American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Summer is Sweet Enough Without Sugary Drinks

Sugar sweetened beverages are the primary source of added sugars in Americans’ diets. Consumption of these drinks has increased 500% in the last fifty years!

It’s no wonder we’re in the midst of an obesity epidemic that’s responsible for 21% of all health care costs.

Join our fight to reduce consumption of sugary drinks.  Summer is a great time to start. Begin at home, then make a pledge to help spread the word. Choose one of the options below or come up with your own idea. But take action!

  • Ask a local business to offer more healthy drink options.
  • Ask my kids’ summer camp to encourage parents to only pack water and discourage fruit drinks and sports drinks.
  • Ask community leaders to improve water quality in parks and schools.
  • Ask my dentist to talk to all his/her patients about the effects of sugary drinks.
  • Serve or bring no-sugar drinks to my next community event.
  • Tell other parents and caregivers about how much sugar is in sports drinks, juice drinks and sodas and why I choose healthy drinks.

The American Heart Association is working together with the Alliance for a Healthier Vermont to tackle obesity and sugary drinks in Vermont. Learn more by visiting:

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Vermont Schools Fighting Obesity!

The American Heart Association has been working with the statewide coalition Eat Well Play More Vermont (EWPM) to reduce childhood obesity. The EWPM coalition offered the opportunity for schools across Vermont to apply for grants to reduce obesity in their communities and we received a number of great proposals.

The following schools were chosen to receive the first round of grants averaging around $3,000. Click on the links to view the amazing videos schools submitted for their projects!

Berlin Elementary School

Fitness Course

Brattleboro Area Middle School

Brattleboro Enrichment Activities for Middle Schoolers (BEAMS)

Hartland Elementary

Tabata Kids/Brain Fit Room

Northfield Middle High School

Healthy Green Smoothy Movement

St. Albans City School

School Walking Program

Winooski Middle School

Spartans in Motion (SIM)

A second round of grants will be offered this fall.


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Mary Cushman - An Advocacy "Hero"

American Heart Association Advocate and Board Member Mary Cushman takes her role as an advocate seriously, serving on both the Vermont and National AHA Advocacy Committees.

As a physician and researcher, she knows both are important to preventing lives lost to heart disease and stroke.  But she also knows that advocacy is the third important tool in her war chest to prevent these terrible diseases and save lives through policy change.

Mary has traveled to Washington, DC to urge Vermont's Congressional Delegation to support research funding. She takes action often through the American Heart Association's own advocacy network and has worked on such issues as CPR in Schools, a tobacco tax and sugar sweetened beverage tax and recreational use of school property.  She's been so active, that she is now ranked as a  Hero in our network, having earned over 700 points for her actions in responding to advocacy alerts. Way to go Mary!

The more you take action, the more points you'll earn and the higher your advocacy status will climb! Thanks to Mary and all our advocates for making advocacy a priority.

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We need your help in fighting obesity!

We need your help in our effort to provide Vermonters more places to recreate. Legislation which would give schools protection from liability to open their facilities to the community for recreational use has stalled. Though we had some amazing testimony from supporters before the House Education Committee recently, the committee needs to hear from more Vermonters who want this legislation and schools whose concerns over liability may be preventing them from opening their doors to the community.

Here are some key facts. Please write letters to your local papers about this important issue!

  • This legislation provides schools with a tool to open more recreational facilities to Vermonters and help Vermont reduce increasing obesity rates.
  • It would remove barriers and perceived barriers for schools to open their buildings and grounds to the community for recreational purposes.
  • Vermont schools want to be a community resource and have noted liability as one of their top concerns with opening their facilities to the public for recreation.
  • Vermont wouldn’t be alone in addressing this issue – At least 13 states have passed legislation that meets AHA standards. 6 others are working to strengthen their laws.

We can help to address this by opening our schools’ facilities and grounds to communities for recreational activities and giving them the resources to do it by:

  • Providing access to recreational facilities is critical for helping people be more active.
  • School facilities can be an excellent resource for recreation and exercise where there is limited availability or private options are too expensive.
  • Research shows that people who are able to easily access recreational facilities exercise 38% more than those without easy access.
  • Having access to parks and recreational facilities is associated with lower body mass index among children and increased physical activity among adults.
  • Vermont data shows there are significant disparities in access to parks and recreational facilities across Vermont.
  • Franklin County, has a rate of 4 recreational facilities per 100,000 people. It also has a high rate of physical inactive adults – 25% get no physical activity and 29% are obese.
  • In comparison, Washington County has a rate of 18 recreational facilities per 100,000 people. Rates of physical inactivity and adult obesity are comparatively lower --18% of adults get no physical activity and 22% of adults are obese.
  • Providing schools liability protection to open their facilities to the public for recreation will help to level the playing field.
  • Schools can offer a variety of safe facilities, including running tracks, pools, gymnasiums, fitness rooms, and playgrounds for Vermonters of all ages to use at little or no cost.

Click on the link below to take action on our alert:

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Volunteer Ed Adrian Argues for Shared Use Legislation

Burlington Attorney Ed Adrian rallied behind the American Heart Association's effort to pass legislation providing schools with greater liability protection to open their buildings to the community for recreational purposes. Ed testified before the House Education Committee this month telling committee members its not unusual for Vermont to pass legislation providing immunity to a certain group when it benefits the greater good, especially for health. He noted that while some schools may incur costs related to increased use of their facilities, Vermonters overall could benefit from decreased health care spending as we reduce reduce obesity rates via increased physical activity.

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Vermont principals support community use of schools - but are also concerned about liability

The American Heart Association supports legislation providing Vermont schools with greater protection from liability to encourage schools to open their buildings and grounds to the public for recreational use during non-school hours. Research shows people are 38% more likely to exercise when they have parks or creational facilities nearby.

93 Vermont principals who responded to our survey on the issue between October and January supported community recreational use of schools and liability was their greatest concern. See the survey results below. 


Are you in general supportive of community use of your recreation facilities and grounds during non-school hours as a way of providing an opportunity for your community to live a healthy lifestyle?

 Yes – 98.89%

No – 3.33%

Please prioritize what concerns you may have from the list below regarding allowing school building and grounds use after hours? 

  •  Incurring unplanned costs as a result of others using the building – 14.13%
  • Liability for the school if someone is hurt – 27.17%
  • Supervision – 26.09%
  • Damage to the school building – 5.43%
  • Alcohol or drug use on the school premises – 1.09%
  • Safety of users – 9.78%
  • Condition building is left following the activity – 7.61%
  • Disruption of the regular school schedule – 2.17%
  • I don't think about any of these – 6.52%

Please let us know if your school is concerned about this issue. Email

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Tobacco trust fund is needed

Fifty years after the surgeon general first told Americans that smoking causes disease and death, the American Heart Association and other public health advocacy groups have announced bold new goals to end the tobacco epidemic for good, including reducing adult tobacco use to 10 percent.

As the president-elect of the Vermont board of the American Heart Association, and as a nurse, I support these goals and want to urge the Legislature and administration to restore the tobacco trust fund.

This funding is sorely needed or the tobacco control program will be at risk. The trust fund is nearly empty, and we’ll soon lose $10 million to $14 million in tobacco settlement dollars that Vermont has been receiving annually for its role in the settlement with the tobacco industry.

We need to make a long-term and serious commitment to reduce tobacco use in Vermont — providing help for smokers to quit and messaging that will prevent kids from ever taking up the deadly habit. Reinvesting in the tobacco trust fund will help meet the goal of legislators who created the fund in 1999 to ensure we could fight tobacco for years to come.

With smoking costing $233 million in health care spending each year — $72 million of which is Medicaid expenditures directly related to smoking — developing a long-term plan to ensure the health of Vermont’s tobacco control program is a must.

I think it’s more than a coincidence that Vermont’s $8 million settlement with R.J. Reynolds for the company’s deceptive advertising of its Eclipse cigarette happened when it did. This money shouldn’t be looked at as gravy to patch budget holes, but instead should be placed in the trust fund to uphold the promise we made to smokers that we would help them quit and provide the resources to do it.

Julie Morse



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Vermont legislative session begins!

January 7th kicked off the first day of Vermont's legislative session.  Our work to pass legislation fighting heart disease and stroke kicks into full gear.

  • AHA legislative reception – A reminder that our legislative reception will be held February 5th from 4:30-5:30pm at the Cedar Creek Room at the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier.  Wine an appetizers will be served and we will focus on two of our advocacy issues: shared use legislation that allows schools greater liability protection to open their facilities to the public for recreational activity during non-school hours and funding for the tobacco trust fund and tobacco program.  Please come and talk with your legislators and support our priorities. RSVP to if you haven’t or know other volunteers who would like to attend.

  • Session begins with some good news on SSB  tax– Governor Shumlin addressed both health committees this morning for the first time regarding health care reform efforts. The Governor promoted his Single Payer Health Care proposal. During the questioning by committee members, Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas noted that the Governor was opposed to a sugar sweetened beverage tax as a health care financing measure last session. But the Governor responded that “everything is fair game and everything is on the table.” So, let’s keep pushing. Photo of Governor commenting is attached.


  •  Tobacco $ should go to tobacco trust fund -- With under $2 million left in its balance (which is expected to be used up this year), the tobacco trust fund needs to be restored for the long-term health of Vermont’s Tobacco Control Program and we’ll be pushing lawmakers to do just that. It was announced this week that Vermont will be receiving $8.3 million in civil penalties from RJ Reynolds for false claims about its Eclipse cigarette. We will be urging the legislature and Administration to place at least a portion of these funds into the tobacco trust fund.


  • Welcome two new AHA advocacy committee members – Doctors Patrick Hohl and John Hughes!  Patrick Hohl DO, MPH, is Chief Medical Resident at the University of Vermont / Fletcher Allen Health Care. John Hughes is a longtime anti-tobacco advocate, physician and researcher at UVM who has previously chaired Vermont’s Tobacco Evaluation and Review Board.

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Where did 2013 go?

Wow! Where did 2013 go? As we celebrate all we did this year, I find myself once again thinking about New Year resolutions.  The perennial favorites are there….eat better, get more exercise, save more money…but these goals are all centered on making my life better.  What if for 2014 we all put more focus on our community goals. Goals that will make life better not just for us, but for our communities as a whole

How about…

  • CPR as a Graduation Requirement
  • Policies fighting Childhood Obesity
  • Pulse Ox Screening for Every Newborn
  • Quality Daily Physical Education for all Students
  • Better Systems of Stroke Care
  • Improved AED Access

That’s just a few. We all live in different places and will have different goals, but we can make them all come true together.

Thank you for all that you do as a You’re the Cure advocate.  Without you we would never be making the progress we are against heart disease and stroke.

And I am excited to see what we can accomplish as a team in 2014!

Heart Disease and Stroke. You’re the Cure.

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