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Mass DOT Funds Complete Streets Program

We are excited to announce, after a few years of hard work, that Mass DOT will be making use of $12.5 million of transportation-dedicated funds to implement a new Complete Streets program to support cities and towns in the design and construction of roadways that accommodate all users and modes. The Complete Streets program will provide funding for both design and construction, which will allow us to both support those communities that may be challenged to provide design funds and help to create a pipeline of Complete Streets projects that will further our goals for providing more and better mobility options across the Commonwealth. Thanks to our dedicated advocates and partners who have been working to fund projects that that focuses on communities and roadway users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit so we could provide an opportunity for active transit for all, this funding will now make this a reality.

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My 'Why' - Kayla Bashe

Here's the latest blog post from our summer intern, Kayla Bashe -

During my gap year, I wanted to learn something useful, so I received training in first aid and CPR. Our instructor, a full-time EMT, told us about people whose lives could have been saved if only someone on the scene knew what to do, or about people who arrived at the hospital already dying because they hadn't known they were having a heart attack until it was too late. There was something incredibly empowering about receiving my little cardboard CPR certification card in the mail. I knew if I saw someone having a cardiac emergency, I would know what to do.

There's this saying that if you save someone's life, you save the entire world. Knowing that you're basically capable of doubling an entire world's chance of survival? There's nothing like it.

My father has been involved with the American Heart Association since I was an embryo. For a while, it was just 'That Thing My Dad Did', like watching cheesy comic-book movies or blasting religious techno music. But the more I learned about the AHA, the more I wanted to help. And when I realized I had a few free months during the summer, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

Recently, I helped out at the advocacy table at our gigantic, record-setting CPR event in Times Square. We had a huge variety of participants - every type of person from the Naked Cowboy and the owner of Marnie the Dog to a grandmother visiting from Australia and a seven-year-old girl in a Frozen T-shirt. So many of those people will probably go on to teach CPR to others. Some of them might even save lives.

Volunteering at the AHA is basically the gift that keeps on giving. I get to help write press releases that teach people about the signs of a stroke or heart attack and send letters to legislators explaining why CPR should be taught in New York City schools. Everything I do, sitting here at my laptop, ripples out to have an impact I can't even imagine. I guess you could say I 'heart' being involved with this organization.

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Study Brings Healthy Drink Changes to UVM

A study by UVM Professor Rachel Johnson has found that a ban on bottled water at the university has actually increased sugary drink purchases.

The ban was implemented in 2013 as a way to reduce pollution from plastic bottles. But it has had negative consequences according to the study. These include making students and faculty more likely to purchase sugary drinks when water isn’t available in vending machines, no reduction in the bottle waste and a significant increase in sugary drinks shipped to the campus.

Professor Johnson is an AHA volunteer who has championed the effort to decrease sugary drink consumption to lessen obesity. Though Johnson’s study found negative impacts from the ban, the release of the study has brought some positive changes to the school.

UVM is now requiring that at least half of drinks offered must have 40 calories or less. Drink dispensing machines will have water options added with free cups and the school will start monitoring the number of unhealthy vs. healthy drinks sold.

Read more about the study here. http://www.vtcynic.com/?p=11132

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Vermont Heart Walk to Highlight the Team Effort that Saved a Local Coach!

Vermont advocates pushed for passage of legislation in 2012 that required schools to teach students Hands-only CPR and the importance of an AED (automated external defibrillator). Its efforts like these that have raised awareness to the need for public access to defibrillation and a strong chain of survival. Many schools now have AEDs on hand, including at sporting events.

It’s a good thing. The American Heart Association’s Vermont Heart Walk on September 26th will highlight the successful effort that saved the life of Rice High School Girls’ Basketball Coach Tim Rice from a cardiac arrest during a game against CVU this winter. The CVU team had the foresight to bring their AED to the game with them. That AED, along with many quick actions from bystanders and EMS enabled the coach to give a thumbs up as he left the game instead of much worse outcome.

We’ll honor Cardiologist Ed Terrien, who performed CPR on Coach Rice that day. Join Dr. Terrien and hundreds of others walking at the Vermont Heart Walk at Oakledge Park in Burlington on September 26th to raise funds for life-saving research.

There will also be Heart Walks on September 12th in Swanton and September 19th in Berlin. You can register for any of the walks at www.vermontheartwalk.org. Do it today and make a commitment to save lives. Get your friends and family together for a great day and a great cause!

You can also ensure that your community and school have a strong chain of survival by contacting your local high school and asking if the school has an AED and making sure students are CPR-trained.

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Volunteer Peter Evans Found Writing a Letter Makes a Difference

As the old adage says, “It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.” Advocacy helps us to speak up and out about issues that are important to us.  The more we do, the more our message spreads. As volunteer Peter Evans found out during our sugary drink campaign, speaking up, even on paper, can have an impact.

Evans wrote a letter to his local paper the Brattleboro Reformer emphasizing the importance of passing an excise tax on sugary drinks that would reduce consumption of these drinks and help fight the obesity crisis.

"We have only a few real options," Evans wrote. "Continue on our current course and let the cost of obesity continue to spiral, or take tangible, evidence-based steps towards improving healthcare through policy and prevention."

The paper agreed and wrote an editorial supporting the effort, “Sugary Drinks: Tax the heck out of them.” You can read it here. http://www.reformer.com/opinion/ci_27585726/our-opinion-sugary-drinks-tax-heck-out-them  And Peter’s message spread to hundreds of Vermonters.

You too can be a catalyst for change. Though the sugary drink excise tax did not pass this year, obesity is still a crisis and sugary drink consumption is far too high. Help us continue to spread the word by writing a letter to your own newspaper. 

Tell them a new study by the University of North Carolina reported this month that sugary drink sales dropped 6% on average after a sugary drink excise tax was implemented in Mexico. We should give it a chance here. Click here for a list of Vermont newspapers and the emails where you can submit your letter.

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NYC Council Hearing on the PE Reporting Bill

Welcome another blog post from our summer intern, Kayla Bashe!

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This past week, the American Heart Association participated in a hearing for the PE Reporting bill in front of the NYC Council Committee on Education.

Just before the hearing began, we had a press conference on the steps of City Hall. The AHA and members of our Phys Ed for All coalition spoke about why city students need physical education. We care about kids' health and academic success.  And most schools in NYC aren't meeting the minimum standards for PE that are required by state law.

The American Heart Association was represented by Yuki Courtland, a member of our Advocacy Committee here in New York City.  Yuki had several opportunities throughout the day to address the impact that physical education can have on children's health and habits.

Inside, the City Council members heard from representatives of the NYC Department of Education, who spoke about their concerns in the bill. However, Council Member Dromm, a former teacher and Chair of the Education Committee, pointed out the discrepancies between their comments and the majority of collected research.

In one example from the testimony, an elementary school provided students with only one half-hour PE lesson per week.  And on that day, their teacher always noticed a huge improvement in their concentration and performance.

I learned that one of the biggest roadblocks to giving our city's students appropriate PE is that too many schools are forced to share the same areas, thereby making scheduling difficult. For example, six schools might have to use the same gym. Programs incorporating physical activity into classrooms can help bridge the gap, but to provide an effective solution, parents and advocacy groups need more and better information.

So before you switch off your computer and get moving, exercise your typing skills and make sure your city representatives support the PE reporting bill today!

Take action here:  http://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/composeletters.aspx?AlertID=36879 

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PE Reporting Bill Makes Progress!

Great news! New York City Council has scheduled a hearing for the PE Reporting Bill!

This long-awaited legislation will help to address a systemic concern in NYC schools - too few of them are meeting the state requirements for physical education.

According to American Heart Association research, the majority of city schools only offer PE one or two days per week in 45-minute sessions, which comes nowhere close to meeting recommended national guidelines.  Students deserve better, especially with their health on the line. That's why the PE Reporting Bill is needed.  It will require the NYC Education Department to disclose information on each school's PE program, allowing parents and groups like the AHA to know which schools may need additional assistance.

For many students, physical education is the best opportunity to pursue physical fitness. It shouldn't matter which school you attend - every student deserves quality PE. Physical education is the best equalizer - instilling a lifelong appreciation for exercise and healthy behavior. But many children are deprived of this valuable learning experience.  It is simply unfair that this inequity is permitted in our city schools!

The American Heart Association believes that healthy hearts are just as important as healthy minds, and we're optimistic that city lawmakers will agree.  Stay tuned for an action alert on this legislation in the next few days!

(This blog post was composed in part by Kayla Bashe, a new volunteer who will be helping the Advocacy Department in NYC this summer.  You'll see her name on our posts here occasionally.  Welcome, Kayla!)

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Federal Lobby Day: Step Up to the Plate

Recently, Greater Phoenix Division Board Member Dr. Adriana Perez, attended the American Heart Association’s Federal Lobby Day.  The theme for this event was “Step Up to the Plate.”  Dr. Perez, along with our Government Relations Director, Nicole Olmstead, met with staff from both Senator Flake and Senator McCain’s Office, as well as staff from Representative Sinema and Salmon’s Office.  The highlight of the trip was the meeting with Representative Raul Grijalva. 

Dr. Perez advocated on behalf of the AHA for increased support of NIH Research funding, especially around heart disease and stroke research, and also emphasized the need to reauthorize the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act in its entirety.  During the event, Ms. Olmstead, Dr. Perez and the other nearly 400 volunteers enjoyed a heart healthy school lunch to support how easy and tasty it is to stick to the school lunch guidelines.  Dr. Perez was a strong voice for the needs of all Arizonans and we would like to thank her for her support.

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Shrimp Tacos - Delicious Decisions

Cooking at home more often is a great way to start changing your relationship with salt. Meals on the go can be hard on your heart, because many prepared foods and restaurant foods are loaded with sodium. And did you know that meals away from home account for nearly half the money Americans spend on food?

Eating healthier (and saving money as an added bonus) isn’t as hard as you might think. This summer, try our recipe for Heart Healthy Shrimp Tacos below. 

Serves 4, has roughly 206 calories and 308 mg of sodium per serving.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of fat-free sour cream
  • 2 tbsp. snipped, fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp. canola or corn oil
  • 13-14 oz. peeled, raw shrimp, rinsed, patted dry
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 2 tbsp. sliced black olives

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and cilantro. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Add the shrimp to the pan.
  3. Sprinkle the chili powder and cumin on the shrimp. Sprinkle with the garlic. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes if using large shrimp, or 2 to 3 minutes if using small, or until the shrimp are pink on the outside, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
  4. Using the package directions, warm the tortillas.
  5. Put the tortillas on a flat surface. Sprinkle with the lettuce, tomato, and olives. Spoon the sour cream mixture on each. Top with the shrimp. Fold 2 opposite sides of the tortilla toward the center. If you prefer a dramatic presentation instead, place 2 unfolded tacos side by side on a dinner plate. Fold each in half. Push a 6-inch wooden skewer through both tacos near the tops to hold them together. Repeat with the remaining tacos. Your family will be able to remove the skewers easily before eating the tacos.

Nutrition Tip: Shrimp are relatively high in cholesterol, but they are also very low in harmful saturated fat. Even if you're watching your cholesterol, you can still occasionally enjoy shellfish, including shrimp, as part of a balanced diet.

Click here for more low-sodium recipes.

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Join us as we rev up F. A. S. T!

With strokes affecting thousands of Americans every day, we’d like to invite you to join us as we rev up awareness about this medical condition. To help with that, today we’d like to share some startling statistics with you:

· 2,150 Americans die each day from Stroke and Heart disease.
· About one person dies from stroke every 40 seconds
· Stroke is the No. 5 killer of all Americans
· Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability among Americans

We’d also like to invite you to watch an exciting video about F.A.S.T. - and ask you to also win the gold by sharing the link with at least 10 of your friends. Whether through Twitter or Facebook, emails or instant messages – this video has some great information about the campaign, and we hope you’ll race our other advocates in spreading the word.

We’d like to spread the word about F.A.S.T. with at least 2,150 Americans across the country, and we sincerely appreciate your help in getting us to the finish line!

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