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Springfield to Train Students in Life Saving CPR

All sophomores in Springfield High Schools will be trained with the lifesaving skills of CPR after a policy was passed successfully by the School Committee on Thursday February 4, 2016.  More than 326,000 people experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital each year, and about 90 percent of those victims die, often because bystanders don’t know how to start CPR or are afraid they’ll do something wrong. CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.

Springfield Public Schools is the largest school district in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to be recognized as a CPR SMART School. CPR training will be provided as a part of the school’s Health Education curriculum, which all students take as part of their core graduation requirements. As the second largest school district in the Commonwealth, over 1900 students will receive hands-only CPR training, which conforms to the core teaching objectives for lay provider training as outlined in AHA Guidelines for CPR and will include:

  • Instruction and an opportunity to practice the psychomotor skills related to CPR (hands on compression practice)
  • Awareness of the purpose of an AED, its ease and safety of use, and location in the school.

The American Heart Association would like to recognize many key school officials, Michelle Heim, Director of Wellness and Development for the Springfield Public Schools and Dr. Kate Fenton, Curriculum Director for Springfield Public Schools. The American Heart Association would like to also recognize Susan Canning, advocate and founder of Kev’s Foundation and Rhonda Hall, a Springfield teacher and an American Heart Association advocate who were both was instrumental in bringing the concept of CPR training to the school leaders.

“Sudden cardiac arrest could happen at any time, anywhere and to anyone. It could happen in school,” remarked Rhonda. “We know that thanks to Springfield School’s commitment to teaching their students the lifesaving skill of CPR before they graduate, they will put thousands of qualified lifesavers in our community, year after year.”

Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick credited teacher Rhonda Hall, Chief Instructional Officer Dr. Kate Fenton, the School Committee and the American Heart Association for their work with this project. He said the initiative is one that holds positive implications for not only students but also the community.  “This is a wonderful opportunity and I am thrilled we are able to provide it to our students,” said Warwick. “You simply cannot put a price on the inherent value of arming students with potentially life-saving skills. It will enrich each one them and strengthen us as a community.”

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When it Comes to Tobacco, Age is More than a Number

On December 17th, Boston raised the minimum sales age to purchase tobacco and nicotine products (including e-cigarettes) in the city to 21, joining 86+ other local communities who have also raised the age to 21. In 2005 Needham was the first local community to take on this policy, the data collected showed results and helped other cities to pass their own policies. With Boston passing this initiative, nearly half of the state's population is protected by a raised minimum age. This is an opportunity for a statewide bill to pass.

Tobacco use persists as the number one cause of premature death and preventable chronic disease across the state and country. More than 9,000 Massachusetts residents die annually from tobacco-related disease. Most adult smokers (95%) start smoking before the age of 21. Without prevention policies, 103,000 Massachusetts kids alive today will die from smoking. Policies to reduce availability of tobacco products to youth have tremendous public health benefit and reduce nicotine addiction and tobacco use in adults over time.

A statewide bill would address the rate of youth smoking by redefining the legal age to purchase these products. Public health policies aimed at reducing tobacco use have had tremendous positive impact on the health of our residents over the past several decades. We look forward to working with you on this issue.

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A New Year in Massachusetts

As we start 2016, we have a busy legislative session ahead of us. We are making progress on many of our issues, quality physical education, stroke systems of care, healthy food financing, healthy vending, shared use, tobacco, and our local CPR in schools efforts. I look forward to working together with you to make sure that we see some of these pass the goal line this legislative session. I know you have advocated for many of these issues for many years and just like me you are ready for some success! I hope you are ready for a productive and busy 2016!

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Its Time for Our Kids to Get Physically Active!

We have an opportunity to increase accountability of schools to provide quality physical education. The Senate took action on a quality physical education bill which is a huge first step in ensuring that we are providing opportunities for our kids to be active, your advocacy helped them prioritize the issue but now we need your Representative to take action quickly in the New Year! This is a great first step in ensuring that we are requiring our schools to report what the opportunities our students are getting to be physical active. We know that we have a lot more work to do to ensure that our kids are getting the recommended levels of physical education but we are excited for this incremental step. With your help we can make significant progress towards our goal of daily physical education. We look forward to working together to make sure that our kids are getting quality physical education.

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Get Social With Your Members of Congress

Will you be on Facebook or Twitter today? Your Members of Congress and their staff will be, and it's a good place to reach them according to a report released in October by the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF).

The CMF report, #SocialCongress, says Congressional offices are listening to social media chatter and it takes relatively few posts or comments to get their attention. That's good news for us!

So, how can you use the Facebook newsfeed or Twitter timeline to get the attention of lawmakers and help pass heart healthy policies?

  • Follow your members of Congress, as well as state and local elected officials on Twitter. ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ their pages on Facebook.
  • Tweet about our health policy issues, tagging the appropriate legislators by using the @ sign and their Twitter handle. For example: I’m from Pennsylvania, so I’d tag my U.S. Senators by including @SenBobCasey & @SenToomey in my tweet.
  • If they allow it, you can post about our issues directly on the Facebook pages of elected officials. Frequently, that feature is disabled but you are able to comment on their posts. According to #SocialCongress, Congressional offices typically monitor those comments for a limited period of time. Your best bet is to comment within the first 24 hours after a post.
  • Rally your friends and family members to tweet, post or comment about an issue on a single ‘day of action’. CMF’s survey data shows just 30 or fewer comments can be enough to make a legislative office pay attention.
  • Be sure to use the campaign hashtag if one has been created by your advocacy staff partners. The #hashtag allows all the relevant posts to be woven together to tell our story, and makes your post searchable by others interested in the issue.    

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Thank you

Now that we are officially in the throes of the Holidays, I wanted to stop and take a moment to thank you. Many lives throughout Massachusetts and across the country have been saved thanks to your passion, commitment and action on important health issues. Because of advocates like YOU, countless families are thankful to be spending the holidays together.

I would like to express my gratitude for all that you do to support the American Heart Association every day. The actions you and your fellow You're the Cure advocates take promote heart health in Massachusetts and beyond, and help improve care for patients with heart disease and stroke. Many people are alive today and will be spending the holiday with their families because dedicated volunteers like YOU are passionate about advocating for change.  

Please make sure to take some time to celebrate the difference that you make in the world.

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Kicking the Habit, Reducing the Burden of Tobacco

Despite all of our efforts, tobacco use is still the number one cause of premature death and preventable chronic disease across the state and country. More than 9,000 Massachusetts residents die annually from tobacco-related disease. If we do not continue to push prevention policies, 103,000 Massachusetts kids alive today will die from smoking. This is unacceptable and we need your help! There is a clear need to act now and protect our kids from the tobacco companies’ efforts to addict them. More than 3,000 kids try their first cigarette every day, and one in three kids who get hooked on tobacco will die prematurely from it. Comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation programs are a proven method of preventing kids from starting to smoke and helping adult smokers quit.

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Stroke Does Not Discriminate, Stroke Can Affect Us All

Behind the stroke numbers are real lives. Stroke is the nation's No. 5 killer and a leading cause of long-term disability. Someone in the U.S. has a stroke about once every 40 seconds. October 29th marked World Stroke Day, which was established by the World Stroke Organization in 2006 to help spread public awareness of the world's high stroke risk and stroke prevalence. The American Stroke Association supports the annual campaign by educating Americans about  stroke warning signs and the importance of taking action immediately. While stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and leading cause of disability in the U.S., many Americans do not think of stroke as a major health concern. We have made a lot of progress, but we still have a ways to go and need your help!

Despite these shocking statistics, many people affected by stroke are unable to access the treatments, rehabilitation and support that would provide them with the greatest chance of a good recovery and a healthier, more productive and independent life. Any person who has had a stroke has the right to receive the best stroke care, be informed and prepared, and be supported in their recovery. The development of “stroke systems of care” can significantly increase the proportion of patients who receive improved stroke care.

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Active Children Will Thrive in the Commonwealth

You and I both know that childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions, and that overweight/obese children have a much greater risk than their healthy weight peers of developing and dying from chronic diseases as they grow older. We also know that one important way to stop the  rise in obesity and chronic disease in our children is to  establish lifelong physical activity habits, which can be accomplished with strong physical education programs and regular physical activity opportunities in our nation’s schools.

Children must be physically active at school and learn about staying  healthy through exercise and a balanced diet. If  lessons of lifetime physical activity and healthy food and beverage choices are modeled at both school and home, children will have the optimal foundation for healthy living. Unfortunately, many schools are cutting back on traditional physical education programs because of budgetary concerns and competing academic demands. Physically active children are more likely to thrive academically and socially. Children who receive 30 minutes a day of quality physical education learn more effectively and achieve more academically. Through effective physical education, children learn how to incorporate safe and healthy activities into their lives. Physical education is an integral part of developing the “whole” child for success in social settings and the learning environment.

Will you join with us and work with your legislators to help us ensure that we are offering our kids high quality PE?

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Increasing Healthier Choices in the Commonwealth

What I sometimes find ironic is that on  one hand, states and localities fund obesity and chronic disease prevention, while on the other, they serve and sell soda, chips, candy, and other foods that promote obesity and disease. Thankfully, state and local governments across the country are now realizing that serving and selling unhealthy food contradicts their obesity and chronic disease prevention efforts. The American Heart Association has a solution to help states and localities ensure healthier options are available to residents and visitors: healthier vending machine options. Vending machines are a highly visible source of food and beverages. Improving the nutritional quality of vending machine selections is an important step toward creating a culture of health.

We are working to ensure access to healthier options and help to create more supportive food environments for government employees, visitors to public property, participants in government‐sponsored programs, and people in government institutional environments. We believe these efforts will help reduce obesity and diet‐related chronic diseases, reduce health care costs, increase American competitiveness, give people what they want, increase demand for healthier options and support employees’ ability to eat healthfully. We hope you will join our efforts!

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