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New Yorkers Attend White House Briefing

On Friday, September 9th, several New York advocates participated in an event sponsored by the White House, titled "Making Health Care Better Series: Cardiovascular Health."  The day-long forum offered an opportunity for volunteers to directly witness the impact of the American Heart Association's mission. 

The group was invited on a special tour of the White House prior to the briefing which provided an exciting glimpse into the history of the Presidency.  You can see many highlights from the tour on the American Heart Association's social media feed by searching with the tag #HeartAtTheWH.

In addition to the tour, the group joined advocates from across the country for a robust overview from our nation's leaders in heart disease and stroke prevention, care and treatment.  Presenters included Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the CDC, Dr. Gary Gibbons, Director of NHLBI, Dr. Nancy Lee, Assistant Secretary of Health, Dr. Shari Ling, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Debra Eschmeyer, the Executive Director of the First Lady's "Let's Move" initiative. 

The New York delegation was also briefed by national leadership from several organizations who have a vested interest in our mission against heart disease and stroke.  The American Heart Association's own CEO, Nancy Brown, presented on the progress made so far in the effort to promote health across the country.  She was joined by executives from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, YMCA USA, WomenHeart, the Horizon Foundation and Emory University.

With all of these impressive leaders in one room, perhaps the most impactful presentation was from a panel of heart disease and stroke survivors.  These personal stories of survival were at once inspiring and motivating.  While we have come a long way in our mission, there is still a lot of work to be done.

We are grateful for the many volunteers that attended from across the country. New York was well represented by:

* Annette Adamczak - Volunteer Advocate and one of New York's Premier Voices in Support of CPR & AED Training

* Dr. Mitchell Elkind - Professor of Neurology and Epidemiology, Fellowships Director, Department of Neurology, Columbia University

* Liz Elting - CEO, TransPerfect and New York City Go Red For Women Leader

* Janice Hall - Senior Vice President, Global Sales Capability at The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and NYC Go Red For Women Corporate Chair

* William LaForte - Real Estate Attorney, Trevett Cristo Salzer & Andolina P.C. and Chair-Elect of the Founders Affiliate Board of Directors

* Wendy Mono - Volunteer Advocate and Chair Emeritus of the New York City Advocacy Committee

* Dr. Cheryl Pegus - Clinical Professor of Medicine and Population Health, Director, Division of General Internal Medicine and Clinical Innovation, Associate Chair for Clinical Innovation, NYU School of Medicine                    

* Dr. Stacey Rosen - Vice President, Women's Health, Katz Institute for Women's Health at Northwell Health and NYC Go Red for Women Medical Chair

The American Heart Association is grateful for the support of these wonderful advocates.  We look forward to putting the lessons learned at the White House to good use for all New Yorkers!

Photo Credit: Stu Mono

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Gearing Up for a Busy Fall!

And just like that, summer was over!

We hope that everyone had an enjoyable and relaxing summer vacation. With Fall upon us and the kids’ back to school, we are excited for another busy season full of AHA events. From Heart Walks, to Go Red Luncheons and everything in between, we are anxious to get the ball rolling on important legislative work in advance of the 2017 legislative session and have started to work on various campaigns in preparation.

This year we are working on some of the same budget priorities as last year, including funding for Healthy Food Access Programs, CPR in Schools Implementation, Tobacco Cessation Programs, Hypertension and Obesity Prevention Programs, etc.

Legislatively, we plan to work on Stroke Designation Legislation again, as well as a two new bills: One that hopes to improve Healthy Food in Public Places by changing the vending machine requirements in state owned buildings, and another that would raise the legal purchase age of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old.

It is an exciting time here at the American Heart Association and we look forward to working with all of our advocates to help move the needle on these important public health initiatives! 

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NYC Education Department Releases PE Report!

Do you know how your school is doing when it comes to offering effective PE to city kids?  Well, thanks to the City Council, the city's Education Department and You're the Cure advocates like yourself, you can find out! 

The city released the first annual report on physical education last week, just in time for the beginning of the new school year.  The data found on the report is reflective of last school year, but the information is still really interesting.

You can access the report here:

I will warn you that the report is in a spreadsheet format.  And it's really dense.  Make sure you're prepared for information overload!  But if you want to know if your neighborhood school has a certified PE teacher, or how many PE classes are offered per week for each grade can see all of those details in the report.

We know that the report is not perfect.  As complex as this information is, we're still not seeing information related to teacher development, curriculum or use of substitutions.  The spreadsheet may also make it difficult for many NYC parents to easily grasp the key points for their schools.  Accessibility of this information is a key concern.  We will be meeting with the city staff soon to discuss these points.

I welcome your thoughts on the report as well.  Let me know if you have any feedback!

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Tatum Weishaupt, New York State

My name is Tatum Weishaupt and I joined the AHA in April 2016 as the Mission Lifeline Director of the Capital Region of New York State.  Before I tell you about myself, let me share a little bit about Mission Lifeline.  The American Heart Association developed Mission: Lifeline to transform heart attack patient outcomes by connecting healthcare providers, prehospital providers and community stakeholders in a proactive system of care that saves and improves lives—from symptom onset through cardiac rehabilitation.  I am excited to be applying my skills and expertise to this lifesaving effort in Upstate New York.

Throughout my education and career, I have focused on medicine and healthcare systems. I attended Union College, graduating with a major in Neuroscience and Minor in Public Health, and continued to pursue my interest in the sciences earning a Masters Degree in Neuroscience from Georgetown University and George Mason University.

My career prior to joining the AHA included varying aspects clinical trials management at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where I worked in various roles over a 6 year period. While I enjoyed oncology research, my transition to systems of care quality improvement at the American Heart Association has allowed me to combine my broad interesting in healthcare. As a Mission: Lifeline Director for the Capital Region, I work with local health care providers – including EMS agencies and hospitals – to ensure that the system of care for heart attacks can work in a coordinated way.

The systems of care work lead by the AHA is truly impactful in the community, and I am thrilled to join in these efforts. On May 16, 2016 I had the opportunity to join the AHA advocacy team at a Stroke Lobby Day, and learn about another aspect of our organization. The day spent at the New York State Capitol included meetings with Senators and Assembly members discussing a bill which would provide a three tiered stroke system of care. The goal is to ensure that all stroke victims receive the appropriate level of care, as rapidly as possible. This was truly an awe inspiring day, and lead to the bill passing the Senate 60-0 on June 9th!

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Founders Affiliate Convenes Staff Stroke Workgroup

Challenging ourselves to elevate the vital topic of stroke throughout the Founders Affiliate, a staff stroke workgroup was convened in May 2016.  Comprised of AHA/ASA staff leaders from communications, advocacy, quality improvement and development group is focused on executing on the 2020 goal of reducing the burden of  heart disease and stroke by 20% while improving the health of all Americans by 20%.  The workgroup quickly identified regional success and challenges around stroke with the short term goal of sharing existing resources, developing solutions and empowering all staff to increase their working knowledge of stroke prevention, treatment and survivorship issues.  A top priority for the group is identifying appropriate volunteer opportunities for stroke survivors.   

Look for a staff roll-out of improved stroke resources in mid-September 2016. 



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NYC's PE Report Card is Due This Month!

A lot of exciting things have happened in New York City schools over the past year.  But we're really proud of one achievement. Thanks to our You're the Cure advocates and the leadership of Mayor de Blasio and New York City Council, we are soon going to see certified PE teachers in every elementary school! 

While we know this will make significant gains to make sure every student receives quality PE...there is more work to be done.  The AHA's survey in 2012 showed other alarming gaps that stand between our kids and appropriate PE in our schools.  Things like class size, gym space, and how long and how often each student has PE are all important factors for an effective education.  And soon, we should have a clearer view of those concerns in city schools.

The NYC Department of Education (DOE) will soon release the inaugural PE Report Card, an annual assessment of several factors impacting quality physical education.  The AHA is looking forward to reviewing the information on the report so we can identify future opportunities to help schools improve.  There's not a school in the city that doesn't want to provide excellent PE, but they each have obstacles that have to be overcome before we can consider achieving national guidelines.  Since New York's laws governing PE actually fall below these national benchmarks, we have a lot of room to improve!

The DOE will be posting the new report on their website sometime this month.  We will be sure to share that link here, and we encourage you to share it with everyone you know.  All parents, community leaders and advocates should review the report so we can better understand what our schools need in order to be successful.  With your help, we can be a part of the solution and build a healthier future for our kids!

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AHA Hosts Summer Meeting of DASH-NY

On July 28th, the AHA hosted a summer steering committee meeting of DASH-NY. Like me, you may be unfamiliar with the acronym, so I will end the suspense:  it stands for Designing A Strong and Healthy New York.  What is most impressive, however, is what DASH-NY stands up for:  ending the obesity epidemic in New York State thought policy level change. The diverse coalition brings together local, state and regional organizations committed to providing opportunities for walking and cycling, decreasing the consumption of sugary beverages and making the healthy food choice a convenient and affordable choice in New York State. I was truly inspired by both the big picture policy advocacy being done by DASH-NY members and how local organizations are capitalizing on opportunities to put healthy policies into place. 

After the meeting, I was struck by the somewhat universal truth of the phrase “stronger together” – whether inside of the American Heart Association – working with our colleagues in Quality Improvement, Community Health and Development or outside of the AHA, working in collaboration with groups like DASH-NY,  much more is achieved by working together. 


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Hailey Auster, New York

Hi, my name is Hailey Auster and in September I will be in 6th grade at Van Antwerp Middle School in Niskayuna, NY.

I believe the quest for health in New York State is very important and on July 5th, I testified before the Schenectady County Legislature to support increasing the tobacco purchase age to 21.  I think it’s important that lawmakers hear the opinion of people from a different generation when deciding what laws to pass.  I also believe that adolescents still have a lot to learn about drug awareness and by age 21, when  their school career is almost finished, they can make a more educated decision about using tobacco.   After my Tobacco 21 testimony, I was excited to be featured on the local news – they even spelled my name correctly and used my tagline:  Smoking Upsets Your Health and Not Smoking Sets Up Your Health.

The American Heart Association, I think, is really important to the State of New York because they teach people CPR and help keep kids from smoking!   I am proud to be an AHA advocate!


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Advocacy Staff Attends Policy Summit in Minneapolis!

The last week of June was a busy one for myself, Robin (NYC) and Patricia (Boston). The three of us spent a few days in Minneapolis at a Voices For Healthy Kids Policy Summit, where we discussed campaign work around Healthy Food Financing Initiatives, Physical Education, and Complete Streets. We met colleagues all across the country that are either working on similar campaigns as we are or have successfully implemented one of these campaigns in their own state.

Attached is a picture of the Twin Cities Mobile Market - which was an old Metro Transit Bus that they converted into a grocery store on wheels. This bus brings affordable, healthy foods to under-resourced neighborhoods. The bus stopped by to pay us a visit and let us tour their very successful enterprise!

We came away with so many new tools and resources to use in our upcoming campaigns and all three of us are anxious to get home and get to work!

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Significant Funding Headed to NYC Schools for Physical Education!

Thanks to the incredible efforts of American Heart Association advocates and our partners in the Phys Ed 4 All coalition, New York City is investing some serious funding in our mission to improve physical education for every student!

New York City Council approved a $9 million appropriation, originally proposed in the Mayor's executive budget proposal, that will ensure every elementary school has a certified PE teacher, and enough training and resources to make sure every school complies with the state standards for quality physical education.

This is a significant win that wouldn't have been possible without the years of effort that has come before it.  From the moment the American Heart Association's Advocacy Committee in NYC released the results of our survey research which showed rampant non-compliance in early 2013, we have been pushing the city to help find a solution.  The passage of the city's new PE Report Card law in November has instigated a remarkable focus by this administration to work proactively toward PE improvements.  The PE Works initiative, funded by Council last year, and the Mayor's new investment, will go a long way to change the current reality for NYC kids.  Thanks to their leadership, our mission to make sure every student has access to quality PE will soon be realized!

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