American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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  • Learn about heart-health issues
  • Meet other likeminded advocates
  • Take action and be heard
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.”

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Carol Barnes, Mississippi Advocacy Chair

Guest Blogger: Carol Barnes

My name is Carol Barnes and I am serving as the new Chair of the Mississippi Advocacy Committee this year.  I am an Associate Professor at Mississippi College in the Kinesiology Department, and I’ve served on the Advocacy Committee for the past three years. During that time, I have witnessed so much progress made by the American Heart Association staff members, Katherine Bryant, Julie Howell and Elizabeth Williams, along with each of you who volunteer your time to continue to improve the quality of living of each Mississippian. 

I am very excited about this year, as we work to encourage our citizens to focus on healthy habits, prevention and education. Each of you can make a difference by reminding our lawmakers to make the right decision of making the health of our state, their priority.

While attending the American Heart Association Federal Lobby Day in Washington D.C., I realized that the progress made by the American Heart Association is truly having a positive impact on the health of our citizens today and for years to come.  We can’t stop now! With your help, we will someday have a society that focuses on healthy habits and reaps the benefits of this lifestyle. 

I would love to hear from you if you have any recommendations or questions. You may contact me at  It’s going to be a great year!

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Check Out the Fall Heart Walks in Mississippi!

The Heart Walk is the American Heart Association's premiere event for raising funds to save lives from this country's No. 1 and No. 5 killers - heart disease and stroke. Designed to promote physical activity and heart-healthy living, the Heart Walk creates an environment that's fun and rewarding for the entire family.

This year, more than 1 million walkers will participate in nearly 340 events across the nation to take a stand against heart disease and help save lives. Here in Mississippi, the American Heart Association will host four Heart Walks in the fall. You’re the Cure will be present at the walks, asking attendees to join our efforts to make healthy foods more accessible across the state. With Mississippi being one of the most obese states in the nation, access to healthy foods is very important to reverse the trend.

We hope you’ll walk at your local Heart Walk with friends, family, coworkers or strangers you'll bond with along the way. Any way you choose to do it, your heart will thank you for it!

September 26 Jones County Heart Walk

Gardiner Park

701 North 4th Avenue, Laurel, Mississippi 39440

Activities Begin: 8:00am; Walk Begins at 9:00am

October 3 – Gulf Coast Heart Walk

Biloxi Shuckers Baseball Stadium

Beach Boulevard, Biloxi, MS 39530

Activities Begin: 7:30am; Walk Begins: 9:00am

November 7 – Forrest/ Lamar Heart Walk

Spirit Park at University of Southern Mississippi

118 College Drive, Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Activities Begin: 8:00am; Walk Begins: 9:00am

November 7 – Metro Jackson Heart Walk

Mississippi State Capitol Building

400 High Street, Jackson, Mississippi 39201

Activities Begin: 8:00am; Walk Begins: 9:15am

November 7 – Mid-South Heart Walk

Court Square Park

Corner of Court Avenue and 2nd Street

Downtown Memphis, Tennessee 38103

Activities Begin: 9:00am; Walk Begins: 10:30am

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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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Mississippi Wins National Smokefree Indoor Air Challenge Award

The week of June 22 was full of smokefree celebrations! That week, we attended the Mississippi Municipal League Conference on the Gulf Coast as a member of the Smokefree Mississippi Coalition.

During the conference, the coalition received the First Place Smokefree Indoor Air Challenge Award by the Americans for NonSmokers’ Rights for passing the most smoke free ordinances in the nation last year. The coalition also awarded cities that passed comprehensive smoke free ordinances since June 2014.

Since 2002, our state has passed a total of 103 comprehensive ordinances - 17 since July 2014 - with State Line being the newest addition. Now, 30 percent of Mississippi residents are protected by smoke free ordinances. View the Smokefree Communities Timeline.


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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 

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Mississippi Professor Attends Lobby Day in Washington D.C.

On May 11 and 12, Dr. Carol Barnes of Brandon, joined nearly 400 You’re the Cure advocates from across the country who traveled to Washington, D.C. to urge their lawmakers to step up to the plate for heart health.  Advocates included: survivors who shared their personal experiences dealing with cardiovascular disease and stroke, youth advocates uniquely able to convey the importance of strong school nutrition standards; and scientific volunteers, including those from the medical community, to make the case for increased funding to support more heart and stroke research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In addition, advocates sent more than 7,700 messages as part of “virtual” lobby day, delivering the association’s key advocacy messages through phone calls, emails and social media.  Members of Congress were urged to protect the healthy school meals standards put in place by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, and to increase investment in NIH research, following years of flat funding and cuts.

Prior to their in-person meetings on Capitol Hill, advocates received issue briefings and training to prepare them for their visits, and attended a luncheon recognizing outstanding scientific, volunteer, youth, and survivor advocates of the year.

After Dr. Barnes returned to Mississippi, we asked her a few questions about her once in a lifetime experience. 

How long have you been a volunteer with the American Heart Association and in what capacity?  Five years as a Volunteer Advocate

Why was this You’re the Cure on the Hill experience meaningful to you? As a college professor, I work closely with students on a daily basis and help them to realize the importance of preventive medicine and funding research in order to improve the quality of lives for families and individuals.  Having the opportunity to advocate for policies and funding that will have a direct impact on our quality of life is very exciting to me, and if we all do our part, we can dramatically decrease the incidence of lifestyle disease in our society.

How did/does Lobby Day fit into your job and personal life.  Also, which issue resonated with you more – strong school meal nutrition standards or increased NIH funding for heart disease and stroke – and why? Not only do I have an opportunity to influence my college students, but I believe very strongly in teaching our citizens how to practice healthy lifestyle habits can have a positive impact on their health for years to come.  The legislators were very positive about both issues.  I spoke with them about the nutrition standards, while Dr. Ryan, also from Mississippi, covered the need for the NIH funding.

 What were your big take away items from your visit to D.C.?

  • The advocacy trainings on Monday were very important to learn and discuss the statistics and why we need to advocate for these issues.  This time was beneficial in helping us to understand how to cover the issues and what to say to the legislators.
  • The Hero’s Luncheon on Monday that largely focused on school nutrition was enlightening.  It focused on the impact of improved nutrition on the health and academic status of our students.
  • Hill Visits on Tuesday were of course very important sessions that enabled us to talk with the legislators to hopefully urge continued efforts to improve the quality of lives of our citizens.

Were you inspired to advocate back home in Mississippi?  Why is it important for others to get on board and join the advocacy efforts for heart health and stroke issues in our state?  Advocacy is a very important method of reaching policymakers who have the power to impact the lives of our citizens by passing new legislation.  Research is such an important piece of the puzzle and a means of providing new methods in technology, new medications, new forms of treatment, etc. that may wipe out lifestyle disease or treat the disease in early stages.  If professionals in health-related occupations are not advocating for improved health, we will continue to see rising health-care cost, increase mortality rates, and a decrease in life-expectancy.

Who or what inspires you to help and volunteer your time to the work of the American Heart Association? My family members, my friends, and my students who may be negatively impacted by these lifestyle diseases.

Dr. Carol Barnes is an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Mississippi College.  We appreciate Dr. Barnes taking the time to represent Mississippi at our national You're the Cure Lobby Day on the Hill.  To follow the American Heart Association's efforts nationwide, visit and LIKE us on Facebook:, as well as, on the state level at:  

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Liz Young, Mississippi Staff Member, Saves a Life!

Last weekend, Liz Young, Youth Market Director in Jackson, Mississippi, jumped into action demonstrating why we do what we do, and saved a life.

Liz was at the Lakeland Garden Center in Jackson when someone suddenly yelled, "We need someone who knows CPR!"  Liz went running to assist and started administering CPR on a woman who had collapsed.  After a few minutes, the woman gasped, then gurgled, then blinked her eyes and started moving her head.  Liz stopped and checked her pulse and she was breathing again!  The paramedics arrived soon after and took the woman to the hospital.  Liz called the woman’s husband the next day to check on how she was doing.  The woman was still in the hospital but in stable condition.  "It's wonderful to know that "Staying Alive" is really that simple," said Liz.

There were approximately 100 people there at the time this happened, and Liz was the only one who knew CPR, or was willing to administer it.  Liz stepped up and took action because she knew what to do and had the courage to do it.

"I was scared and nervous, but I knew that I had been trained.  I had helped educate others over the past four years on the simple Hands-Only™ CPR; to call 9-1-1 and start chest compressions hard and fast, right in the middle of her chest.  Guess worked!  I’m so thankful I work for the American Heart Association and that our passion is saving lives," said Liz.

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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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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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