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Rhonda Briggins, Georgia Advocacy Chair

Rhonda Briggins, J.D. GA

Rhonda Briggins, J.D. dedicates her life to public service through her role as a community advocate, political strategist and servant leader. She serves on various boards of directors such as the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, Vote Run Lead, DeKalb Workforce Development, and DeKalb Housing Authority Advisory Committee.  She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and she is the Regional Social Action Coordinator for the Southern Region which includes Alabama, Bahamas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee.  She also a member of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. and is the Georgia Legislative Chair.  

Leadership development is a great passion of hers.  She has developed, marketed and implemented numerous workshops for elected officials, corporate offices, non-profit organizations, businesses and schools in this area. Her expertise and understanding of politics and political trends makes a valuable resource to many elected officials, company executives, employees interested in enhancing their skills. She is often sought after as a keynote speaker and workshop leader. To date, she has taught and trained thousands in the areas of political strategy, communications, public involvement fundraising, and base building. 

Rhonda brings over a decade of experience in advocacy and public policy.  She is currently the Senior Director of External Affairs for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA).  She oversees Community Relations and Government Affairs (federal, state and local) for the Authority.  Over the last two years, she has worked with the Georgia General Assembly to pass major transportation legislations for the state of Georgia and MARTA amounting in over $1billion dollars for the agencies.

She has a Juris Doctor from Jones School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Law and Society from Georgia State University.  She resides in Tucker, Georgia with her son, Kai.

Join us in welcoming Rhonda to the team!

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New Stroke Guidelines Will Change Stroke Treatment in the U.S

Each year, more than 690,000 Americans have strokes caused by blood clots blocking vessels in the brain, called ischemic strokes. Some of the clots can grow large and may require intense therapy to treat.

However, widely celebrated new research reaffirms that large blood clots in the brain are less likely to result in disability or death, if the blockage is removed in the crucial early hours of having a stroke.

Right now the standard treatment is a clot-dissolving drug called tPA. But it must be given intravenously within 4.5 hours to be effective. For people with larger brain clots, tPA only works about a third of the time.

New studies recommend doctors to use modernized -retrievable stents, to open and trap the clot, allowing doctors to extract the clot and reopen the artery nearly every time when used with tPA.

To learn more read “Clot Removing Devices Provide Better Outcomes for Stroke Patients” and visit StrokeAssociation.org to learn the warning signs of stroke.

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AHA, Aramark join on meals initiative

Aramark, the largest U.S.-based food service provider, has joined with the American Heart Association on a five-year initiative to make the meals it serves healthier. Changes will impact more than 2 billion meals served each year at schools, businesses, sports venues and elsewhere.

The initiative, called Healthy for Life 20 by 20, will implement a 20 percent reduction in calories, saturated fat and sodium and a 20 percent increase in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

“Experts have estimated that if the American public increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables to meet current public health recommendations, 127,000 lives could be saved each year,” said Al Royse, chairman of the AHA. “It’s essential that we make healthier options more easily available to consumers and empower them to choose these options for themselves and their families.”

Read the rest of the article on blog.heart.org.

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Have you checked out the AHA store lately?

T-shirts, measuring bowls, jewelry and everything in between. This summer you can “Shop Heart” choose the best of AHA swag like cookbooks, apparel, and accessories.

You can help spread our message of heart health when you wear an American Heart Association t-shirt, jacket, lapel pin, or tie. In addition to great gear we also stock educational materials so you can share important heart and stroke prevention advice with family and friends. Best of all when you "Shop Heart" money spent supports the mission of the American Heart Association.

Check out the latest merchandise in the store and show your support for the AHA today. 

P.S.  – There is a limited edition You’re the Cure T-shirt in the store. But hurry, only a couple dozen remain!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Carlin Breinig, Georgia

Carlin Breinig, GA

The American Heart Association continues to advocate for the strong school nutrition standards that are part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.


In December 2010, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which gave the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the authority to update national nutrition standards for school meals and for other foods sold in schools throughout the school day. School meals were updated to include more whole grains and fruits and vegetables and to limit sodium, saturated fat and trans fats. The law also has had numerous other positive effects on school nutrition and health, such as strengthening local wellness policies and updating nutrition standards for foods sold on the school campus (outside of the meal program) throughout the day.

This issue of child nutrition is important to Carlin. “I've been a personal chef since 1998. When I first started my business, my customers were mostly busy people who needed help with meals. This has changed over the years. More recently, requests have been from people who are also busy but have been diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol and now have to change the way they eat."

I have been involved with Chefs Move to Schools since its inception and have worked to change school food to be more appealing while following the standards. Also in 2014, I became a trainer for The Institute of Child Nutrition formerly known as NFSMI (National Food Service Management Institute). I am teaching:

  • Healthy Cuisine for Kids
  • Practical Skills for Preparing Quality Meals
  • Food Safety

I teach food service professionals in the schools, because students have to eat the school meals in order to benefit from them.  I know that for some children, the meals at school could be the only meals they get during a day. So their meals need to be nutritious and delicious so they are consumed.


Carlin says, "I support the American Health Association because of their educational programs and the proactive approach they take. I am very interested in the school nutrition standards because I believe change can start with young people."

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Georgia Students Dine with First Lady

To help Georgia combat its childhood obesity crisis, school nutrition directors like Dr. Linette Dodson with Carrollton City Schools are offering students innovative, healthy and delicious meals.

Two incoming seventh graders at Carrollton City Schools are such advocates for school nutrition that they recently were selected as part of the Let's Move Initiative to testify at a Congressional briefing for the Salad Bars in Schools Expansion Act. Following the briefing, they assisted White House chefs with lunch preparation and joined First Lady Michelle Obama for lunch.

Read more at The Carrollton Menu.

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Alyson Whitaker, Georgia

Over the past five years, we have gained new sponsors and some have been with us the whole time, helping Alyson to reach her goal each year by participating in Jump Rope For Heart. As you may know Alyson does Jump Rope For Heart not only because she herself is a heart patient, but to honor her little brother Cole. With contributions from her sponsors no matter how big or small we know they have helped to save a life like Alyson and Cole. We have so much gratitude for each of her sponsors and could never say thank you enough.

We lost Cole on August 14, 2010 from Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and Total Pulmonary Venus Return; he only lived for -nine short days. As times change so does medical technology. With each donation received we know it helps to advance technology so other parents and siblings will not have to suffer the loss of their child or brother/sister from a congenital heart defect like Cole. Each year, our little nine year-old miracle Alyson, gives back by participating in Jump Rope For Heart, she says, "This is just a small thing I can do to honor my little brother and other children like him and me."

To date, Alyson has raised a total of $6,979 for Jump Rope For Heart and she refuses the gifts offered for her for fundraising. Each year she not only wins the honor of raising the most money for her school in Locust Grove, but for Henry County. Next year Alyson has set her goal high. She wants to be able to raise the most money for the state of Georgia. To Alyson this is not a competition but an honor for her to be as young as she is and to be able to say, “I made a difference in a heart patient's life.” Plus, she is helping to save someone like her brother Cole who wasn't given an opportunity at a long life. 

Read more about Alyson's story here on YouretheCure.org.

-Written by Alyson's mother, You're the Cure advocate Paula Whitaker.

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Summer Health Tips

The arrival of summer means days at the pool, family barbeques, picnics, sports and other outdoor activities. Below are a few tips that you can use this summer to keep your whole family happy and healthy.

 

 

Staying active in the summer months

  • Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate! Drink plenty of water before, during and even after physical activity.
  • Protect your family from the sun.
  • Try to avoid intense physical activity during the hottest parts of the day (between noon to 3pm).
  • Dress for the heat.
  • Head indoors when the heat becomes unbearable. There are plenty of indoor activities that can keep you active on the hottest days.

Heart-Healthy Cookout Ideas

  • Go fish!
  • Make a better burger by purchasing leaner meat and adding delicious veggies.
  • Replace your traditional greasy fries with some heart healthy baked fries.
  • Veggie kabobs are a fun and healthy addition to your family barbeque.
  • Try grilled corn on the cob.

Healthy Road Trip

  • Make “rest breaks” active.
  • Pack healthy snacks to avoid the unhealthy foods at rest stops along your way.
  • Pack to play to continue your regular physical activity.
  • Reach for water instead of being tempted by sugary drinks.

Summer Snack Ideas

  • Homemade freezer fruit pops are an easy and fun treat for the whole family.
  • Keep your veggies cool and crisp during the summer months and they becoming a refreshing treat.
  • Fruit smoothies area a healthy way to cool yourself down on a hot summer day.
  • Mix up your own trail mix to take on all of your summer adventures.
  • Just slice and serve all the delicious fruits that are in season during the summer months.

 

Read more about these tips and other getting healthy tips over at www.heart.org/GettingHealthy 

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Congratulations, Spout Springs Elementary!

GUEST BLOGGER: CYNTHIA ARNSDORFF, AHA GEORGIA ADVOCACY COMMITTEE MEMBER

Elementary students at Spout Springs School of Enrichment are on the move, and winning well-deserved accolades. While helping others, they are learning to help themselves. Attendance is up, disciplinary actions are down, and test scores have improved.  

Participating for the first time in the American Heart Association's fundraiser, Jump Rope For Heart, the school in Flowery Branch, GA broke the Hall County record. Out of a student body of 825, more than 400 students donated and raised over $16,000. Jumping rope to slogans of Jump the Creek and Cross the Raging River, they learned the benefits of physical activity and a healthy lifestyle in preventing heart disease and strokes, while having fun. 

Presented with the Gold Award from the National Healthy Schools Program they became the first elementary school in the southeastern region to hold this distinction. Quite a feat considering it was only their third year in the program; their first year they won bronze, and the second year silver. For such an outstanding accomplishment their State Representatives, Rep. Butch Miller and Rep. John Wilkinson, sponsored a resolution in the Georgia General Assembly to honor the school.  

SR 446: A RESOLUTION commending Spout Springs School of Enrichment for being the first school in Georgia and the entire southeast to be named an Alliance for a Healthier Generation 2014-2015 GOLD National Recognition School.

Working with the Alliance to implement the program’s framework of best practices, the nutrition department and staff were offered technical assistance, professional development, tools, resources and national experts for support. Teachers now intersperse healthy activities with their lessons, improving everyone’s day, including their own. 

To quote Tom Adam, their coach and a physical education teacher, “Working with the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program is life changing. For me, and more importantly our students and their parents, it has been nothing less than a culture change for our community”.  Even the Parent Teacher Organization stopped selling unhealthy treats for fundraisers, instead promoting physical activity fundraisers.

Guided by their principal, Arlene Thomas, the school is living up to its mission to be a place of enrichment “where students are able to discover and develop their talents through active engagement in challenging and enjoyable learning experiences.”

Spout Springs School is setting a standard for change in our country where 23 percent of children get no exercise, and obesity is touching even the very young.  By participating in the Alliance’s Healthy Schools program, and the American Heart Association's Jump Rope For Heart program, the school has shown you can transform motion into measurable results. Congratulations, job well done! 

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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 this video below highlighting the award winners!

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