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Exploring New Places is Why!

Meet AHA's Communications Coordinator, Emily Schnacky!

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What brought you to be an advocate for the American Heart Association?

My career with the American Heart Association began February 2015 when I joined the team as a communications coordinator. I was quickly introduced to the many issues and policies the American Heart Association is actively working on in the state of Minnesota. Knowing that I could make a difference in the health of the community by sending a simple email to my legislators and spreading the word on social media ignited my passion for advocacy. 

What issues or policies are you most passionate about and why?

Strengthening physical education in schools and creating safe routes to combat childhood obesity and encourage a more walkable community. This is so important because not only does physical activity help children thrive academically and socially, but it teaches them healthy habits they can carry into adulthood.

What is your favorite advocacy memory or experience so far and what made it great?

Last year’s Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition lobby day was my first experience meeting with lawmakers at the capitol. I’ll admit, I felt a little intimidated at first, but that quickly changed as the other advocates in my district group were so helpful and passionate about policy change. As a group, we gained support from the lawmakers we met with and left the meetings knowing our voices mattered.

What is your favorite way to be active?

Jogging, hiking, biking, yoga – it’s too difficult to pick a favorite.

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?

Strawberries

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New Year, New You and New Volunteer Opportunities!

Happy New Year! There are a lot of opportunities for you to get involved in fighting for a healthier Minnesota in the next several weeks. Be our hero by taking action in your community AND earn points which will allow you to move up in the You’re the Cure ranks! Below are a list of all the opportunities we need volunteer help with in the coming weeks. Please contact me right away if you are able to help!

You’re the Cure Recruitment Opportunities (5 pts for each event)

Help us collect petition cards and recruit new advocates to our campaign by volunteering at the advocacy table at the following events. To volunteer, please contact Jess Nolan at jess.nolan@heart.org

Twin Cities Area

Go Red For Women Expo at the Mall of America: Saturday, February 13, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Mall of America (24 volunteers needed, two shifts available)

Rochester Area

Go Red For Women Luncheon: Thursday, February 11, 9:30 a.m. to Noon, Mayo Civic Center (2-4 volunteers needed)

Duluth Area

Go Red For Women Luncheon: Wednesday, March 2, 9:30 a.m. to Noon, Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC) (2-4 volunteers needed)

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Register Now for the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition Lobby Day 2016!

Register now for the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition Lobby Day!

Don’t miss a chance to lend your voice to help improve the health of Minnesota kids by attending our 2nd Minnesotans For Healthy Kids Coalition Day at the Capitol. Join us on March 16, 2016 to advocate with others around the state by talking with your lawmakers.

During the morning you will attend advocacy workshops and trainings and then put those new skills to the test by meeting with your state legislators. Breakfast and lunch are included, and meetings with your state legislators will be scheduled for you.

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016
Minnesota History Center
345 W. Kellogg Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55102
8:00 AM—4:00 PM
 
Register online now!

Or call 952-278-7928 by March 2, 2016
 
 
This year's issues include:
Quality Physical Education
Safer Walking and Biking 
 

For more details and to register, visit www.heart.org/MNHealthyKids

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Prevention is Why!

Meet one of AHA's Contract Lobbyists, Brian McDaniels!

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What is your why?

Prevention.  We are in a position to pass legislation that will save lives and protect families.  There is so much competition for resources at the Capitol that we must always be zealously advocating for our positions.  Always.

What brought you to be an advocate for the American Heart Association?

Issues on the American Heart Association Legislative Agenda affect everyone.   No one’s family is immune, especially not mine.  

Working in politics can sometimes be befuddling or leave a bad taste in one’s mouth, but it is impossible to not be infused with a passionate sense of purpose when working on issues that benefit all races, creeds, and political persuasions.  AHA issues are unique in this way and I jumped at the chance to be a part of it.

What issues or policies are you most passionate about and why?

Even prior to working directly with the American Heart Association, I spent much of my career working with organizations seeking to eliminate the harmful effects of tobacco.  It is an issue I am extremely passionate about and would gladly work the issue free of charge (wait…did I really just say that?).

Cigarettes and other tobacco products have no redeeming qualities.  We know how harmful they are, we know how they are being marketed to children, and we know it looks gross and smells worse!

What is your favorite advocacy memory or experience so far and what made it great?

My time working with Rachel Callanan, Justin Bell, and countless other AHA staff members and volunteers has been an incredibly rewarding experience with several significant policy wins.  Choosing just one would be impossible.

My AHA advocacy memories center around bringing important issues to the legislature backed by sound science and solid community support.  We have worked with shifting majorities, budget surpluses, deficits, and have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat many times.

Our record of success should be an extreme source of pride for all involved.

What is your favorite way to be active?

I love coaching baseball and soccer, as well as taking long walks on the many fine trails near my home.

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?

6-year-old Brian would be shocked at how much I love broccoli. 

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Expanded Healthy Food Access Plan Backed by MN Health Advocates

Check out this article from the Public News Service! Learn about the new Good Food Access Fund campaign going on in Minnesota!

ST. PAUL, Minn. - As many people are planning for their next big holiday meal, health advocates say about 900,000 Minnesotans don't have access to affordable and nutritious foods. To help, several groups are backing an initiative called the Good Food Access Fund.

Lance Knuckles, community outreach director for the Community Reinvestment Fund, said the problem also includes about 200,000 kids in the state.

"A full 27 percent of Minnesota's youth between the ages of 10 and 17 are overweight or obese, due in part to the lack of access to healthy foods." Check out the rest of the article here

Photo: iStockPhoto

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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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Minnesota You're the Cure Advocacy Summit - 2015

Last month we held the 2nd Annual You're the Cure Advocacy Summit in Minnesota for our insider advocates!

Our insiders started the day introducing themselves and painting their favorite fruit or vegetable.

 

 

 

The theme of the summit this year was "INSPIRED." Throughout the day advocates told us how they are inspired through the training and projects provided.

One of the new things brough to this year's summit was THE LEGISLATIVE GAMES, where advocates split into two teams and set up how the legislative process is run on game boards. At the end of the game, Annie threw in a wild card at them, one was what happens if your bill doesn't get signed by the Governor? Adovcates then had to show more ways that they reach the Governor and get them to sign, run a social media campaign, get petition cards signed, etc.

See more pictures from this year's summit HERE

Want to be a YTC Insider and be at next year’s summit? Start taking action at www.yourethecure.org and move up in ranks!

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Why is Why

Meet Minnesota State Advocacy Committee President, Dale Wakasugi.

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What is your why?

My Why is why. Why did I get heart disease? Why did I have a heart attack? Why did I survive cardiac arrest twice? Why am I still here? Why am I so passionate about the AHA?

What brought you to be an advocate for the American Heart Association?

I was introduced to the AHA and became an advocate by working with them initially through the Minnesota Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivor’s Network. I wanted to become involved with the AHA in a bigger way to help not only give back but to help pay it forward so others may benefit from me advocating for great causes.

What issues or policies are you most passionate about and why?

Interested in policies or issues that impact survival rates from cardiac arrest and education on current findings in heart disease related data.

What is your favorite advocacy memory or experience so far and what made it great?

My favorite memory and experience was attending the Advocacy meeting In Washington D.C. earlier this year. I was inspired and motivated by working with such a strong representation from the great Midwest affiliate, both as advocates and the AHA staff who attended. Loved advocating with some very great people, including very positive youth. What a tremendous group of individuals who had herculean impact.

What is your favorite way to be active?

By doing a variety of activities with the AHA where I can be most helptul. There is no one single activity I prefer, as long as I am impacting people’s lives for the better. Whether it’s transportation or heart related activities, I love it all!

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?

Favorite fruit/vegtable is an APPLE.

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We're Feeling Grateful

As AHA Advocacy staff, we get to work alongside the most remarkable volunteers- like YOU! We get to see lives improved and lives saved as a result of the work we’ve done together, and for that, we're grateful.

As You’re the Cure volunteers, you share personal stories of loved ones lost too soon, of survival, or of triumph over heart disease or stroke- all because you know your stories will make a difference in someone else’s life. It is often those stories that convince lawmakers to pass the policies making our communities healthier.

Because of you, more babies are being screened with Pulse Ox and having their heart defects corrected before it’s too late. Because of you, people in communities around the country have been saved by students who learned CPR in school. Because of you, people are getting better stroke care, families have safe places for active play, fewer people are smoking, and kids are eating healthier food at school.  The impact you’re making is incredible, and our communities are better places- because of you.

You make us cry. You share your joy. You inspire us. You amaze us. And we’re just so grateful for all you do.

We’re including YOU as we count our blessings this month, and we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!   

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My Son and Sister are Why!

Meet our Senior Director of Communications, Elizabeth Warmka!
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What is your why?

My son and my sister are why I work for more research dollars and a healthier world. My dad died last year due to complications of heart failure brought on by a genetic heart defect called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It turns out my sister also has the condition and is likely looking at the need for a heart transplant down the road. I’m thankful for the advances in research that have created new medications that have stabilized my sister’s condition buying her more time and better quality of life, but the simple fact is there is no cure for HCM or heart failure. I also worry that my son could have inherited this condition. My sister’s future and my son’s future are why more is left to be done.

What brought you to be an advocate for the American Heart Association?

Advocating for heart and stroke issues is not only part of my job as the Minnesota Senior Director of Communications for the AHA but heart disease and stroke is very personal to me. So many of my family members have been impacted by these diseases and their lives taken too soon. Advocating is a tribute to them and it makes me feel empowered – that I am doing my part to make sure the future is of heart and stroke care is better for my son and all future generations.

What issues or policies are you most passionate about and why?

I’m most passionate about issues of health equity and access – whether that be to clean in-door air, sufficient health insurance, safe places to walk and bike, or healthy food access. Minnesota is always held up as this beacon for great health but that is only part of the picture. We have significant health and economic disparities among our Black, Asian, Hispanic and Native American populations. This is an area where we can do better and we need to do better. I don’t have the answers but I am hopeful that AHA can be part of the solution to address these issues.

What is your favorite advocacy memory or experience so far and what made it great?

Having been with AHA for over nine years, there are so many successes I’m proud to have been a part of from the historic statewide smoking ban to creating a statewide stroke system to watching local volunteer AmandaJean be selected to speak from the U.S. Capitol steps on how the Affordable Care Act helped save her life.

But one accomplishment that stands out is when we passed the CPR in Schools Bill to ensure all Minnesota students learn Hands-Only CPR before graduation. We were one of the first few states to pass the bill and we did it because of the strong support we got from our volunteers, survivors and the media. It was exciting to see our volunteers and survivors come out in big numbers and interact with their elected officials one-on-one. And with the added pressure of media coverage the bill jumped over several hurdles on its way to getting passed. It was the democratic process in motion.

What is your favorite way to be active?

Walking my dog and playing with my 4-year-old son.

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?

Honey Crisp apples (one of Minnesota’s best creations)

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