American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Bob Elling, New York

Bob Elling is a career paramedic, but has many other “jobs,” including educator, author, and four decades of service as a very passionate American Heart Association volunteer. Bob has served in a number of capacities: Founder’s Affiliate board member, Albany Regional Board of Directors, NYS Advocacy Committee and You’re the Cure network advocate, NYS Emergency Cardiovascular Care committee, Volunteer Leadership Committee, as well as national faculty for Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) and regional faculty for BLS, ACLS and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS).

Three of his career highlights have been serving as the Basic Life Support Science Editor during the development of the CPR and ECC Guidelines in 2005, helping lead the successful CPR in Schools Campaign in NYS that requires all high schools students to learn this lifesaving skill, and as the Medical Editor of the Nancy Caroline Emergency Care in the Streets paramedic text. He has authored/edited 48 textbooks and hundreds of videos and magazine articles for EMS providers.

Originally trained as a medic in the Bronx (Jacobi 3), he has served as a paramedic in NYC as well as the Capital District of NY for 40 years. Bob’s “other jobs” include Clinical Instructor for Albany Medical Center, faculty for the paramedic program at Hudson Valley Community College, and part-time medic at the Times Union Center and Whiteface Mountain Medical Services. 

Bob lives in Colonie and Lake Placid, NY where he enjoys biking, running (he’s completed 31 marathons!), skiing, hiking, and writing.

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Smaller Stomachs Deserve the Healthiest Meals

New York City may be moving forward to help improve the quality of meals served to kids in our restaurants - but they're not going far enough!  The current version of the bill, just posted for a vote in the Council Health Committee - only affects meals that have a toy connected to it.  While these meals are clearly marketed toward our kids, there are many other restaurants that don't use toys for their promotion.  Kids meals on menus from 'family-friendly' restaurants are often among the most egregious culprits, with loads of salt, fat and sugar!  Let's make sure NYC gets this right so we can lead the country in the right direction!  All restaurants that have kids' menus should meet high quality nutritional requirements for those meals!

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Healthy Food Access = Good for our Bottom Line!

Whether you're talking about health or wealth...supporting healthy food retail is a winning equation! 

All across New York, AHA advocates are talking about the need for Governor Cuomo and our state leaders to invest public funding wisely.  Healthy food retail is a proven winner.  When New York devoted funding to healthy food financing 6 years ago, 20 new food markets were built in neighborhoods that need them the most.  These communities have benefited not only from improved access to healthier food options, but also from the jobs created as a result.  Since the program was initially established, 441 permanent jobs were created.  This is in addition to the 622 construction jobs that happened as markets were built.

To learn more about this issue, check out this video created by one group of volunteers in NYC:

And then help us send a message to lawmakers by texting 'Healthy Food' to 52886!

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A Victory for Improving PE!

Before the beginning of the next school year, New York City parents will know whether or not their child receives adequate physical education. Thanks to you all - our You're the Cure network - the PE Reporting Bill is now law in New York City after nearly 5 years of effort!

Thanks to your advocacy, on October 29th, the City Council voted unanimously in support of the bill.  And fast forward just a few days later... on November 4th, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the PE Reporting bill into law!

Our campaign is not over yet.  We had hoped that the report would include some details related to other quality criteria, such as the description of the curriculum used by each school for their PE programs.  We think parents deserve to know what their kids are being taught, and if the school uses current, evidence-based curriculum. Additionally, when we see the first report due in August (and every August thereafter), we expect there will be additional work ahead to help schools further improve their PE programs.  So rest up because our fight continues!

But for now, let's celebrate our new PE Reporting Law!  Thanks to you, our Council champions, Comptroller Stringer and Mayor de Blasio...our city is taking strong steps in the right direction to help us achieve our mission - quality physical education for every student in New York City!


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Kristin Salvi, New York

My name is Kristin Salvi and I am the newest member of the Government Relations team in New York! I look forward to the opportunity to champion our policy goals related to the prevention of heart disease and stroke.  Coming from doing advocacy work for the New York State Nurses Association, and most recently working for the state of New York, my background includes advocating for public health issues such as the CPR in Schools law, sugary sweetened beverage (SSB) tax bills, childhood obesity prevention programs, and many other important campaigns. I am excited to join with all of you here at the American Heart Association because I value the great work the organization has achieved on tobacco control, the healthy food and active living initiatives, access to care, and many other important public health topics.


As a new staff member of the American Heart Association, I've been learning about our platform, "Life is Why." (To learn more, click here.)  Being a relatively new mom of almost three year old twins, they are my 'why.' I want my kids to grow up in a world where receiving quality physical education in schools in the norm, healthy food is accessible to all regardless of where you live,  everyone has access to quality health care regardless of income, and everyone can live and breathe in a smoke-free environment. Although I may be aiming high, my reason for being so passionate on these issues is to make the world a better place for them. I look forward to working with all of you on all of the good stuff we are planning to do in the future!

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When New Yorkers Can't Eat Healthy Foods...

The first Wednesday in November is National Eating Healthy Day!  It's a great opportunity to take stock of our eating habits, and perhaps do a bit more to feed ourselves and our families healthier foods.  For about 1.7 million New Yorkers, however, that is easier said than done.  More than half of New York's counties are home to neighborhoods without access to healthy foods.  You read that right - 1.7 million New Yorkers, in 32 counties, are burdened with a lack of food markets or corner stores offering fresh, healthy foods.  In honor of the event, help us send a strong message to Governor Cuomo that he should invest in the health and economy of New York.  Click here to take action and send your email to the Governor now!

Help the AHA improve access to healthy foods so every New Yorker has the opportunity to celebrate National Eating Healthy Day!

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Should New York Pursue a Tax on Sugary Drinks?

Hi, everyone!

My name is Pam Bonney and I'm a member of the American Heart Association's Advocacy Committee in New York. I wanted to share my thoughts about a recent editorial from the New York Times (What a Big Tax on Soft Drinks Can Do- 10/19/15).  

Overconsumption of sugary beverages is a global problem and the overdose of sugar consumption in the American diet is a major contributing cause of this country’s alarming rate of obesity. Unfortunately, we exist in a time in which we are drinking most of our calories.

Consuming large quantities of sugary drinks can dramatically increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases. One significant intervention that must be considered is to increase the retail price of sugary drinks. As the Times editors described, Mexico levied a peso per liter tax in 2013, and sales of sugary beverages were reduced by 12 percent when compared with the previous year. 

New York leaders could certainly improve public health by following Mexico’s lead and implement an excise tax on sugary drinks. Such a tax is a necessary tool to motivate healthier beverage selection. Imagine the impact to our health and our economy!

What do you think?  Should New York state implement an excise tax on sugary drinks?

- Pam

Pamela Bonney, MS, RD, CDN, Nutrition and Health Consultant, Co-founder, Tried and True Nutrition, Inc.

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Get ready to save more lives NYC!

What a whirlwind it's been!  Last week, our team congregated in (smoke-free!!) New Orleans for a national meeting of AHA government relations staff. We were there to not only congratulate NOLA for banning smoking indoors, but also to dive deeper into the AHA's policy campaigns addressing obesity.

Just as we've done for tobacco control in New York City, we have a tremendous potential to once again lead the nation in the fight against poor diet and lack of physical activity. Our growing rates of chronic disease in New York (see here: demand our renewed energy to curb obesity through strategic policy interventions.

The AHA in NYC is already engaged in a campaign to improve Physical Education in our schools. The PE Reporting Bill has had one hearing and we will be pushing hard to have the full Council and the Mayor to vote and approve the policy. Parents deserve to know what is going on in our kids' schools!  The PE report will help us know exactly how often kids receive physical education, who is teaching it, and what is included in the curriculum.

Additionally, thanks to recent NYU research (found here: we know that we must improve the nutritional content of our kids' meals when they're eating out at restaurants. In addition to the food items discussed in this research, what about the meals served to kids in other family-style restaurants? No matter where our kids eat, if we purchase food off of the 'kids' menu' we should be able to know that those meals are as healthy as possible!

These are both policies that were discussed at length while we were all down in New Orleans.  I can't wait for the work we have ahead! 


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It's a CPR Celebration!

We did it!  After more than 16 years of effort, New York will finally require every student be trained in Hands-Only CPR before graduation! 

Thanks to all of you - our You're the Cure advocates - New York is the 26th state to make this training a requirement for our students.  As a result, our nation's high schools will now be training more than half of our country's graduates every year!  More than 1.5 million kids will soon know what to do if someone's heart stops beating and they need CPR.

High schools all across the state have already received this memo from the NY State Education Department.  However, feel free to share it with your local high school.  Schools are expected to begin training students this year, and we can use your help to make sure every high school is prepared to comply with the law!

This policy would not have been achieved without the tremendous support of so many advocates and partners with the American Heart Association.  This campaign was a long-time coming, and we were thrilled to help celebrate its conclusion with so many core friends!  If you ever need to be in the trenches with a team, this group of advocates - many of whom lost children to cardiac arrest or were rescued when someone knew CPR - set the bar very high!  We are forever grateful for every effort, every story told, every tear shed, in support of this campaign.  Knowing that this law will save lives was motivation unto itself.  But your energy and determination, furthering the legacy of your loved ones, inspired us all to keep going no matter how many times we were told no.  Thanks to you, thanks to the evolution of the science behind CPR, and thanks to many NY lawmakers along the way - CPR in Schools is now the law of the land in New York!

If you weren't able to join us in Albany on the day of the Board of Regents vote - take a look at the photos here:

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New York City Loves our Hearts! Stay Tuned for the Salt Shaker Icon!

New York City is forging new territory in the fight against high blood pressure!  The city's Board of Health officially approved the Sodium Warning Icon policy.  Essentially, if your food has a dangerous level of sodium in it, the restaurant will be required to warn you with a salt shaker icon on the menu.  With nearly 90% of Americans at risk for high blood pressure, we all need to be more mindful about our salty diets.  And it's not the salt we're pouring on ourselves, but the high levels of sodium found in many restaurant meals. There is no reason we should be eating more than 2300 mg in one sitting.  In fact, most of us shouldn't be consuming 2300 mg in an entire day!  Seeing the salt shaker icon can help us make wiser decisions...not to mention the potential for restaurants to wise up and help our hearts by reducing the over-abundance of salt in their meals.

If you haven't done so yet - please text the word 'salt' to 52886 to show your support for this new law!  We can't wait to see the salt shaker icons take their place on our menus.  Thank you NYC for loving our hearts!

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