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Take the You're the Cure Advocate Survey

2015 was a great year for You're the Cure advocates and the many policy efforts that you work on. We have big plans for 2016, and we want to hear from you and what you want to see in the future for You're the Cure.

So take the survey now and let your voice be heard.

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You're the Cure Advocates Go Red!

Go Red for Women is the American Heart Association’s campaign to raise awareness about women’s risk of cardiovascular disease and empower them to take control of their heart health.  It is a year-long campaign that culminates in February for Heart Month.  All of the markets within the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate celebrate with events throughout February and into the spring.

Advocacy work goes hand in hand with the Go Red For Women movement in many ways.  One way is our advocates work with their local government officials on proclamations that declare the first Friday in February as Wear Red Day.  In North Carolina, the town of Matthews, Huntersville, Cary, and Winston-Salem passed proclamations.  As did Spartanburg and Columbia in South Carolina, and Washington, D.C. 

The District of Columbia took their support of Wear Red Day to the next level with several local councilmembers taking to social media to express their office-wide support.   Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau of Ward 1, Jack Evans of Ward 2, and Charles Allen in Ward 6 sent out tweets to their followers of their offices dressed to the gills in their finest red. Councilmember Yvette M. Alexander emailed her constituents to urge them to be diligent in keeping their lives free of cardiovascular disease with helpful tips and facts. 

Another great example happened in Charlotte, North Carolina, when advocate Dr. Sandra Burke presented to the Mecklenburg County Board of Directors about heart health and continuing collaborative efforts to improve the health of the local community.  And here, the women of the Virginia General Assembly went red on 2/9 to bring awareness to heart disease.  

Go Red is a nationwide movement that unifies communities in prevention and education about the risk factors and warning signs of cardiovascular disease.  We are proud of the policies and changes you are influencing to make strides toward a world where we are free of heart disease and stroke.

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I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane...Part 5

This past November, You’re the Cure advocate and stroke survivor, Michelle Ballasiotes, had the privilege of attending the Non-communicable Diseases (NCD) Alliance Global Forum in Sharjah, UAE.  Michelle represented the AHA/ASA and her mom joined her on this experience of a lifetime.  Over the next few weeks we will be posting a multi-part series of Michelle’s reflections on the trip.  Many thanks to Michelle for writing about her experience and allowing us to share it on the blog!  Check back next week to read more about Michelle’s trip!  Missed a week?  You can find the earlier posts about her trip here, here, here, and here.

Sat. Nov. 14th, Afternoon:

 

When we left off last week I had just finished up my morning sessions where I learned how NCDs have different impacts on countries around the world.  Here is what we did that afternoon! 

Lunch was a buffet with speakers talking about World Diabetes Day. Everyone received a blue circle pin to wear in honor of World Diabetes Day. There was another plenary session in the afternoon with four more workshops: How to Work Effectively as an Alliance, Resource Mobilization: Collaboration for Impact, Campaign Planning: Step by Step Guide to Successful Campaigns, and Twinning: North-South and South-South Cooperation for NCDs. I attended the Alliance one and my mom attended the Twinning one. The Twinning one described Denmark and Uganda as examples. They have found that by working together and seeing the things that each country is doing, it creates useful resources that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. Basically the goal is to work together to complement each other’s work, not compete. Some countries in the Caribbean have a tax on sugar sweetened beverages, so perhaps the US should “twin” with them.

Meetings didn’t end until 7:00 in the evening so it was a very long day, but filled with great information. For dinner, my mom and I headed to Dubai to meet a friend from Denmark who happened to be in the area. The taxi driver got lost since some of them are not used to driving across Emirate borders, but we finally made it there.

 

Want to keep up with Michelle and our other advocates?  Join our You’re the Cure network to get updates on all of the work that we are doing around the state!

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Village HeartBEAT Moves in Charlotte

On February 2, 2015, the American Heart Association joined hands with Mecklenburg County Health Department’s Village HeartBEAT program to educate the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners on our commitment to building a healthier community. 

Village Heart B.E.A.T., Building Education and Accountability Together is designed to promote better heart health awareness and to enhance community resources in a coordinated health care service model to address obesity and heart disease awareness among African American and the Hispanic populations. Founded by local health advocate Cheryl Emanuel, this free fitness program is aimed at a fun healthy competition among competing faith-based congregations, each with a team of 10 participants accepting the challenge to lowering their heart disease risk factors.  The AHA works alongside Village HeartBEAT to provide education, training and materials for all participants. 

Hundreds were in attendance dressed in red to promote Go Red and American Heart Month.  The American Heart Association was represented by Charlotte Board member Dr. Sandra Burke.  Additional guest speakers included Sharon Ricks with Million Hearts® initiative, Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown with Novant Health and Rev. Boyd, Pastor of Rockwell AME Zion Church. 

The commissioners responded with personal stories of how heart disease has impacted them and were extremely appreciative of the turn out and support.  Chairman Trevor Fuller expressed gratitude for the example we all set and thanked us for attending.  Chairman Fuller wrapped up the presentation by declaring; "We are going to make Mecklenburg County a healthy county". 

The American Heart Association is a proud partner of Village HeartBEAT and we look forward to our continued efforts surrounding cardiovascular disease and stroke.

   

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I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane....Part 4

This past November, You’re the Cure advocate and stroke survivor, Michelle Ballasiotes, had the privilege of attending the Non-communicable Diseases (NCD) Alliance Global Forum in Sharjah, UAE.  Michelle represented the AHA/ASA and her mom joined her on this experience of a lifetime.  Over the next few weeks we will be posting a multi-part series of Michelle’s reflections on the trip.  Many thanks to Michelle for writing about her experience and allowing us to share it on the blog!  Check back next week to read more about Michelle’s trip!  Missed a week?  You can find the earlier posts about her trip here, here, and here.

Sat. Nov. 14th, Morning: 

Meetings started at 9:00 a.m. with a very useful formalized networking session where we sat with other delegates to discuss an overview of non-communicable diseases and a road map for implementation. Next was a Coffee Connect session, which was basically an informal session to meet some of the other delegates. We then moved on to the opening ceremonies with Her Highness Shiekha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi attending, although we weren’t allowed to take photos of her. Her husband, His Royal Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammed Al Qasimi spoke and we could take photos of him. We had headphones that we could put on to have His Royal Highness’ speech translated in English or Spanish. I am very thankful for Her Highness for hosting this conference for us all to come together. She is the founder of the Friends of Cancer Patients and has been committed to the fight against cancer and NCDs locally as well as globally.

Afterwards we had a plenary session and four workshops: Integrating NCDs into National Development Plans and Frameworks, Prioritizing Prevention in National NCD Responses, Leveraging Universal Health Coverage for NCDs, and Advancing Effective Multisectoral Action for NCDs. We could only attend one workshop and I was assigned to the Prevention one, which I thought was very informative. We discussed how the determinants of NCDs are tobacco use, obesity, alcoholism, and sedentarism. 

I learned lots of things about countries all over the world. NCDs affect the poorest countries the most and those are the people who aren’t getting the care they need. Perhaps for lower income countries, we need to focus on human rights first and then accountability. In Mexico, because there is little access to purified drinking water in some areas, children would bring soda to drink which contributes to obesity. A lady from India spoke describing a policy she helped get her country to ratify regarding tobacco because she noticed tobacco was becoming glorified. It took her 5 years to have captions at the bottom of scenes in movies saying that the movie does not promote the use of tobacco and that tobacco can cause cancer. I found it very interesting and it made me want to try and do something like that in the U.S.!  Also, in the Philippines, the tobacco tax was raised to directly fund universal health care. Finally, we discussed how there are higher rates of cancer in areas with poor air quality and pollution. (To be continued…)

 

 

Want to keep up with Michelle and our other advocates?  Join our You’re the Cure network to get updates on all of the work that we are doing around the state!

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Amy Edmunds

Amy Edmunds, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

Opening doors has been the most rewarding aspect of my volunteer experience. Since experiencing ischemic stroke in 2002, I have been an actively engaged volunteer throughout the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate.

Undoubtedly, the first door to open was my own! It has been an amazing transition to evolve from volunteer to spokesperson. But You're the Cure's comprehensive advocacy training helped hone my message and presentation to enable me to comfortably address the Rally for Medical Research last year to urge Congress to restore National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. And, it was a treat to meet with AHA's CEO Nancy Brown and NIH's Executive Director Dr. Francis Collins!

Please, join me at hour 1, minute 15 to hear my message.

(Please visit the site to view this video)

For me, You're the Cure has afforded the opportunity to champion issues related to stroke among young adults from a local to national platform. Over the years, I have not only participated in numerous local Heart Walks, HeartBalls, and Go Red For Women events but also statewide lobby initiatives, national taskforces and Lobby Days. And, yes... even to the White House as a briefing attendee.

So, go ahead and open the door to opportunity... for yourself as well as for those you love!

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How Do You Keep a New Year’s Resolution to Eat Better in a Food Desert? It’s Not Easy.

The most common New Year’s Resolutions are to lose weight, save money, and maintain a fit and healthier lifestyle. These resolutions are hard enough to keep; out of the 40 to 50 percent of Americans who set goals on January 1st, only about 8 percent achieve them.

If your goal is to eat healthy or lose weight, that becomes even harder if you live in a food desert, where healthy and affordable food is inaccessible.

North Carolina Health News published a story about people who live in food deserts and struggle to buy the foods they need during the holidays. Read the article here: http://www.northcarolinahealthnews.org/2015/12/29/15772/

Those challenges continue as they start the New Year with ambitious goals for self-improvement, as many of us do.

We can address food deserts by supporting policies that increase access to healthy foods in the neighborhoods that need them most. HB 250, The Healthy Small Retailer Act/Healthy Corner Stores, would bring healthy and local foods to small stores that already exist in food deserts. HB 250 will provide education and marketing assistance to small convenience store owners to help them offer a wider selection of healthy foods.

Take Action! Make 2016 the year that NC passes the statewide healthy corner store initiative, contact your lawmakers here:  https://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/composeletters.aspx?AlertID=37265#.Vo1FFjqIuMI.email

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I'm Leaving On a Jet Plane... Part 3

This past November, You’re the Cure advocate and stroke survivor, Michelle Ballasiotes, had the privilege of attending the Non-communicable Diseases (NCD) Alliance Global Forum in Sharjah, UAE.  Michelle represented the AHA/ASA and her mom joined her on this experience of a lifetime.  Over the next few weeks we will be posting a multi-part series of Michelle’s reflections on the trip.  Many thanks to Michelle for writing about her experience and allowing us to share it on the blog!  Check back next week to read more about Michelle’s trip!  Missed a week?  You can find the earlier posts about her trip here and here.

Fri. Nov. 13:

Before a planned gala dinner, there was to be a patient/youth meeting. Not everyone had arrived yet and not many people knew each other, but I found a lot of people to talk to and made connections with some of them. My mom and I also handed out "You’re the Cure" pins and Dr. Mychelle Farmer from NCD Child handed out gold NCD tattoos. The tattoos were a hit and it was fun showing people who have never seen one before how to put it on. After the gathering, everyone else showed up and we all went on buses to the Heart of Sharjah where we toured museums, indoor souks (shops), and the calligraphy museum where I got my name written in Arabic.

They also had some dancers for entertainment and women could get henna tattoos. There was a workshop where I got to mix together traditional scents that many people like to spray in their homes. It smelled lovely! We were given dates and tea to try, which were a unique taste but very good! We also got a cloth tote bag filled with postcards and information about the area. It was interesting to learn that in Sharjah, they are building a new "old" Sharjah for a traditional culture feel.

The gala dinner was served outdoors with purple lighting. My mom and I sat with people from Africa and South America, as well as with Dr. Mychelle Farmer. We were offered lots of delicious tropical fruit drinks to choose from. I couldn’t always tell exactly what we were eating and again some of the tastes were unique, but still very good. They fed us well with a plate of appetizers that I thought was our dinner, but it was followed by tasty beef and chicken, and finally a chocolate mousse cake with fruit. Everyone was very hospitable that night and it was enjoyable to socialize and experience the Heart of Sharjah!

Want to keep up with Michelle and our other advocates? 

Join our You’re the Cure network to get updates on all of the work that we are doing around the state!

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I'm Leaving On a Jet Plane... Part 2

This past November, You’re the Cure advocate and stroke survivor, Michelle Ballasiotes, had the privilege of attending the Non-communicable Diseases (NCD) Alliance Global Forum in Sharjah, UAE.  Michelle represented the AHA/ASA and her mom joined her on this experience of a lifetime.  Over the next few weeks we will be posting a multi-part series of Michelle’s reflections on the trip.  Many thanks to Michelle for writing about her experience and allowing us to share it on the blog!  Check back next week to read more about Michelle’s trip!  Missed last week?  You can find the earlier posts about her trip here.

Thurs. Nov. 12th: 

The next morning we woke up to a downpour of rain, which was unusual for the area. We didn’t pack an umbrella, so I went to the gift shop and asked if they sold any and the clerk laughed at me. The roads got flooded since there are no drainage systems on the roads. My mom and I did a tour of Sharjah on a bus with Diana Vaca McGhie, the Global Advocacy Manager for the American Heart Association. I noticed lots of school buses on the road, but they looked slightly different than the ones here in America. There were two covered Souks (indoor malls with small stores) and a few larger malls with beautiful designs on the outside. I enjoyed seeing the intricate and beautiful architecture of the many mosques in Sharjah.

There were still palm trees from when Sharjah used to be a fisherman town before it got urbanized in the 1970s. There was also a beautiful small strip of land with hundreds of palm trees. Diana invited us to dinner, so we finished the day at a local restaurant called The Fish Corner. It was located on a canal near a Ferris wheel and it almost felt like we were in Venice! The weekend in Sharjah is Friday and Saturday, so it was equivalent to a Friday night in the US. There were lots of kids and families running around well after 10:00 p.m.!

Want to keep up with Michelle and our other advocates? Join our You’re the Cure network to get updates on all of the work that we are doing around the state!

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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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