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A Glimmer of Hope

Those of you who are long-time You're the Cure advocates are very familiar with the American Heart Association's efforts over the years to advocate for funding the state budget to prevent smoking and tobacco use in our kids and to help smokers who wish to quit to kick the habit. New Jersey completely eliminated the funding from the state budget in 2010 and we have been advocating to get it reinstated since but have been unsuccessful so far. New Jersey is the only state in the country that dedicates no funding to fighting the #1 preventable cause of death and we have been at the bottom of the list for years.

However, there is a glimmer of hope this year! Legislators on both sides of the aisle are supporting legislation to address this lack of funding by dedicating a small portion of the tobacco tax to anti-tobacco programs and prevention. There was some movement at the end of last legislative session but time ran out. We are hopeful that our champions in the Legislature can get some momentum behind this and get it moving soon. We will be asking you, our dedicated  You're the Cure advocates to act in the coming weeks and months so that we might finally win this battle!

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Join us on National Wear Red Day, Friday, February 5

The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women are asking for your support by participating in National Wear Red Day® on Friday, February 5, 2016 and donating to help fund research during American Health Month.

Why Go Red? Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds.  Fortunately, we can change that because 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action. That’s why this year we are asking that you wear red on National Wear Red Day® and donate to Go Red For Woman. By doing so you help support educational programs to increase women’s awareness and critical research to discover scientific knowledge about cardiovascular health. 

And don’t forget to make your heart health a priority. Schedule your Well-Woman Visit, a prevention check-up to review a woman’s overall health so her doctor can measure blood pressure, check cholesterol and look for signs of heart disease, stroke and other illnesses. Then encourage others through your social channels to do the same.

We couldn’t make positive changes without the support and donations by individuals like you.

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Happy New Year New Jersey!

Its not only a New Year in the Garden State, but also the start of a new legislative session. Toward the end of last legislative session, we saw some movement on several long time priorities for the American Heart Association. Thanks to you and other "You're the Cure" advocates in New Jersey, there has been progress on legislation to help make corner stores in food deserts healthier and some encouraging signs that New Jersey may finally make funding for tobacco prevention and programs a priority. I am really looking forward to working with all of you to build on that in the coming months.

There are also some new priorities in 2016, for example, we will be looking for ways to improve stroke systems of care in New Jersey.

I am excited for the possibilities that lie ahead and continuing to work with you, our dedicated advocates! Wishing you all the best in 2016!

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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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One Step Closer to Healthy Food Just Around the Corner!

Last month, the New Jersey Senate came one step closer to creating a statewide Healthy Corner Store Initiative in New Jersey. On November 16, the Senate Economic Growth Committee voted 4-0 to release the Healthy Small Food Retailer Act from the committee. This means the bill is one step closer to becoming law!

The Healthy Small Food Retailer Act would create a fund to provide resources that small food retailers need to offer healthier food in their stores, especially in areas that lack nearby grocery stores. There are a number of local programs that have been successful, but New Jersey would be the first state to have a statewide Healthy Corner Stores initiative.

We thank Senator Lesniak, Senator Cruz-Perez, Senator Oroho and Senator Whelan for voting in favor of the legislation. We look forward to continuing to work with our advocates as the bill progresses.

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Dr. Carol Gill, New Jersey

Dr. Gill is Chair of the Department of Spinal Cord Injury and Disorders at the Veterans Administration New Jersey Health Care System. She is currently serving as President of the Northern New Jersey Board of Directors for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and is a dedicated "You're the Cure" advocate.

Dr. Gill is passionate about cardiovascular diseases in women, health disparities and stroke as well as issues around food access and childhood obesity. She is a long time volunteer with the AHA/ASA, promoting its mission through community outreach, teaching Hands Only CPR, promoting the Go Red For Women movement, the Better U campaign and participating in the annual Heart Walks. This year, Dr.Gill attended an event at the New Jersey State House to connect with state lawmakers on the importance of Healthy Corner Stores and healthy food access in all communities throughout New Jersey. She also took part in an effort to bring attention to World Stroke Day in communities throughout Northern New Jersey. Thanks to her advocacy,18 communities introduced resolutions to raise awareness about stroke.

Thank you Dr. Gill for your tireless efforts to prevent and treat heart disease and stroke in New Jersey and beyond!

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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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Tobacco 21 Picking Up Steam in NJ!

The New Jersey Legislature will be heading back to Trenton this month for the final weeks of the current legislative session. This period is often referred to as the "lame duck session," and many bills that have been making their way through the legislative process will be heard in committee and be voted on in both houses. Those that do not receive legislative approval before the session ends in January will need to be reintroduced.

One of the bills that the American Heart Association supports would raise the age for purchasing tobacco from 19 to 21. The measure passed in the Senate in June 2014, but it is awaiting consideration in the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee. There are currently 8 bipartisan sponsors that are supporting the bill.

Hawaii was the first state to pass such a law earlier this year. The legislation is modeled on a law that passed in Needham, MA. After it went into effect, the youth smoking rate plummeted by 50%. In addition, 8 towns in New Jersey have enacted a similar policy locally.

I hope that you will join our efforts in the coming weeks to advocate for this potentially life-saving legislation.

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Patty Lang, New Jersey

Patty Lang is a two time stroke survivor and a passionate You're the Cure advocate. She is also very involved in the Go Red for Women movement as a survivor ambassador as well as volunteering at numerous Heart Walks. She was recognized for her efforts when she was awarded the American Heart Association Garden State Go Red for Women Woman of Distinction award in 2014.

Recently, Patty was involved in an effort to secure proclamations to commemorate World Stroke Day on October 29. Patty was successful in obtaining a resolution from the New Jersey Legislature and proclamation from both the Mayor of Monroe Township and Governor Chris Christie recognizing October 29, 2015 as World Stroke Day.

Patty’s passion and dedication to helping raising awareness around heart disease and stroke is inspiring others to make changes and live healthier. Thank you Patty!

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Sing to End Stroke

One in three Americans can’t recall any stroke warning signs. What if singing a song could help people recognize a stroke and give someone the power to save a life?

On World Stroke Day, October 29th, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is using music to help people remember the common warning signs of stroke, F.A.S.T. (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1).

Why learn the F.A.S.T song? The quicker you recognize the stroke warning signs and call 9-1-1 for stroke, the better the chances of recovery. 

Here is how you can participate:

So get your vocal cords ready and let's sing to end stroke!

  

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