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Thank You for Everything You Do!

It’s National Volunteer Appreciation Week this week (April 12 – 16) – and with that thought on our minds, we wanted to tell you how much we appreciate you, and all that you do for You’re the Cure initiatives all across the East Coast.

We appreciate every single alert response, every call, every visit you have made to your lawmakers and elected officials. We appreciate you joining us in conference rooms across our division as we train you on different state policies and how to be an engaged advocate. We appreciate those who serve on our Advocacy Committees, putting in long hours in meetings and on calls as you help us shape our grassroots plans.

We appreciate you, and we appreciate your time and all you do as a partner of the American Heart Association. In case you ever forget, every little thing – both large and small – makes a difference!

Every Little Thing you do

as a You’re the Cure advocate helps,

and we appreciate you!

 THANK YOU for all you do.

Just a note: If you haven't joined our advocacy network yet, it's never too late! Just visit us at www.yourethecure.org and become a You're the Cure member. It only takes a few moments to sign up, but you'll help make a difference that will last through the years!

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We Haven't Given Up on Healthy Utah

Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Utah Government Relations Director 

The 2015 Legislative Session has finally come to end and while there are important issues that have yet to be resolved, we can be proud of the efforts we have engaged in and the results we were able to see.

Top of mind for many people the past few months has been the status of Healthy Utah. In the years I have spent following and being a part of the political scene here in Utah I have never witnessed a more important – yet politically galvanizing – issue as this. And while the result at the end of session was not what any of us were hoping for (nothing was passed) the important thing is that this issue is far from over. As long as the “coverage gap” continues to exist there will be a need to help those who most need affordable access to healthcare.

Over the next 4 months a group comprised of Governor Herbert, Lt. Governor Cox, Senate President Niederhauser, Speaker Hughes, Senator Shiozawa, and Representative Dunnigan will hammer out the details of a compromise that will address the “coverage gap” here in Utah. I am hopeful that by the end of this summer we will have a bill passed by the legislature that finds the delicate balance between providing for those Utahns who are in need while ensuring that our financial obligations are taken care of now and into the future.

A bright spot this legislative session was a bill that we hadn’t reported on before. Early in the session Senator Vickers proposed and ultimately passed legislation that dealt with the construction of new schools here in the state. I was drawn to this legislation in light of the work we have been doing with UDOT’s Safe Routes to School program. They indicated that they receive many applications each year from schools asking for financial help with infrastructure projects around their schools (sidewalks, crosswalks, safety zones, etc.).

A surprisingly large amount of these applications actually come from newer schools because they had failed to adequately prepare for the pedestrian traffic coming in and out of the schools and surrounding neighborhoods. The legislation passed by Senator Vickers ensures that all proposed school construction projects must plan for pedestrian traffic around these schools before they open their doors on the first day of school. Our hope is that the pre-construction planning will ensure new schools are built with the school child in mind – both in the classroom and as they travel to and from school each day!

Lastly, but certainly not least is an update on E-cigarette legislation we have been working with Representative Paul Ray on for the past few years. I am happy to announce that after years of working on this issue the state legislature unanimously passed legislation that ensures that e-cigarettes are now treated like other tobacco products here in the state. That means that those that create and/or sell e-cigarettes will now have to obtain a tobacco license. This will ensure that existing laws regarding youth access will be better enforced and will also ensure that manufactures and retailers meet high quality control standards for how these products are made and where they are sold. The ultimate aim of this legislation was to ensure that Utah’s existing laws restricting these products from minors was strengthened. I am happy to announce that this legislation met that goal!

I express my sincerest thanks to those of you who have helped us in our advocacy efforts this session and throughout the years. With your help we are well on our way toward our 2020 goal of improving the health of all Americans by 20% while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20%. As always, for heart disease and stroke in the state of Utah, You’re the Cure!

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If You Build It, They Will Come: Relationships with Lawmakers

There’s a saying often used when referencing the act of sales which can also be applied to advocacy: It all comes down to relationships.

As an advocate, building relationships with elected officials is the number one way you can ensure that lawmakers across your state are educated on the issues most important to you. You’re the Cure advocates are given opportunities to strengthen their skills at building relationships with decision makers through the various advocacy activities offered while promoting AHA’s policy goals.

One key to building relationships with legislators is to understand their preferred method of receiving information. What are the best ways to reach out to them, communicate with them, and follow up with them? Sometimes, the timing of communication can be one of the more important variables. VA Delegate Christopher Peace [R – New Kent] suggests that getting in touch with him at his local office is best: "Usually, setting a meeting in my Mechanicsville District Office prior to session sets a more relaxed environment in which a citizen advocate may express to me their thoughts on issues of importance to them and about legislative matters that may arise during the impending session."

Not sure what your legislator prefers? Make a call to their legislative assistant—not only will they be able to direct you, but developing a relationship with this "gatekeeper" can also help you form a better relationship with your lawmaker!

Additionally, sometimes your elected officials will be the ones to reach out to you directly.  NC Representative Becky Carney [D-Mecklenburg] said that in her opinion, the best way to communicate with her constituents is for them to "set up a meeting to talk about the issues that people have, or their concerns.  I prefer talking with people – communicating with me through email is a great way, [including] phone numbers so that I can call them back. Personal dialogue is sometimes better than written dialogue."

Your legislators know that advocates are vital for them to keep a finger on the pulse of their communities back home.

Councilmember-At-Large David Grosso [I-District of Columbia] shared his perspective: "Advocates are a major driving force in the legislative process. They are boots on the ground and know intricately those issues that impact different populations and communities. I want to know what their specific concerns are. As a member of the legislative body, sometimes we have a 30,000 ft. view of issues, but the advocates help us to focus on the nuance and intricacies of various matters. Having that perspective is invaluable because it enables us to tailor laws and regulations to the specific needs of the communities that we serve. Through our relationship with advocates, we are able to identify the areas where we can have the greatest impact, ensuring that we are serving a wide demographic in the most effective and efficient ways possible."

Through the voice of their constituents, elected officials are in a much better position to stay updated with a focused view of what's happening in their communities.

From DC, Maryland, Virginia, and into the Carolinas, our legislative bodies may look different; however, at the end of the day we are all people, one and the same. Our elected officials have important jobs where they represent us by making decisions that ultimately affect our daily life – but their main focus is their constituents.

If you’re up to it today, we would like to challenge you to use this information and take action. Send an email, make a phone call, or schedule a time to meet with your legislator today! Your elected officials are ready and willing to get to know you and what is important to you and your community!

A special thanks to Councilmember-At-Large Grosso [I-District of Columbia], VA Delegate Christopher Peace [R – New Kent], and NC Representative Becky Carney [D-Mecklenburg] for their contributions to this piece.

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Carla Leonard Has a Second Chance...

Thanks to Louis' Law, Carla Leonard is alive and can watch her daughter grow.

As a school crisis intervention aid, Carla  had grown to hate one part of her morning routine: bumping her head on the AED situated right near her desk.   Ironically, CPR and that AED saved her life.  She was 43 when she went into sudden cardiac arrest during the morning pledge.  The school nurse quickly started CPR and used the AED.  This gave Carla  a fighting chance at survival until EMTs arrived.

Carla knows she is one of the lucky ones.   About 90% of sudden cardiac arrest victims do NOT survive.  As a survivor, Carla is now doing everything she can to help change this grim statistic.  New York put safety put by requiring schools to have AEDs.    Now, Carla has personally contacted each member of the Board of Regents to urge them to take the next step -  to require CPR and AED instruction for students.

We're getting closer...will you join Carla by contacting the Board of Regents today? 

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Over 38,000 in New Hampshire May Lose Access to Healthcare

New Hampshire recently received approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to expand access to healthcare coverage for hard-working uninsured adults, through a premium assistance program. This program enabled over 38,000 Granite Staters to enroll in private health plans offered through the NH Marketplace, with the premiums paid for with federal Medicaid funds. As a result, thousands who previously could not afford the high cost of health insurance, have gained access to preventive services and cost-effective treatment for heart disease and stroke related illness. Since coverage was extended, the NH Hospital Association found a 17% decrease in emergency room use among the uninsured! If NH does not continue funding this critical health program for the next two years, these same individuals risk having to fall back to foregoing preventive care and going to their hospital ER for illnesses that could otherwise be avoided. You’re The Cure advocates are urged to stay in contact with legislators until funding is secured to continue the NH Health Protection Program.

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AmandaJean Beaulieu Speaks on Capitol Steps in D.C.!

One of our top advocacy volunteers and stroke survivor, AmandaJean Beaulieu spoke at U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's press conference on the Capitol Steps in D.C. yesterday morning in honor of the 5th Anniversery of the signing of the Affordable Care Act!

Here is a link to AmandaJean’s full remarks that she delivered during the event!

Learn more about AmandaJean's story HERE

 

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Update on the Legislative Session

Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Utah Government Relations Director

We are in the final stretch of the Utah State Legislative Session and things really look to be heating up! What will be the final fate SB 164 “Healthy Utah”? Are e-cigarettes finally going to be treated like all other tobacco products?

While we won’t know the answers to these questions until next week, I’d like to take a step back and congratulate our many volunteers for their efforts at our recent “Heart on the Hill” Lobby Day!

My sincerest thanks to all those that were able to attend and to IASIS Healthcare for their sponsorship! This year IASIS provided health screenings to legislators and the public as well as lunch for our volunteers and the legislature. During our training session our volunteers had an opportunity to hear from a diverse range of speakers who are local experts in their related fields including:

  • Dave Gessel from the Utah Hospitals Association who shared his emotional story of witnessing his own mother suffer a stroke. Dave was fortunate to be in a position to recognize her symptoms and get her to the hospital in time. Our thanks to the UHA for their ongoing efforts to ensure that stroke treatment in Utah continues to be the very best. We look forward to working with them and the Department of Health in the coming months to see that Acute Stroke Ready Hospitals receive state recognition.
  • Tim Best from Davis School District who taught us about their innovative approach with “Healthy Bodies – Healthy Minds.” This program enhances children’s learning as teachers utilize physical activity through their lessons. Results from pilot schools have shown an amazing increase in student health and test scores as well as improved student behavior and less absences!
  • Representative Raul Ray joined us to discuss his tie to the American Heart Association. He was born with severe congenital heart defects. He also explained his fight against tobacco use in our youth and his efforts this year to ensure that e-cigarettes stay out of schools and are treated as other tobacco products.
  • Professor Chaney and some of his BYU Students presented on their work on Safe Routes to School. They have been working with a number of elementary schools throughout Utah County to identify problematic areas around schools that might put children at risk as they travel to and from school. You can follow their social media efforts by following #SafeRoutesUT. Special thanks to Benji Lambson, Kaylee Banner, Danny Doria, Maranda Christiansen, Kelsey Hamstead, Rachel Harris, Josinah Gachia for their efforts.
  • Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox joined us to present on the Governor’s “Healthy Utah” plan. He spoke with our volunteers about the importance of engaging our legislators and letting them know how we feel about this issue as their constituents. In light of recent actions by the State House of Representatives in voting down the "Healthy Utah 2.0" plan passed by the State Senate, this truly underscores the need for all of us to get involved! For more on how you can help with this effort, please visit our You’re the Cure Action Page.
  • Dr. Ben Schmidt is an Emergency Physician from IASIS Health Care’s Salt Lake Regional Hospital. He shared first-hand accounts of individuals performing CPR and the success that comes from bystanders administering it right away. This work truly saves lives and underscores the importance of our efforts to help all people learn CPR.
  • We recognized Linda Mayne and Cybil Prideaux as our Volunteers of the Year for 2015. Linda and Cybil both work for the Utah State Office of Education and have been very instrumental in the success of rolling out our CPR in Schools efforts! Please reach out to your local High School to make sure they are participating in this core curriculum training.
  • Lastly, Speaker Greg Hughes joined us to share some of his best tips on how to be effective citizen lobbyists. His number one takeaway was the importance of developing relationships with our legislators - and not just during the legislative session.

My thanks again for all who were able to attend! Thank you all for your efforts to drive our life-saving mission forward.

*Note: This was submitted before the end of the legislative session. Check back next month for a full review of the final status on these and other issues.

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Seventy Percent of NC Voters Support Funding a Healthy Corner Store Initiative

On February 24, the NC Alliance for Health (North Carolina’s statewide coalition working on obesity and tobacco use prevention) released a statewide survey that shows that North Carolina registered voters (70 percent) support the creation of a Healthy Corner Store Initiative as a way of tackling the state’s childhood obesity epidemic. Additionally, a similar majority says that state and local governments should provide training and incentives to encourage neighborhood stores, where people often shop for groceries, to stock healthy foods.

"According to this poll, North Carolinians view unhealthy eating and childhood obesity as the most serious problems facing children in the United States, above physical activity, quality of education, and children not spending enough time outdoors," said Sarah Jacobson, Healthy Food Access Coordinator for the North Carolina Alliance for Health (NCAH) and You’re the Cure advocate. "This clearly demonstrates that it is time to stop talking about this issue and start doing something about it," she said.

"Programs such as a Healthy Corner Store Initiative and Healthy Food Financing improve availability, affordability and accessibility of healthy foods at food retailers within areas of poor food access. This approach would not only remove a barrier to healthy eating, but also create new business opportunities. If the focus also includes healthy foods grown and/or produced in North Carolina, the state could realize a triple win in terms of health, economic growth and community revitalization," said Jacobson.

The poll also found:

· More than 90 percent of registered North Carolina voters recognize childhood obesity and unhealthy eating as a serious problem
· Seventy-six percent of registered North Carolina voters favor state and local governments providing training and incentives to encourage corner store owners to stock and sell more healthy foods and beverages
· One half (50 percent) of registered voters view access to grocery stores in low to moderate income areas in both urban and rural communities as a serious or somewhat serious problem
· The fact that healthy foods are not affordable was identified as the most significant barrier to improving access to healthy foods in both urban and rural areas
· Lack of nutritional education and poor economic conditions were identified as significant barriers to healthy eating

Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, certain kinds of cancer, obesity and diet-related diseases disproportionately impact communities without access to healthy foods. People living in such communities—known as food deserts—often shop for food at corner stores, which commonly sell highly processed foods that are high in fat and low in nutrients. In fact, youth who live near convenience stores have higher Body Mass Indices (BMIs) and consume more sugary drinks than their peers who live closer to full-service grocery stores. Additionally, one study published in Pediatrics showed that more than 40 percent of elementary school students shopped at a corner store twice daily, often purchasing chips, candy, and soda.

"I was particularly pleased that once those being polled learned more about the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, the support level jumped to 76 percent. This clearly shows North Carolinians are ready for action," said Jacobson.

The American Heart Association is working with the NC Alliance for Health to promote a healthy corner store statewide initiative.

For more information about the poll:

o Poll  Executive Summary

o Poll information packet

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Juddson Rupp

Juddson Rupp, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

I didn’t remember anything from my week in the hospital, but when a friend brought in a copy of the six o’clock news from October 27, 2000 I quickly realized that either that was a slow news day or that I was one lucky miracle survivor with an important story to share.

"Being at the right place at the right time and near the right equipment may have been a real life saver for a man working out at the YMCA,” the TV anchor began. Her co-anchor added, "Judd Rupp, not your typical heart attack victim - he's in his 30's and was at the gym.  Thanks to some people who knew exactly what to do, he's alive today."

Reporter Steve Litz brought the story to a close saying: "Two important notes to add- It was difficult identifying Judd Rupp as he was not wearing any kind of I.D.  Everything worked in Rupp's favor at the YMCA because so many know CPR there.  Another note, Juddson Rupp is an employee here at WSOC-TV.  We all wish him well in his recovery."

After getting choked up watching news clips like the one above a decade ago, I knew that internally and externally my life had changed.  I could no longer be a just a private citizen.   I had to share my story publicly for several reasons.  I now strongly believe that being and advocate and sharing your story is an important duty as a survivor.

The American Heart Association approached me to ask if they could use my story for the upcoming Heart Ball.  The Marketing Director told me that sharing my story could help save hundreds, if not thousands of lives through the years.  Then the publicity became a 'no-brainer' for me.  Why wouldn't I help save others by informing people to learn CPR or by encouraging them to purchase AED's and stop cardiovascular disease with added research and funding?

After the initial Heart Ball work in 2001, I was asked to be in a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that ran on Charlotte TV stations and throughout the Carolinas in a commercial also featuring my wife and two children urging people to 'Learn CPR...it can save lives!'  I became the poster boy for the American Heart Association, as my wife had joked.  She also knew that I was honored to do this and practically anything to help AHA grow its cause...and be the cure.

My volunteer time and work became even more empowering after meeting Betsy Vetter in 2004.  She asked me to join You’re the Cure, and become an advocate for AHA.  My initial role had me traveling to Washington, DC and visiting with Federal Legislators on Capitol Hill.  I am proud to say that I have not missed an AHA Federal Lobby Day since.

Since then I have held multiple roles including communications/media chair for the NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Committee, a member of the AHA Charlotte Mission Committee, and co-chair of the Smoke-free Mecklenburg Advocacy Committee. I have also been active with Emergency Cardiovascular Care and the Heart Ball, and attended numerous state lobby days at the General Assembly in Raleigh where I share my personal experience with state lawmakers to help them better understand the importance of supporting strong public health policies.

Speaking with countless legislators and their staff to put a face on heart disease, and fight for so many who are not with us anymore is the most empowering reason I do this.  

*On December 14, 2013 Juddson was the recipient of the 2013 Dr. Robert Blackburn Award for Advocacy Excellence which honored all of his advocacy work at the American Heart Association.

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