood obesity rate in the United States. Currently 39.2% of youth (ages 10-17) in South Carolina are overweight or obese (National Survey of Children’s Health).

We owe our children more. We need to ensure that when they aren’t at home, their schools continue to offer them the healthiest, most nutritious food options. This is why in 2015, we desperately need your support on Smart Snacks legislation. This will ensure all snacks and beverages sold in schools meet the new USDA guidelines. This also guarantees students have access to healthy choices during and after school.

We owe our state more.

In 2009, it is estimated that $1.2 billion dollars was spent on health-care costs due to obesity in our state, with the projected increase to $5.3 billion dollars in 2018 (SC DHEC). Taxpayers, through Medicaid or Medicare, pay the majority of this cost. This cost could be alleviated, with money spent elsewhere, if more of an effort was made on every level to influence health and nutrition in children and residents of our state.

Supporting the effort to keep our children healthy could be as simple as a vote. Your elected officials in South Carolina need to hear your voice, and they need to understand the message that we want to keep our kids healthy – and we need their vote to do it.

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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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Can You Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T.?

 

Tick-tock, tick-tock.  Every minute counts.  Every 40 seconds someone in the US has a stroke. Timely response saves lives and is critical to help those affected not only survive but thrive as well.

Approximately 700,000 Americans have a new or recurrent stroke each year, and stroke remains the third leading cause of death in the United States. Stroke also remains a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States.  

With a possible stroke it is imperative that action is taken FAST.  If you notice Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, it’s Time to call 911, F.A.S.T.

You’re the Cure advocates have worked hard to put policies in place to help people survive a stroke, like designation of qualified hospitals as Primary Stroke Centers (PSC).

Receiving treatment at a certified PSC can save lives.  At the PSC, CT scans of the brain, EKGs, chest X-rays and lab tests should be completed and results reviewed within 45 minutes of being ordered. Time is of the essence. TPA, a drug that breaks up clots that interrupt blood flow to the brain is the first line of defense.  PSC’s are required to keep this drug on site. It can be safely administered with positive results up to 4.5 hours after someone first notices stroke symptoms.  That makes it critical to note the time of onset of symptoms, if possible.

Being proactive in regards to your health can start by taking a few minutes to call your local hospitals to see if they are on the list of PSC’s.  

You can help be the cure:  Learn about heart-health issues. Meet other like-minded advocates. Take action and be heard.  You have the power.  Spread the news with your family and friends. Utilize all your social media accounts. Network for stroke health! 

To find all this and more CLICK the PIC:

 

 

 

 

 

Blog post by You’re The Cure Advocate Karen Wiggins, LPN, CHWC

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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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Look At All We've Done

In the hustle and bustle of life, it seems there is always something that needs our attention.  Maybe it’s a lunch appointment, a meeting after work – did you remember to call your mom to wish her a happy birthday?

With so many things monopolizing our time, it begs the question: “Why do we do what we do?”  How do we choose to prioritize what gets our few free moments?  As a You’re The Cure Advocate, why do you choose to align yourself with our mission?  Do you know all that we have accomplished?

Today, we are bragging on you. Each action you have taken: every email you’ve sent to your lawmakers, every meeting you’ve attended has helped propel forward many vital pieces of legislation.  We want to tell how you’ve shaped our Mid-Atlantic Affiliate over the past few years.

Maryland:
2012 Legislative Session: tax on small cigars and all smokeless products was raised. Legislation was also passed to require insurance carriers to cover and reimburse healthcare providers for services delivered through telemedicine.
2013 Legislative Session: hospitals in MD are required to test newborns for critical congenital heart defects with pulse oximetry before they are discharged from the hospital. 
Thank you.

North Carolina:
2012 Legislative Session: required all high school seniors to be proficient in CPR in order to graduate high school.  In addition, a total of $2.7 million in non-recurring funding was secured for tobacco cessation and prevention programs. 
2013 Legislative Session: hospitals in NC are required to test newborns for critical congenital heart defects with pulse oximetry before they are discharged from the hospital.   Also signed into law was a policy that ensures designation of Primary Stroke Centers - ensuring stroke patients receive appropriate & timely care. 
Thank you.

South Carolina:
2012 Legislative Session: advocates were able to preserve $5 million for the Smoking Prevention and Cessation Trust Fund. 
2013 Legislative Session: hospitals in SC are required to test newborns for critical congenital heart defects with pulse oximetry before they are discharged from the hospital. Additionally, the Senate passed legislation requiring all high school seniors to be proficient in CPR in order to graduate high school.  This legislation is headed to the House of Representatives, and our SC advocates will be vital in ensuring this becomes law.
Thank you.

Virginia:
2012 Legislative Session: Governor McDonnell issued Executive Directive 4, developing an implementation plan for pulse oximetry tests in hospitals. The House also required the Board of Education to develop PE guidelines for public elementary and middle schools.
2013 Legislative Session: Gwyneth’s Law was signed into law.  All high school students will be required to achieve proficiency in CPR for graduation – and all teachers must be proficient in order to achieve their licensure.  The state budget allocated $400,000 for 12-lead ECG’s for EMS, which helps to diagnose the most severe type of heart attack.
Thank you.

Washington, DC:
2012 Legislative Session: the DC City Council allocated $495,000 for tobacco control programs within the Department of Health.
2013 Legislative Session: the DC Telehealth Reimbursement Act of 2013 requires all payers to reimburse services rendered by telemedicine.
Thank you.

Advocates are driving more policies in the 2014 sessions!  Some say “It takes a village to raise a child.”  With You’re The Cure, it “takes a network to make a difference.” Each and every one of you has made a difference.

Thank you for giving your heart.

 

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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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