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Lobby Day MVPs in the Spotlight

There were SO many amazing stories surrounding this year’s Hill Day that it was hard to narrow down our annual lobby day award winners. Not a bad problem to have! Please join us in congratulating these You’re the Cure MVPs, and then learn more about their stories in this video.

 

  • Science Advocate of the year – Dr. David Yu-Yiao Huang: Dr. Huang has been involved with AHA advocacy since 2003. From submitting expert written testimony and attending in-district meetings, to speaking before lawmakers, his passion for policy and his belief in the positive change policy can achieve has contributed significantly to big wins in North Carolina.
  • Volunteer Advocate of the Year – Theresa Conejo: Theresa has been one of the key proponents of Pennsylvania’s comprehensive smoke-free law. Last year, she signed a smoke-free op-ed which was picked up by major news outlets across the state. She also aggressively advocated for the proposed Clean Indoor Law. In addition, she recruits new You’re the Cure advocates at every opportunity. In fact, just recently, she signed up an additional 35 volunteers to join her in Pennsylvania’s smoke-free fight.
  • Survivor Advocate of the Year – Jim Bischoff: Jim’s own struggle with heart disease, as well as his experience with his son-in-law’s stroke, gives him a unique perspective to share during state and federal lobby days and meetings with lawmakers. His family history inspired him to provide leadership on stroke systems of care legislation. He also dedicates his time to tobacco issues, and attends in-district meetings with his lawmaker to discuss both of these important issues.
  • Youth Advocate of the Year – Cassidy Collins: Cassidy uses her story as a congenital heart survivor to illustrate the importance of AHA’s policy issues. At the age of 16, her resume is already quite impressive – she’s met with U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin to advocate for tobacco control funding; she has been a top fundraiser for the Roanoke Heart Walk for two years; and she has applied to work as a youth advocate for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Check out a video highlighting our award winners below!

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How to Keep the Winning Game Going

You're the Cure on the Hill isn’t the only opportunity to connect with members of Congress! As their constituents, you have the power and the RIGHT to tell them at any time to step up to the plate on the heart and stroke issues you care about most.


Here are some tips for getting your lawmaker off the bench and into the game:

 

  • Follow them on social media and send them messages on issues you care about.
  • Sign up for their e-newsletters on their websites. This is a great way to learn about events where you can meet the lawmakers in person and stay informed.
  • Work with your local AHA advocacy staff to schedule an in-district meeting. Members of Congress come home throughout the year on recess breaks, so they use this time to meet with constituents back in the district. Take advantage of their time at home and schedule a meeting to discuss the heart and stroke issues that matter to you and your family.
  • Most importantly, take action year round. Watch your inbox for calls to action from You’re the Cure and continue engaging your lawmaker through emails, phone calls and tagging them in your social media posts.

We had a real impact this week, but we need to keep the momentum going. Let's keep reminding our members of Congress that they need to step up for heart health all year round!

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May is American Stroke Month

Anyone can have a stroke and everyone should be ready.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke and every 4 minutes, someone dies from a stroke. That is why The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is inviting all Americans to become Stroke Heroes by learning and sharing the warning signs of stroke, F.A.ST. (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1).

Recognizing and responding to a stroke emergency immediately can lead to quick stroke treatment and may even save a life. Be ready!

Here is how you can participate in American Stroke Month

  • Share the F.A.S.T. acronym with your friends, family and loved ones throughout American Stroke Month.
  • Share our F.A.S.T. Quiz to test your stroke knowledge.
  • Download our free Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T. mobile app to prepare you in case of a stroke emergency and to have easy access.

Go to StrokeAssociation.org/StrokeMonth to learn more about how you can get involved.

 

 

 

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Making Schools Nutritional Safe Zones

The Committee on Children recently voted in support of legislation ensuring the food marketing that is shown in schools is aligned with the National School Lunch Program. The American Heart Association believes if schools cannot serve a particular unhealthy food item in school the food industry should not be allowed to market the unhealthy food item to students in school. This legislation is building upon the achievements the State of Connecticut has made in making sure our school children are offered healthy foods in schools and that students are learning lifelong lessons on the importance of eating healthy. School aged children are already being bombarded by the food industry to consume unhealthy foods in aggressive marketing campaigns. This legislation will reinforce the efforts by the American Heart Association to make the schools nutritional safe zones.

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Public Health Passes CPR in Schools

The Public Health Committee recently voted out a bill requiring high school students learn Hands-Only CPR and AED awareness before graduating. There was overwhelming support for the legislation and committee members spoke glowingly about the bill during the comment period before the vote. This was a great victory for the American Heart Association volunteers who testified at the Public Hearing. The Bill has picked number of cosponsors since the public hearing, currently the number stands at thirteen, including newly elected State Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. The next step for the bill is a vote in the Education Committee. American Heart Association volunteers have been reaching out to to the members on the Education Committee to ensure the CPR in Schools Bill successfully moves out of the committee. There are currently 21 states that require high school students learn CPR before graduating, and Connecticut is on track to become the 22nd state to have students learn the lifesaving skill.

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Sugary Drink Tax Passes Legislative First Hurdle

The General Assembly’s Committee on Children voted on a bill that would place a 1 cent per ounce excise tax on sugary drinks and use the dollars raised to fund childhood obesity prevention initiatives.

Sugary drinks are staples of today’s American diet.  These beverages are inexpensive, abundant, high in calories, and deliver little or no nutrition. They are heavily marketed, especially to children.  

More than any other food category, scientific studies have shown that consumption of sugary drinks contributes to poor diet, and risk for obesity, diabetes and a number of other serious health problems.

A sugary drink excise tax coupled with childhood obesity prevention funding are critical strategies that could reduce childhood obesity rates and improve the health of not only children, but the health of Connecticut’s residents who are overweight or obese.

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AHA Advocates Testify At CPR in Schools Public Hearing.

American Heart Association (AHA) volunteers from around the state traveled to Hartford to testify at the Connecticut Public Health Committee hearing to support a bill requiring Connecticut high school students learn hands-only CPR prior to graduation.

Seven volunteers attended, including Leigh Pechillo, a mother from Southington; Valerie Cassidy, registered nurse and paramedic from Norwich; and Norwalk High School senior Mahika Jhangiani.

Pechillo told the Public Health Committee members how she survived a massive heart attack only because of the fast actions of her husband who performed CPR on her after her daughter found her on the bathroom floor. 

Cassidy, who teaches Hands-Only CPR to freshman students at Hartford Public High School’s Nursing Academy, told the committee members that her goal is to train 150 students and she hoped the committee would support Senate Bill 684 requiring all high school students receive CPR training.

“I was glad to take a day to testify in Hartford for this life-saving legislation. We are all part of the Chain of Survival when it comes to cardiac arrest. Connecticut will be a safer place to live when we pass this bill,” said Cassidy.

Norwalk High School senior Mahika Jhangiani also testified at the hearing. Jhangiani has been giving CPR trainings at several Norwalk schools as part of her high school independent study project.

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Kelly Trenholm, Connecticut

The American Heart Association holds a special place in my heart. Like so many others, I have experienced firsthand the effects of heart disease in my family. Watching my beloved grandmother live with the symptoms of congestive heart failure on a day to day basis was extremely difficult for me & my family. This experience ultimately lead me to become involved with the work of the American Heart Association and conducting fund raising events in my grandmother’s memory to help educate the public and be part of the solution.

Having worked with children from a young age, I chose a path to become a health and physical education teacher. I try to lead by example and am a strong advocate of leading a healthy lifestyle.  When I was presented with the opportunity to implement and spearhead the American Heart Association’s Hoops for Heart program in my school, I enthusiastically accepted the challenge of being a champion of the important works of the American Heart Association.

Over the years it has brought me great joy to watch first hand hundreds of my students support the mission to make a difference in the lives of others by raising thousands of dollars. Not only have the students enjoyed accepting and making a difference for Heart Health by raising funds, but more importantly one of their favorite lessons in our Health Curriculum is when they learn how to administer CPR and use an AED machine to aid a person who may be in distress. They know this is a valuable lesson, as they may be the first responder in a cardiovascular situation at any given time. This responsibility is important to them and I feel extremely fortunate to be able to teach this critical life-saving lesson.

It is extremely gratifying to know that the members of our community are more likely to survive a cardiovascular emergency because of the experience these students have received in my classroom. I am honored to have been offered a position on our local Board of Directors to continue to advocate for such important legislation and to make the state of Connecticut a heart healthy and safe community. One of the best ways that I feel that I can personally contribute to that mission is to continue to educate my students, my colleagues, my friends & family to raise their own voice and spread the importance of living a heart healthy life and I believe it all begins with education.

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CT AHA Board engaged in a letter writing campaign to State Legislators Promoting CPR in Schools

At the most recent Connecticut American Heart Association boarding meeting, hosted by Griffin Hospital in Derby, board members reported on the progress of their letter writing campaign to state legislators. Board members wrote to their local state representatives and state senators asking for support to pass legislation requiring High School students learn hands only CPR and the use of automated external defibrillator (AED). Initial results of the campaign saw the recruitment of four additional co-sponsors for a CPR in Schools bill working its way through the legislative session. More legislators are expected to voice their support for this lifesaving initiative as board members continue to advocate for lifesaving policy.

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Healthy Food Marketing in Schools is in Play this Legislative Session

The Children’s Committee of the General Assembly took the first step in ensuring schools are nutritional safe zones and students are not targeted by the food industry in unhealthy food marketing campaigns based in the school environment.  Parents know from experience that food ads and marketing affect not only which foods their children ask them to purchase, but also which foods their kids are willing to eat. This session AHA is working with a broad coalition to pass legislation making certain that only foods that kids can eat in schools, can be marketed in schools. The food industry targets schools to market products that cannot be sold in schools. This practice undermines the new USDA Smart Snack nutrition standards. The legislation proposed in the Children’s Committee will address this unhealthy practice. 

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