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Seventy Percent of NC Voters Support Funding a Healthy Corner Store Initiative

On February 24, the NC Alliance for Health (North Carolina’s statewide coalition working on obesity and tobacco use prevention) released a statewide survey that shows that North Carolina registered voters (70 percent) support the creation of a Healthy Corner Store Initiative as a way of tackling the state’s childhood obesity epidemic. Additionally, a similar majority says that state and local governments should provide training and incentives to encourage neighborhood stores, where people often shop for groceries, to stock healthy foods.

"According to this poll, North Carolinians view unhealthy eating and childhood obesity as the most serious problems facing children in the United States, above physical activity, quality of education, and children not spending enough time outdoors," said Sarah Jacobson, Healthy Food Access Coordinator for the North Carolina Alliance for Health (NCAH) and You’re the Cure advocate. "This clearly demonstrates that it is time to stop talking about this issue and start doing something about it," she said.

"Programs such as a Healthy Corner Store Initiative and Healthy Food Financing improve availability, affordability and accessibility of healthy foods at food retailers within areas of poor food access. This approach would not only remove a barrier to healthy eating, but also create new business opportunities. If the focus also includes healthy foods grown and/or produced in North Carolina, the state could realize a triple win in terms of health, economic growth and community revitalization," said Jacobson.

The poll also found:

· More than 90 percent of registered North Carolina voters recognize childhood obesity and unhealthy eating as a serious problem
· Seventy-six percent of registered North Carolina voters favor state and local governments providing training and incentives to encourage corner store owners to stock and sell more healthy foods and beverages
· One half (50 percent) of registered voters view access to grocery stores in low to moderate income areas in both urban and rural communities as a serious or somewhat serious problem
· The fact that healthy foods are not affordable was identified as the most significant barrier to improving access to healthy foods in both urban and rural areas
· Lack of nutritional education and poor economic conditions were identified as significant barriers to healthy eating

Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, certain kinds of cancer, obesity and diet-related diseases disproportionately impact communities without access to healthy foods. People living in such communities—known as food deserts—often shop for food at corner stores, which commonly sell highly processed foods that are high in fat and low in nutrients. In fact, youth who live near convenience stores have higher Body Mass Indices (BMIs) and consume more sugary drinks than their peers who live closer to full-service grocery stores. Additionally, one study published in Pediatrics showed that more than 40 percent of elementary school students shopped at a corner store twice daily, often purchasing chips, candy, and soda.

"I was particularly pleased that once those being polled learned more about the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, the support level jumped to 76 percent. This clearly shows North Carolinians are ready for action," said Jacobson.

The American Heart Association is working with the NC Alliance for Health to promote a healthy corner store statewide initiative.

For more information about the poll:

o Poll  Executive Summary

o Poll information packet

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It's Nice to Share

  

Sharing is nice, we learned in kindergarten, and here’s where it can really count.  It’s super-easy to share our grassroots network with your friends and family, so their voices can help support CVD legislation too. 

We seriously need to reach the people who understand something about cardiovascular diseases and/or stroke – and, think about it, who do you know who does not have a connection somehow to someone directly impacted?  The people in your social networks care about you, and you can help inspire them to care about our mission.    

Simply post our video on your social media with this text, or something similar of your own:

Please help me build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, through grassroots advocacy.  It’s for us and our loved ones.  Please join and support the cause – I’ll appreciate it personally.  You could easily wind up helping someone you know.  It’s fast, and it’s easy to be an active part of the American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure network: www.yourethecure.org

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And you know how quickly a post disappears down the queue …please bookmark this and consider re-posting periodically so more of your network has a chance to respond. 

You can also click the Share button that pops up on our website after you’ve taken action on an alert to effortlessly push the message to social media. Every time!

Please don’t think this is not important just because it’s not driving a particular policy.  Our impact as a grassroots network is only as strong as its number of active voices: the people willing to take the time to help drive the messages to their legislators. 

Share to help our mission!  This act helps significantly to make our network a force to be reckoned with. 

  

 

<Picture credit: https://www.flickr.com/people/76535310@N00>

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Juddson Rupp

Juddson Rupp, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

I didn’t remember anything from my week in the hospital, but when a friend brought in a copy of the six o’clock news from October 27, 2000 I quickly realized that either that was a slow news day or that I was one lucky miracle survivor with an important story to share.

"Being at the right place at the right time and near the right equipment may have been a real life saver for a man working out at the YMCA,” the TV anchor began. Her co-anchor added, "Judd Rupp, not your typical heart attack victim - he's in his 30's and was at the gym.  Thanks to some people who knew exactly what to do, he's alive today."

Reporter Steve Litz brought the story to a close saying: "Two important notes to add- It was difficult identifying Judd Rupp as he was not wearing any kind of I.D.  Everything worked in Rupp's favor at the YMCA because so many know CPR there.  Another note, Juddson Rupp is an employee here at WSOC-TV.  We all wish him well in his recovery."

After getting choked up watching news clips like the one above a decade ago, I knew that internally and externally my life had changed.  I could no longer be a just a private citizen.   I had to share my story publicly for several reasons.  I now strongly believe that being and advocate and sharing your story is an important duty as a survivor.

The American Heart Association approached me to ask if they could use my story for the upcoming Heart Ball.  The Marketing Director told me that sharing my story could help save hundreds, if not thousands of lives through the years.  Then the publicity became a 'no-brainer' for me.  Why wouldn't I help save others by informing people to learn CPR or by encouraging them to purchase AED's and stop cardiovascular disease with added research and funding?

After the initial Heart Ball work in 2001, I was asked to be in a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that ran on Charlotte TV stations and throughout the Carolinas in a commercial also featuring my wife and two children urging people to 'Learn CPR...it can save lives!'  I became the poster boy for the American Heart Association, as my wife had joked.  She also knew that I was honored to do this and practically anything to help AHA grow its cause...and be the cure.

My volunteer time and work became even more empowering after meeting Betsy Vetter in 2004.  She asked me to join You’re the Cure, and become an advocate for AHA.  My initial role had me traveling to Washington, DC and visiting with Federal Legislators on Capitol Hill.  I am proud to say that I have not missed an AHA Federal Lobby Day since.

Since then I have held multiple roles including communications/media chair for the NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Committee, a member of the AHA Charlotte Mission Committee, and co-chair of the Smoke-free Mecklenburg Advocacy Committee. I have also been active with Emergency Cardiovascular Care and the Heart Ball, and attended numerous state lobby days at the General Assembly in Raleigh where I share my personal experience with state lawmakers to help them better understand the importance of supporting strong public health policies.

Speaking with countless legislators and their staff to put a face on heart disease, and fight for so many who are not with us anymore is the most empowering reason I do this.  

*On December 14, 2013 Juddson was the recipient of the 2013 Dr. Robert Blackburn Award for Advocacy Excellence which honored all of his advocacy work at the American Heart Association.

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Diana Cook, North Carolina

Diana Cook, North Carolina

As a veteran volunteer with the American Heart Association, Diana Cook has been involved in a myriad of ways with the organization over the years. As a Charlotte Heart Walk team leader, she led her work team several years in a row – and every year provided countless volunteers to help with the walk. As a You’re the Cure Advocate, and as a NC Advocacy Coordinating Committee member, she has volunteered for countless National and State Lobby Days, trainings, and advocacy opportunities.

There is more to Diana than just her volunteerism. She has experience personal loss at the hands of cardiovascular disease and stroke. After losing her father to emphysema, then a dear friend who had just turned 40 passed away due to a sudden stroke two weeks later, she spent a long time of wondering why her friend’s symptoms had gone misdiagnosed. Diana connected with Betsy Vetter and found her passion with AHA and a home with You’re the Cure. As her work with YTC began, Diana was able to join the Smoke-Free Mecklenburg team as a co-chair, and worked with that initiative promoting smoke-free both locally and then at the state level. It was her friend, and her father, who kept Diana engaged with the American Heart Association and kept her inspired to make a difference.

If you were to ask Diana why she volunteers with the AHA, she would tell you that beginning with her Heart Walk experience and including her time as an advocate with You’re the Cure, her experience has become personal. "Advocacy was the "rescue," if you will, that I needed during a traumatic time after my Dad and best friend died," she says. "It helped me to put my energy into something positive that honored them at the same time.  The experience was effecting a positive change for our state of North Carolina to get smoke free restaurants passed and providing vital information to women on heart and stroke disease."

It is advocates like Diana, who join us in You’re the Cure and see what an infinite difference they make in the lives of those around them, that make our network as strong and as passionate as it is. Thank you to Diana, and to all of our advocates, for making a difference and saving lives.

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Imagine!

Christina Bryan, You’re the Cure advocate, recently shared some words of wisdom with us, "My parents, life-long chain smokers, died prematurely as a direct result of their smoking addiction.  As a heart attack survivor, I have never smoked and advise current smokers to quit immediately and non-smokers to never start.  Don't put yourself in harm's way."

On Wednesday, February 25 we celebrated the 25th anniversary of our state’s smoke-free law. As advocates we are building a healthier world.

Yet cigarette smoking continues to be the leading preventable risk factor for chronic disease. Did you know that overall tobacco use among North Carolina high school students increased from 25.8% to 29.7% between 2011 and 2013? During that same time period, the use of electronic cigarettes by North Carolina high school students increased 352%, from 1.7% to 7.7%. These statistics are going in the wrong direction.

Now imagine having a generation of kids that don’t become addicted to tobacco.

Tell your lawmakers to support funding for tobacco-use prevention and cessation programs.

In the last 50 years, 20 million Americans have died prematurely due to tobacco-caused illnesses. Currently North Carolina provides no state funding for tobacco use prevention and only $1.2 million for QuitlineNC.

We need your help to urge our lawmakers to fund tobacco-use prevention and cessation programs.

What do you IMAGINE for North Carolina’s tobacco-use prevention and cessation programs?

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Pulse Oximetry Screening Rules - Closer to Reality

Many of you helped us in 2013 pass SB 98, Require Newborn Pulse Oximetry Screening.  The Governor’s signature of the law was a big step forward to ensuring all newborns were screened but the work isn’t done yet.  The law required rules to be written to implement screening all newborns with pulse oximetry.   In July 2014 temporary rules were adopted by the Rules Review Commission as the first step in implementation. 

On February 11, 2015 Dr. Gerri Mattson presented the proposed permanent rules to the NC Public Health Commission.  This work was the culmination of months of work by a large stakeholder group of professionals from all across the state.  You’re the Cure advocates Valerie King and Kristina Smith traveled to Raleigh for the Public Health Commission Meeting to hear the discussion.  As mothers of babies born with critical congenital heart defects, they know the importance of pulse oximetry screening for all newborns. 

Following Dr. Mattson’s presentation the Commission discussed the rules and the screening.  Both Valerie King and Kristina Smith provided expert testimony in support of the rules and shared their own personal stories.  Their personal experiences were moving and helped ensure the unanimous vote of the Commissioners. 

The next step in the process is for the rules to be voted on by the Rules Review Commission in March 2015.  If adopted by the Rules Review Commission the rules will be effective April 1, 2015.  We will be there to report on the vote. 

Many thanks to Valerie King and Kristina Smith for sharing their time and stories to make a difference for all newborns! 

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When The Surgeon General Comes To Town…

A special thanks to our guest writer, Dr.Sandra Burke of Charlotte, for her contributions to this story!

Recently, the American Heart Association in the Greater Charlotte Region had an excellent opportunity to share its Health Priorities with the newly named U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy. Dr. Murthy is undertaking a nationwide listening tour to determine first-hand how his office can best address public health issues, based on initiatives that are currently working effectively in local communities.  Key representatives from healthcare organizations across the region gathered at Care Ring (formerly Community Health Services) in Charlotte to participate in this 2-hour forum.  In his introductory remarks, Dr. Murthy stressed the importance of working together and sharing best practices, and feels that the most effective way to achieve this goal is to hear how organizations are making an impact on public health challenges they face in their communities.  

Dr. Murthy asked each of the nearly than 30 attendees to speak for 2 minutes, and to share how each organization was working to impact public health.  Dr. Sandra Burke, a member of the Greater Charlotte Board of Directors, represented the AHA during this session, and provided an overview of the key issues that resulted from our recent Community Assessment process.  She discussed the two specific areas where our board members and AHA staff feel we might make the biggest impact.  These include our efforts to strengthen tobacco control in North Carolina by protecting the state’s smoke-free law from efforts to weaken it, increasing excise taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products and restoring funding to tobacco use and prevention and cessation programs.  She also discussed our focus on improving worksite wellness by changing procurement policies at both the local and state levels and providing healthy vending and food service initiatives.  Finally, she touched on our efforts to increase access to healthy foods through healthy corner store initiatives, and of particular importance, the efforts to ensure that all North Carolinians have access to health care by expanding Medicaid.

The latter effort was stressed by a number of participants in the forum, including Madison Hardee, a staff attorney from Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont, who discussed the fact that one of their biggest challenges is the fact that NC has still not expanded Medicaid.  Similar sentiments were expressed by Dr. Steven Keener, Medical Director for Mecklenburg County, who participated on behalf of Dr. Marcus Plescia, County Health Director.  In response to Dr. Murthy’s emphasis on the importance of coalitions to impact healthcare across communities, Ms. Hardee described a coalition of organizations called Get Covered Mecklenburg, which provides outreach to low income families that need access to affordable health care.  Krsiten Wade, Assistant VP of Clinical Services at Carolina Healthcare System, provided input on MedLink of Mecklenburg, a collaboration of healthcare providers with community clinics embedded in neighborhoods to deliver a variety of services to diverse populations who might otherwise have issues with transportation in seeking healthcare.  Another interesting and important approach was described by Ed Connors, CEO of Heudia Health, who has received a small business innovative research grant from the Department of Agriculture to develop a technology to address community healthcare.  Launched in Lenoir County, NC and piloted in Charlotte with Dr. Michael Dulin, a primary care physician at Carolinas Healthcare System, Heudia Health uses a mobile navigator to assist people in finding healthcare services when they have barriers, including lack of adequate insurance, and limited knowledge regarding how to seek healthcare. 

Overall, the forum was an impactful session that allowed not only Dr. Murthy and his staff to hear about local community health efforts, but enabled those interested in improving health of all citizens to hear of other innovative solutions currently underway around the region.  We were privileged to be a part of that process!

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Stroke Center Designation Rules Approved!

On January 15, 2015 the NC Rules Review Commission approved new stroke center designation rules by unanimous vote.  These rules were developed as the result of Session Law 2013-44 Designate Primary Stroke Centers that was signed into law on May 8, 2013.  The rules include designation for acute stroke ready hospitals, primary stroke centers and comprehensive stroke centers.

The NC Stroke Advisory Council and You’re the Cure advocates worked together with the Department of Health Service Regulation and Office of Emergency Services to develop the rule language.  As a result of a great team effort the rules were perfected and presented to the Rules Review Commission for approval on January 15, 2015 where they were unanimously approved. 

Peg O’Connell, Vice-Chair of the NC Stroke Advisory Council, member of the NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Council and You’re the Cure member stated, “Six years ago, I lost my dear husband and our Insurance Commissioner Jim Long to a severe stroke.  I know what it means to lose someone you love in such a sudden and tragic way, but we were fortunate because when Jim's stroke occurred, we knew what to do and where to go.  Everyone in our state needs to have this knowledge.

It has been a journey in North Carolina to build strong stroke systems of care.  Many people have come together to ensure that all North Carolinians, regardless of location can access quality acute stroke care and I was proud to be part of that effort.  These rules are a critical part of our state’s stroke system of care and inform both EMS and the public where stroke centers are located in the state.”

North Carolina already required EMS authorities to have transport protocol plans and procedures and now with the addition of designating all three tiers of stroke centers became the second state in the country to take this step in establishing strong stroke systems of care.

Many thanks to all the You’re the Cure advocates that supported this effort.  You are making a difference!

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Update from Raleigh: Representative Becky Carney Urges Lawmakers to Go Red for Women

On Thursday February 5, 2015 Representative Becky Carney (D-Mecklenburg) called on her colleagues in the NC House of Representatives to take action to fight cardiovascular diseases in women. She challenged her fellow lawmakers to show their support by wearing red on Wear Red Day Friday February 6, 2015. You can listen to Representative Carney’s comments on this recording of the day’s legislative session from the NC General Assembly website here.

You’re the Cure advocates provided each member of the NC General Assembly with a fact sheet about women and heart disease with a reminder to join the American Heart Association in celebrating Wear Red Day.

This year marked the 12th anniversary of National Wear Red Day. Since National Wear Red Day started:

  • Nearly 90% of women have made at least one healthy behavior change.
  • More than one-third of women has lost weight.
  • More than 50% of women have increased their exercise.
  • 6 out of 10 women have changed their diets.
  • More than 40% of women have checked their cholesterol levels.
  • One third of women has talked with their doctors about developing heart health plans.

But despite this progress, many women are still unaware of their risks and the facts.  Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in North Carolina, killing more women than men and is more deadly than all forms of cancer.

  • 8,286 women died from heart disease in NC in 2013. That’s 20% or one in five deaths among women.
  • 2,635 women died from stroke in NC in 2013. That’s 6.3% or one in sixteen deaths among women.
  • Overall about 11,000 women died from cardiovascular disease in NC in 2013. That’s over one out of every four deaths among women.

This year resolve to help the AHA/ASA fight cardiovascular diseases in women and be an active advocate for high impact health policies. Learn more by contacting Grassroots and Local Advocacy Director Kim Chidester, or Senior Director of Government Relations Betsy Vetter. 

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Join us for 2015 State Lobby Day at the Capitol!

It’s that time of year: Registration for the 2015 NC AHA You’re the Cure at the Capitol State Lobby Day has opened! 

Plan to help us turn the halls of the General Assembly red, and discuss important heart health issues with our lawmakers.

This year the event will be on Monday, March 30th and Tuesday, March 31st and won’t be the same if YOU don’t join us!

The event will begin at 3:00 pm on Monday, March 30th with an issues overview, advocacy training, and dinner with your fellow advocates. The following day will be spent at the legislature, meeting face to face with lawmakers, and will wrap up at 3:00 pm. Final registration and event details will be emailed this month.

This year we will be talking about important policies that will build a healthier North Carolina. These issues include:

· Funding to create a statewide Healthy Corner Store initiative that increases the amount of healthy food offered in existing corner stores. Support to close the coverage gap to assure access to health care for adults earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level.

· Funding for tobacco use prevention and cessation programs.

Whether you are a You’re the Cure member joining us for the first time, or you are one of our seasoned advocates, we are excited to have you attend.

Your presence is needed and you will make a difference. Make plans now to join us. Please RSVP to Kacie Kennedy by March 17th, 2015.

We hope to see you there!

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